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Kent Knowles: Quahaug
by Joseph Crosby Lincoln
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1914. Joseph Crosby Lincoln is perhaps Cape Cod's most prolific writer. Through some 50 novels, numerous poems, short stories, and magazine pieces that were written in the first half of the 20th century, the rest of the country came to have an image of Cape Cod that has lasted well beyond his death. The novel begins: It was Asaph Tiddit who told me how to begin this history. Perhaps I should be very much obliged to Asaph; perhaps I shouldn't. He has gotten me out of a difficulty-or into one; I am far from certain which. Ordinarily-I am speaking now of the writing of swashbuckling romances, which is, or was, my trade-I swear I never have called it a profession-the beginning of a story is the least of the troubles connected with its manufacture. Given a character or two and a situation, the beginning of one of those romances is, or was, pretty likely to be something like this: It was a black night. Heavy clouds had obscured the setting sun and now, as the clock in the great stone tower boomed twelve, the darkness was pitchy.
I shall condense the record of that day as much as possible. I should omit it altogether, if I could. We tried to trace her, of course. That is, I tried and Hephzy did not dissuade me, although she realized, I am sure, the hopelessness of the quest. Frances had left the rectory very early in the morning. The hostler at the inn had been much surprised to find her awaiting him when he came down to the yard at five o'clock. She was obliged to go to London, she said, and must take the very first train: Would he drive her to Haddington on Hill at once? He did so--probably she had offered him a great deal more than the regular fare--and she had taken the train.
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