Pioneers! O Pioneers!

“Mrs. Smiling…had two interests in life. One was the imposing of reason and moderation into the bosoms of some fifteen gentlemen of birth and fortune who were madly in love with her, and who had flown to such remote places as Jhonsong La Lake M’Luba-M’Luba and the Kwanhattons because of her refusal to marry them. She wrote to them all once a week, and they (as her friends knew to their cost, for she was ever reading aloud long, boring bits from their letters) wrote to her.

“These gentlemen, because of the hard work they did in savage foreign parts and of their devotion to Mrs Smiling, were known collectively as ‘Mary’s Pioneers-O’, a quotation from the spirited poem by Walt Whitman.”

From Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons