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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 235

to be surprised at anything which could possibly happen to them elsewhere. To them in the story it happens that they are wrecked in the Pacific Ocean, paddle themselves in life-preservers, using oars as brooms, to an island which might have been deserted but which instead has a comfortable house on it, and there begin housekeeping as cheerfully as if they were in Meadowville, scrupulously depositing each week in a ginger jar on the mantelpiece a sum for board, minus a fair charge for their services in doing the housework. After a train of incidents which joyfully, though not too obviously, parody all the literature of shipwreck, they are restored to the United States; but they have left behind them a letter which so piques the curiosity of the real owners, the Dusantes, that those migratory personages follow Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. Aleshine and their companions to the United States, especially to return the money which Mr. Dusante is far too hospitable to be willing to keep. Mr. Dusante, who has an adopted mother with him, encounters in Mrs. Leeks a moral principle equal to his own and finds she will not take back the money; the sequel is largely devoted to the fate of the ginger jar. If Stockton’s fantastic invention is here at its most luxuriant, so is his manner at its gravest. His tongue is only stealthily in his check, and his voice is as calm and level as if he were reciting the multiplication table. Thus inspired liars lie—sailors back from distant voyages and yarning to landlubbers, cowboys “stringing” tenderfeet with tales of local dangers, Sindbads and Munchausens.
  Stockton dictated his stories lying comfortably in a hammock in summer and in an easy chair in colder weather.



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