Each of these would furnish a narrative, but on the whole I am of opinion that none of them unite so many singular points of interest as the episode of Yoxley Old Place, which includes not only the lamentable death of young Willoughby Smith, but also those subsequent developments which threw so curious a light upon the causes of the crime.
In offering this record, penned by my own hand, of the events of my life, and of my participation in our great struggle for national existence, human liberty, and political equality, I make no pretension to literary merit; the importance of the subject-matter of my narrative is my only claim on the reader's attention.
It must stand in each man's mind for what it was worth, according to his individual bias of interpretation. But it had become an old story long before the time at which our later narrative of Dandy Steve's history began; so old, in fact, that it had not been mentioned for years, until the events now about to be chronicled revived it in the minds of Steve's associates and fellow-guides.
The short narrative of the life and death of Count Patkul was "written by the Lutheran Minister who assisted him in his last hours, and faithfully translated out of a High Dutch manuscript." M. Mesnager's minutes of his negotiations were "written by himself," and "done out of French."
Was it not worth the visit to Edinburgh to have made sure of that? In repeating, at his own desire, what I had already said to him, I took care to add the details which made Lady Clarinda's narrative coherent and credible. He listened throughout with breathless attention here and there repeating the words after me, to impress them the more surely and the more deeply on his mind.
After the close of the war he was placed on half pay, and took up his abode at York. He attached himself to the Provincial militia, whence he derived his rank of Colonel. He likewise obtained a post in the Adjutant-General's office, and subsequently became Deputy Adjutant-General, which position he held at the period at which the narrative has arrived.
She has admitted into her story various classes of society which traditional Virginia fiction regularly neglects; she has enriched her narrative with fresh and sweet descriptions of the soft Virginia landscape; she has bound her plot together with the best of all ligatures intelligence.
Her sympathy, little though it lies in her power to manifest it, he feels, and its incalculable worth to him, which is such that the gratitude of a whole life cannot do more than repay it. Part of the narrative is here put into the mouth of a peasant, and told in peasant language, or something approaching to it.
I need not tell you, my dear Heinrich, that we both followed this narrative with the most rapt attention and the most intense feeling. "Brave girl!" I cried, when Maximilian stopped reading, "she is worth dying for." "Or living for," said he, "which is better still. How she rose to the occasion!" "Yes," I said, "that was blood."
When historical novels and "purpose" books dealing with great industries and commodities cease to sell, the vagrant atoms and shadings of history ending with the opening of the two world-important canals might be employed by writers seeking incidents as entrancing as romances and which are capable of being woven into narrative sufficiently interesting to compel a host of readers.