Viviette (William J. Locke, 1916)

Dick is not at all like his younger brother Austin. He isn’t popular, isn’t quick-witted, isn’t well educated, and doesn’t have a high profile or high paying job. He depends on Austin, and Austin is very generous towards Dick, but Austin takes his brother for granted and doesn’t begin to understand how humiliated and emasculated Dick feels. The only thing the brothers have in common is their love for Viviette. She leads them both on but demurs from accepting either of their marriage proposals. In truth, she’s not simply playing the coquette; she honestly can’t choose. Austin could give her wealth and society, but there’s something about Dick’s primitive, passionate love that fascinates her.

As usual, Austin isn’t even aware that Dick cares for Viviette, and his behavior towards her drives Dick almost mad with jealousy. A misunderstanding occurs in which Dick thinks Viviette has finally chosen Austin over himself, and Dick, pushed passed the breaking point, attempts to kill his brother. The attempt fails, but it awakens Austin to the situation. Dick wants to leave England and find some outdoor work in the New World, where he might live independently of his younger brother. Austin arranges a place for him in Vancouver — the condition being that Dick never see Viviette again. Austin is concerned by the murderous streak he’s suddenly discovered in Dick, and to prove that he’s not acting mercenary, he abandons Viviette himself.

The brothers are agreed, but Viviette is not. She has found that she’s up to the risk and has chosen at last. She will marry Dick and go with him to Vancouver.

Inscriptions: a stamp on the front flyleaf reveals that it was from the library of Mt. Kineo House, a large resort hotel on Moosehead Lake. The hotel, in one form or another, was in operation from 1844 to 1938, when it closed and, shortly thereafter, burned down. This is one of several books I’ve got from Kineo. On the back flyleaf, someone has been practicing what appears to be Chinese. I can’t transcribe it here, but there are 13 characters scattered haphazardly across the page. I only recognize one of them: 日, sun.


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