Clifford Pyncheon , released from prison, moves into Seven Gables, a mansion haunted since the 17th century when the land was stolen from Matthew Maule, a purported witch. Judge Pyncheon, a descendant of the man who built Seven Gables, believes that hidden somewhere in the house is a royal land grant to Waldo county in Maine and that Clifford knows where it is. That such a grant would long, long ago have been voided is no matter — it’s the Judge’s idée fixe. Before the Judge can threaten Clifford with an insanity hearing, he suddenly dies — perhaps at the unearthly hand of Matthew Maule.
Inscription: Plate pasted on tront end paper showing a woman standing on a balcony, a book in hand. Beneath it is printed “My Book”, and below that, it’s signed “Madeline E. Dyer”.
The Welby’s have budgeted all their lives and are just about ready to retire comfortably well-off when their extremely wealthy uncles dies and leaves them all his money. They abandon their snug and paid for suburban house for an apartment in London more befitting their station — and they’re throwing away money hand over fist to climb the social ladder. Then the rug is pulled out from under them: with the coming of the war, the sulfur mines on which their fortune was based have vanished. They have not a penny in the world.
Homeless and destitute, things look bleak indeed when their old housekeeper finds them. She’d amassed a nest-egg of her own and bought the Welby house when they left it. She also bought the neighboring two houses, connected the three together, and now operates them as a hotel. She employees the Welbies and gives them a place to stay. She’s bitten off more than she can chew, she tells them, and wants to scale back the operation. Would they like their house back?
Inscription: on the front flyleaf, “Emily E. Patterson”.
Aunt Sarah begs Daniel Quayne not to go to the Sicaster statutes fair. The Quaynes have never had any luck at Sicaster, but Daniel is set for going. He meets a young woman there, Rosanna, who’s plainly not a northerner from her speech, but her family has relocated from Surrey. They both find places at Campion’s farm. He’s saved a substantial sum of money and intends on going to Canada and establishing his own farm, which he’ll likely do after a year with Campion. Daniel is a simple sort and he is entirely smitten by Rosanna. That he’ll marry her he takes nearly for granted. Rosanna isn’t simple. She has casual dalliances with a number of men, but most significantly, Campion himself has fallen for her. Daniel finds them together and shoots them both. He’s hanged.
Inscription: pasted on the front endpaper is a rather elaborate plate showing a globe and several pastoral images that reads “O, Book, which from its proper shelf, My own good friend hath helped himself. Now like a dove with wings unloosed Come back, return, fly home to roost. Alfred H. Fair”. The title page is also signed A.H. Fair.
This is very much a book loaf rather than a novel. I get the feeling that Holman Day had a bunch of half-worked ideas none of which really had enough meat to stretch out to more than a hundred pages and just mashed them together. The result is this really rather long book that doesn’t tie together at all.
Ross Sidney goes to Portland to take up deep sea diving. He gets some experience and buys a suit, but then takes a swing at his employer for no particular reason and is blacklisted. He’s then taken on as a barker or something of that nature for a scam curiosities museum, but falls out with them when he helps two boys from his home town get back the money they’d been cheated. He goes back home to find that Judge Kingsley, the town treasurer, has been embezzling from the town and Ross’s uncle is about to spill the beans. (If that sounds familiar, it should, it’s the plot of Squire Phin.) Ross is in love with the Judge’s daughter Celene so he vows to set things right.
The Judge tried to raise money to correct the books, but the investment he made was with the very same con artists Ross was involved with. Ross and the Judge hop on the train and give chase without any clear idea of where they’re going or what they’re going to do if they find them. In the western desert, in a gold boom town, they find one of the men. Ross kind of then just knocks him down and steals his wallet, which conveniently contained all the Judge’s $16,000 in cash. Ross invests in a gold mine that turns out good and makes more money. They go home, the Judge bails himself out, but Celene chews out Ross for kidnapping her father.
Ross strikes out for San Fransisco to dive for a dubiously legal concern trying to recover the three million dollars in gold that was lost in the sinking of the Golden Gate. The wreck isn’t terribly deep, but the conditions make digging down to the strong room virtually impossible. An accident aboard the ship involving a monkey with an artificial tail gives Ross an idea to use water pressure to shift the sand, which works. The labor is tremendous and Ross has a breakdown shortly after the job is completed.
Captain Holstrom and his daughter Karna bring him back home. While Ross is delirious, Karna is pleading his case to Celene, who really does not care a great deal for Ross. When he comes to his senses, he realizes that he really loves Karna.
Inscriptions: ex libris of the Mantor Library, at what is now UMF.
Elizabeth goes to live with her relatives, the Rambleus, who are large vintners in California. Prohibition is on, though. They can legally produce a small amount of wine for sacramental use, but they’ve got to find some other way to make money, whether it’s selling the grapes directly or drying them into raisins first. Old Phillipe loves his vines like his children and would rather let the grapes rot than go to an inferior use. John, the expected heir, is great deal more ruthless.
The vineyards are old Philippe’s, but the household is run by Martha. She hates Elizabeth from the start but plans on marrying her to Henri Don Swanaña to join their lands together. There’s nothing Elizabeth wants to do less, but Martha is most forceful. On the night that the wedding is to be announced, Andrew offers to elope with her, which she does.
Philippe dies. The will comes a a surprise to John, in that he’s essentially left out of it. Martha is given the house but no control of the company. The northern vineyard, used to make sacramental wine, he gives to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is used to living in London and Paris and hasn’t ever been happy in the Californian countryside. Andrew is worn down until the point that he leaves. Prohibition is repealed and wine can be sold again. She can sell the vineyard and the wine casks for an enormous sum and go where she pleases, he tells her. But Elizabeth has come to identify with the land as well. With John’s help, she manages both the farming and business side of wine making.
At last, Andrew is convinced to come back home. He’d been fighting in the Spanish Civil War and is rather traumatized. He comes with a warning that the Spanish war is a prelude to a much larger war to come.
Inscription: on the top-right corner of the title page, “Mrs. John Cherry, April 1943”.
Adeline Whiteoak is dead and in her will, she’s everything to her grandson Finch. It isn’t millions, but it’s a sizable sum: $100,000. The Whiteoaks are a large, tight-knit family that all live at Jalna, the home Adeline set up after removing from England to Canada. That doesn’t stop them from at times being at each other’s throats. Finch has an artistic temperament and is hopelessly unsure of his 21-year-old self. He wants to use a part of the money to help each of his relatives, and they — to a greater or lesser extent — see him as an easily exploitable cash machine.
His gift to his two elderly uncles is a trip back to England to meet their sister Augusta one last time. She had arranged things to introduce Finch and Sarah Court in the hope of sparking something, and something does spark, but Finch is too terribly afraid of himself to pursue it. His friend Arthur Leigh visits and in scarcely a matter of days, he and Sarah are married. Sarah confesses afterward that she loves Finch.
Inscription: On the front flyleaf, “Fanny King, On the wide veranda at Morgan Street”.
Kind of a rambling book, but main plot is this: Small coastal town in Maine. Edward is in love with Elinor, but Elinor’s mother wants her to marry into wealth. Edward has no interest in the family farm and want to be a journalist. Leaves for Boston to start work. A rich summer guest falls in love with Elinor and she agrees to marry him for her mother’s sake. Elinor goes off to New York and realizes that she and this guy will never get along. Breaks engagement. Edward, meanwhile, has parlayed journalism into… anti-corporate espionage? The book lost me at this point, but Edward is now making the princely sum of $2,000 a year and he and Elinor marry.
I didn’t mention Stillman Gott? He’s an old, single farmer (ignore the title — the title lies) who sells his granite quarry for $25,000 which he anonymously bestows upon the town’s unfortunate.
Inscriptions: From the Stratton Public Library. Evidently not a popular title — it was only checked out four times, the last in 1953.