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Command

Command

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Published by MOUNIR ZEMMAM

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Published by: MOUNIR ZEMMAM on May 05, 2010
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Command, by William McFee
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Command, by William McFee This eBook is for the use of anyoneanywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use itunder the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: CommandAuthor: William McFeeRelease Date: April 24, 2010 [EBook #32114]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK COMMAND ***Produced by D Alexander, Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team athttp://www.pgdp.netCOMMANDBY WILLIAM McFEEGARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1922
Command, by William McFee1
 
COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANYALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES,INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIANCOPYRIGHT, 1922, BY HARPER & BROTHERSPRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.
First Edition
This book is inscribed to those commanders under whom the author has had the honour to serve, who haveachieved firmness without asperity, tact and sympathy without interference, and appreciation without fuss. Itis inscribed to these gentlemen because while they lack the gift of self-advertisement, they have contrived, inspite of the trials and exasperations of a seafaring existence, to engage the respect and affections of theirlieutenants.PREFATORY NOTEThis tale is an original invention. It is not founded upon fact, nor are the characters herein described portraitsof actual persons. The incidents and topography are imaginary.W. M.COMMAND
Command, by William McFee2
 
CHAPTER I
She was one of those girls who have become much more common of late years among the upper-middleclasses, the comfortably fixed classes, than they have ever been since the aristocracy left off marrying Italian
 prime-donne
. You know the type of English beauty, so often insisted on, say, twenty years ago--placid, fair,gentle, blue-eyed, fining into distinction in Lady Clara Vere de Vere? Always she was the heroine, and herprotagonist, the adventuress, was dark and wicked. For some occult reason the Lady Rowena type was thefashion.Ada Rivers was one of those girls who have come up since. The upper-middle classes had experienced manyincursions. All sorts of astonishing innovations had taken place. Many races had come to England, or rather toLondon, which is in England but not of it; had made money, had bred their sons at the great public schoolsand universities and their daughters at convents in France and Belgium. These dark-haired, gray-eyed, stylish,highly strung, athletic, talented girls are phenomena of the Stockbroking Age. They do things Lady Rowenaand Lady Clara Vere de Vere would not tolerate for a moment. Outwardly resembling the wealthy SocietyGirl, they are essentially quite different. Some marry artists and have emotional outbreaks. Some combine avery genuine romantic temperament with a disheartening sophistication about incomes and running a home.They not only wish to marry so that they can begin where their parents leave off, but they know how to do it.They can engage a competent house-maid and rave about Kubelik on the same afternoon, and do both in anexperienced sort of way. They go everywhere by themselves, and to men whom they dislike they are sheathedin shining armour. They can dance, swim, motor, golf, entertain, earn their own living, talk music, art, books,and china, wash a dog and doctor him. And they can do all this, mark, without having any real experience of what we call life. They are good girls, nice girls, virtuous girls, and very marriageable girls, too, but they havea superficial hardness of texture on their character which closely resembles the mask of experience. They arelike the baggage which used to be sold in certain obscure shops in London with the labels of foreign hotelsalready pasted on it. It follows that sometimes this girl of the upper-middle, comfortably fixed class makes amistake in her choice. Or rather, she credits with heroic attributes a being of indifferent calibre. She realizes inhim some profound but erratic emotion, and the world in which she moves beholds her behaviour and listensto her praise of her beloved with annoyance. They speak, not of a mistake of course, but of the strangeness of girls nowadays, and incompatibility of temperaments. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of these affairsis the blindness of the girl's friends to her frequent superiority over the being whom she adores. She isn't goodenough for him, they say. The fact is, at the time of this story, fine women were cheap in England, andgentlemen of indifferent calibre were picking up bargains every day.Mr. Reginald Spokesly, a case in point, was accustomed to use this very phrase when in a mood in which hisegotism was lying dormant. "I've picked up a bargain," he would say to himself as he leaned over the rail andwatched the millions of tiny facets of the sea reflecting the sunset. "A bargain," he would whisper in an awedvoice, nodding gravely at the opposite bulkhead, as he sat in his room with his feet in a bucket of hot water,for this was his way with corns. And Mr. Reginald Spokesly was intensely preoccupied with women. He hadoften sighed, on the bridge, as he reflected what he might do "if he only had the means." Perhaps, when he gota command.... He would halt short at this, suddenly remembering the bargain he had picked up.But it must not be for one moment imagined, when I speak of Mr. Spokesly as being at that time a gentlemanof indifferent calibre, that he was so regarded by himself or his world afloat or ashore. Indeed, he was a rathermagnificent person. He played his cards very well. He "kept his ears open and his mouth shut," as he himself put it. He had once confided to Mr. Chippenham, the third officer, that "there was jobs goin' just now, softthings, too, if y' only wait." The third officer was not directly interested, for he knew well enough that hehimself stood no chance in that gamble. But he was impressed by Mr. Spokesly's--the secondofficer's--exquisite fitness for any such jobs. Even the Old Man, taciturn, distant, and dignified as he was, wasnot up to Mr. Spokesly. Who had so slow and so deliberate a walk? Who could treat the common people of the ship, the sailors, the firemen, the engineers and wireless boys, with such lofty condescension? It was alesson in deportment to see him stroll into the chief engineer's room and extend himself on that gentleman's
CHAPTER I3

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