Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XXV Back to a Desk

Mahan delivered the Chicago to the commandant of the navy yard with none of the regrets that usually throng the minds of naval officers on their termination of sea duty, no feeling that his usefulness had ended and that nothing remained for him except the daily rubber of bridge at the club, interspersed with a round of golf and yarns with old cronies. To him retirement meant taking up his suspended literary work, the full development of the talent that had lain dormant too long. He marched briskly down the gangway, confident that he was entering upon a second career that would be more congenial to him and more useful to the Navy and the nation.

He had warrant for this confidence. In addition to his life of Nelson, he had already blocked out a history of the War of 1812; a well-known publisher had asked him to write a history of the Navy during the Civil War; and he had invitations to contribute to the Atlantic, the Forum, and Harper's in the United States, and to even more periodicals in the United Kingdom. His immediate tasks, however, were preparing the lectures for the summer session of the War College and helping Mrs. Mahan to find a more comfortable city home. With money bequeathed Mrs. Mahan by her mother they bought a house at 160 West 86th Street, and for the next ten years the family divided their time between it and their summer cottage at Quogue.

The bus trips from the cottage to Quogue were infrequent, and while her husband was in Europe Mrs. Mahan had bought a bicycle and learned to ride; when the captain returned she had a bicycle ready for him. He had many falls while learning, usually losing his temper with his con-

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