THROUGH SHADOWS TOWARDS THE DAWN
WHICH CARRIES OVER A TALE OF YEARS, AND CARRIES ON
The last sentence was written. His work finished. And, looking upon his completed creation, Charles Verity saw that it was good. Yet, as he put the pen back in the pen-tray and, laying the last page of manuscript face downwards upon the blotting-paper passed his hand over it, he was less sensible of exultation than of a pathetic emptiness. The book had come to be so much part of him that he felt a nasty wrench when he thus finally rid himself of it.
He had kept the personal pronoun out of it, strictly and austerely, desiring neither self-glorification nor self-advertisement. Yet his mind and attitude towards life seasoned and tempered the whole, giving it vitality and force. This was neither a “drum-and-trumpet history” designed to tickle the vulgar ear, nor a blank four-wall depository of dry facts, names, dates, statistics, such as pedants mustily adore; but a living thing, seen and felt. Not his subconscious, but that much finer and—as one trusts—more permanent element in our human constitution, his super-conscious self found expression in its pages and travelled freely, fruitfully, through them amid luminous and masterful ideas. At times the intellectual sweep threatened to be overdaring and overwide; so that, in the interests of symmetry and balance of construction, he had been forced to clip the wings of thought, lest they should bear him to regions too remotely high and rare. Race, religion, customs and the modifications of these, both by climate and physical conformation of the land on the face of which they operate, went to swell the interest and suggestion of his theme. In handling such varied and coloured material the intellectual exercise had been to him delicious, as he fashioned and put a fine edge to passages of admirable prose, coined the just yet startling epithet, perfected the flow of some graceful period, and ransacked the English language for fearless words in which to portray the mingled splendour and vileness of a barbaric oriental Court, the naked terrors of tribal feuds and internecine war.
The occupation had, indeed, proved at once so refreshing and so absorbing that he went leisurely, lengthening out the process of production until it came nearer covering the thirty months of elephantine gestation than the normal human nine.
With but two brief sojourns to England, for the consultation of certain authorities and of his publishers, the said near on thirty months were passed in wandering through Southern France, Central Italy, and, taking ship from Naples to Malaga, finally through Eastern and Northern Spain. Charles Verity was too practised a campaigner for his power of concentration to depend on the stability or familiarity of his surroundings. He could detach himself, go out into and be alone with