Told After Supper
A Personal Explanation
I feel a good deal of hesitation about telling you this story of my own. You see it is not a
story like the other stories that I have been telling you, or rather that Teddy Biffles, Mr.
Coombes, and my uncle have been telling you: it is a true story. It is not a story told by a
person sitting round a fire on Christmas Eve, drinking whisky punch: it is a record of
events that actually happened.
Indeed, it is not a 'story' at all, in the commonly accepted meaning of the word: it is a
report. It is, I feel, almost out of place in a book of this kind. It is more suitable to a
biography, or an English history.
There is another thing that makes it difficult for me to tell you this story, and that is, that
it is all about myself. In telling you this story, I shall have to keep on talking about
myself; and talking about ourselves is what we modern-day authors have a strong
objection to doing. If we literary men of the new school have one praiseworthy yearning
more ever present to our minds than another it is the yearning never to appear in the
slightest degree egotistical.
I myself, so I am told, carry this coyness--this shrinking reticence concerning anything
connected with my own personality, almost too far; and people grumble at me because of
it. People come to me and say -
"Well, now, why don't you talk about yourself a bit? That's what we want to read about.
Tell us something about yourself."
But I have always replied, "No." It is not that I do not think the subject an interesting one.
I cannot myself conceive of any topic more likely to prove fascinating to the world as a
whole, or at all events to the cultured portion of it. But I will not do it, on principle. It is
inartistic, and it sets a bad example to the younger men. Other writers (a few of them) do
it, I know; but I will not--not as a rule.
Under ordinary circumstances, therefore, I should not tell you this story at all. I should
say to myself, "No! It is a good story, it is a moral story, it is a strange, weird, enthralling
sort of a story; and the public, I know, would like to hear it; and I should like to tell it to
them; but it is all about myself--about what I said, and what I saw, and what I did, and I
cannot do it. My retiring, anti-egotistical nature will not permit me to talk in this way
But the circumstances surrounding this story are not ordinary, and there are reasons
prompting me, in spite of my modesty, to rather welcome the opportunity of relating it.
As I stated at the beginning, there has been unpleasantness in our family over this party
of ours, and, as regards myself in particular, and my share in the events I am now about
to set forth, gross injustice has been done me.