James E. Person Jr. celebrates G. K. Chesterton’s immortal crime-solver
‘Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among whom the man we must follow was by no means conspicuous — nor wished to be. There was nothing notable about him, except a slight contrast between the holiday gaiety of his clothes and the official gravity of his face.”
In this manner, on a September day 100 years ago, G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) began his story “The Blue Cross” for readers of the English magazine The Storyteller. Those opening words, evoking the wings of morning and an untroubled sea — but with a hint of lurking danger — remind us that September 1910 was the twilight of a placid lull in Western history, a last breath of what scholar Bertram D. Wolfe called the “grand century of peace and progress” before the armed conflagration of 1914–18 erupted and set in motion our long time of troubles.