The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The Riddle of the Sands

byErskine Childers

Kobo ebook | July 5, 2013

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A WORD about the origin and authorship of this book.


In October last (1902), my friend 'Carruthers' visited me in my

chambers, and, under a provisional pledge of secrecy, told me frankly

the whole of the adventure described in these pages. Till then I had

only known as much as the rest of his friends, namely, that he had

recently undergone experiences during a yachting cruise with a

certain Mr 'Davies' which had left a deep mark on his character and



At the end of his narrative--which, from its bearing on studies and

speculations of my own, as well as from its intrinsic interest and

racy delivery, made a very deep impression on me--he added that the

important facts discovered in the course of the cruise had, without a

moment's delay, been communicated to the proper authorities, who,

after some dignified incredulity, due in part, perhaps, to the

pitiful inadequacy of their own secret service, had, he believed,

made use of them, to avert a great national danger. I say 'he

believed', for though it was beyond question that the danger was

averted for the time, it was doubtful whether they had stirred a foot

to combat it, the secret discovered being of such a nature that mere

suspicion of it on this side was likely to destroy its efficacy.


There, however that may be, the matter rested for a while, as, for

personal reasons which will be manifest to the reader, he and Mr

'Davies' expressly wished it to rest.


But events were driving them to reconsider their decision. These

seemed to show that the information wrung with such peril and labour

from the German Government, and transmitted so promptly to our own,

had had none but the most transitory influence on our policy. Forced

to the conclusion that the national security was really being

neglected, the two friends now had a mind to make their story public;

and it was about this that 'Carruthers' wished for my advice. The

great drawback was that an Englishman, bearing an honoured name, was

disgracefully implicated, and that unless infinite delicacy were

used, innocent persons, and, especially, a young lady, would suffer

pain and indignity, if his identity were known. Indeed, troublesome

rumours, containing a grain of truth and a mass of falsehood, were

already afloat.


After weighing both sides of the question, I gave my vote

emphatically for publication. The personal drawbacks could, I

thought, with tact be neutralized; while, from the public point of

view, nothing but good could come from submitting the case to the

common sense of the country at large. Publication, there-fore, was

agreed upon, and the next point was the form it should take

'Carruthers', with the concurrence of Mr 'Davies', was for a bald

exposition of the essential facts, stripped of their warm human

envelope. I was strongly against this course, first, because it would

aggravate instead of allaying the rumours that were current;

secondly, because in such a form the narrative would not carry

conviction, and would thus defeat its own end. The persons and the

events were indissolubly connected; to evade, abridge, suppress,

would be to convey to the reader the idea of a concocted hoax.

Indeed, I took bolder ground still, urging that the story should be

made as explicit and circumstantial as possible, frankly and honestly

for the purpose of entertaining and so of attracting a wide circle of

readers. Even anonymity was undesirable. Nevertheless, certain

precautions were imperatively needed.


To cut the matter short, they asked for my assistance and received it

at once. It was arranged that I should edit the book; that

'Carruthers' should give me his diary and recount to me in fuller

detail and from his own point of view all the phases of the 'quest',

as they used to call it; that Mr 'Davies' should meet me with his

charts and maps and do the same; and that the whole story should be

written, as from the mouth of the former, with its humours and

errors, its light and its dark side, just as it happened; with the

following few limitations. The year it belongs to is disguised; the

names of persons are throughout fictitious; and, at my instance,

certain slight liberties have been taken to conceal the identity of

the English characters.


Remember, also that these persons are living now in the midst of us,

and if you find one topic touched on with a light and hesitating pen,

do not blame the Editor, who, whether they are known or not, would

rather say too little than say a word that might savour of



E. C.


March 1903

Title:The Riddle of the SandsFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:July 5, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

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