Some years ago an unknown American friend proposed my writing a story on the loves and adventures of Sir Harry Frankland, Collector of the Port of Boston in the mid-eighteenth century, and Agnes Surriage, daughter of a poor Marble-head fisherman. The theme attracted me as it has attracted other writers--and notably Oliver Wendell Holmes, who built a poem on it. But while their efforts seemed to leave room for another, I was no match for them in knowledge of the facts or of local details; and, moreover, these facts and details cramped my story. I repented, therefore and, taking the theme, altered the locality and the characters--who, by the way, in the writing have become real enough to me, albeit in a different sense. Thus (I hope) no violence has been offered to historical truth, while I have been able to tell the tale in my own fashion.
Many of the crowd were muttering. These New Englanders had no love to spare for a Collector of Customs, a fine gentlemen from Old England and (rumour said) an atheist to boot. They resented this ostent of entry; the men more sullenly than the women, some of whom in their hearts could not help admiring its high-and-mighty insolence.
The Collector, at any rate, had a crowd to receive him, for it was Saturday evening. On Saturdays by custom the fishing-fleet of Port Nassau made harbour before nightfall, and the crews kept a sort of decorous carnival before the Sabbath, of which they were strict observers. In the lower part of the town, by the quays, much buying and selling went on, in booths of sail-cloth lit as a rule by oil-flares. For close upon a week no boat had been able to put to sea; but the Saturday market and the Saturday gossip and to-and-fro strolling were in full swing none the less, though the salesmen had to substitute hurricane-lamps for their ordinary flares, and the boy--now w
One of the better books I've ever encountered. VERY highly recommended. Action, romance, history--it's all here, woven masterfully and spellbindingly together. I don't understand why this author is so grossly under-recognized--he was that good. This piece, for instance, easily surpasses more than one of Josef Conrad's--and he was a good writer, widely read.
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