The next novel, based on a dream, was called “In Search of Qrart.”
What is Qrart? I decline to divulge this secret beyond saying that Qrart was a product of the civilisation which now sleeps under the snows of the pole. It was an article of the utmost value to humanity. Farther I do not intend to commit myself. The Bride of a God was one of the characters.
The next novel is, at present, my favourite cigarette. The scene is partly in Greece, partly at the Parthian Court, about 80-60 B.C. Crassus is the villain. The heroine was an actress in one of the wandering Greek companies, splendid strollers, who played at the Indian and Asiatic Courts. The story ends with the representation of the “Bacchae,” in Parthia. The head of Pentheus is carried by one of the Bacchae in that drama. Behold, it is not a mask, but the head of Crassus, and thus conveys the first news of the Roman defeat. Obviously, this is a novel that needs a great deal of preliminary study, as much, indeed, as “Salammbo.”
Another story will deal with the Icelandic discoverers of America. Mr. Kipling, however, has taken the wind out of its sails with his sketch, “The Finest Story in the World.” There are all the marvels and portents of the Eyrbyggja Saga to draw upon, there are Skraelings to fight, and why should not Karlsefni’s son kill the last mastodon, and, as Quetzalcoatl, be the white-bearded god of the Aztecs? After that a romance on the intrigues to make Charles Edward King of Poland sounds commonplace. But much might be made of that, too, if the right man took it in hand. Believe me, there are plenty of stories left, waiting for the man who can tell them. I have said it before, but I say it again, if I were king I would keep court officials, Mr. Stanley Weyman, Mr. Mason, Mr. Kipling, and others, to tell me my own stories. I know the kind of thing which I like, from the discovery of Qrart to that of the French gold in the burn at Loch Arkaig, or in “the wood by the lochside” that Murray of Broughton mentions.
Another cigarette I have, the adventures of a Poet, a Poet born in a Puritan village of Massachusetts about 1670. Hawthorne could have told me my story, and how my friend was driven into the wilderness and lived among the Red Men. I think he was killed in an attempt to warn his countrymen of an Indian raid; I think his MS. poems have a bullet-hole through them, and blood on the leaves. They were in Carew’s best manner, these poems.
Another tale Hawthorne might have told me, the tale of an excellent man, whose very virtues, by some baneful moral chemistry, corrupt and ruin the people with whom he comes in contact. I do not mean by goading them into the opposite extremes, but rather something like a moral jettatura. This needs a great deal of subtlety, and what is to become of the hero? Is he to plunge into vice till everybody is virtuous