The Days of Auld Lang Syne (Ian MacLaren, 1895)

A collection of short stories and a couple novellas or at least novelettes about Drumtochty, a small village in Scotland, and the people who inhabit it. All the ads in the back of the book are for religious literature, so I figured with would have a Christian bend, but no, not really. The stories don’t have much of point at all.

The second story is the longest and most fleshed-out. Burnbrae’s family has rented their farm in Drumtochty from Lord Kilspindie for centuries. Kilspindie is away and the new “factor” (something like a property manager), a city man from England, has a notion to forestall any factional trouble by renting only to those belonging to the Auld Kirk — the established religion. Burnbrae is a Free Kirk man — a dissenter. His lease is not renewed. When the estate is auctioned off, all the village comes together to bid generously and give Burnbrae a tidy parting gift. Meanwhile, Kilspindie returns after being told of what’s happened by the preachers of both the Auld and Free Kirks, neither of whom want to see Burnbrae expelled. The factor is overridden and Burnbrae’s lease is renewed. The villagers return the items without asking for their money back.

That’s about as churchy as it gets. The other stories mostly involve the elderly townsfolk dying and the other, equally elderly townsfolk remembering them. The stories are not in chronological order, so people die and resurrect frequently as you read.

Inscriptions: on the front flyleaf, “Melvin Sheaburne Hotchins, Eastport, 1935”. I have to say, I adore the handwriting. It’s not quite cursive and not quite print, but it’s marvelously distinctive. Later owned by Dorothea Flagg, who lived in a dumpy house on Parkview Avenue in Bangor. Perhaps it looked better in the past, but I can hardly imagine so.

The Ladies’ Juggernaut (Archibald Clavering Gunter, 1895)

A nouveau riche heiress is on a rest cure in Florida when she makes the acquaintance of an English drug seller. The two fall in love, but the heiress’s cousin plays a little trick on her, leading her to believe the man is engaged to another woman.

At home, it’s decided to purchase a titled husband for her to soothe her wounds. It’s all the rage among the smart set. The man turns out to be the English drug seller, who’s a viscount or something. The heiress, of course, won’t have him, but her 50 year old spinster aunt is quite willing.

Shock! Heiress discovers everything bad she’s heard about the Englishman has been a lie and he’s been nothing but faithful to her. It will take some ingenuity to fool her aunt into marrying a different man so she can have the viscount for herself.

No inscriptions.

For Love of Sigrid (Effie Adelaide Rowlands, 1895)

Sigrid is pulled out of the orphanage convent she’s lived in her whole life to serve as a traveling companion to Lady Yelvertoun, who has been jumping about the world for more than two years now. That she hates Sigrid is plain but she also can’t be separated from her. Sir John first met her when they were in New England. Aboard the Columbia on their return to Old England, they meet again. John has become a friend of Hugh Gretton, an older gentleman of considerable wealth returning home to die on English soil. He keeps the severity of his condition from Millicent, his daughter, so as not to frighten her. At the sight of Sigrid and Yelvertoun, he suffers a severe stroke and dies. Millicent becomes John’s ward. John knows that he loves Sigrid, but Millicent is frail and delicate and — most importantly — accustomed to being indulged in all her whims. Right now, she want to marry John and he’s resigned to the fact.

Skipping to the end now because you’re only missing a lot of filler. Lady Yelvertoun was lawfully though secretly married to Hugh Huntingdon and bore a child. When the Earl of Yelvertoun became the most eligible bachelor in England, Yelvertoun trumped up charges against Hugh — sending him into self-imposed exile — and dumped the scarcely newborn baby at a convent. Sigrid, as she’s called, is Yelvertoun’s daughter. Millicent was not biologically related to Hugh Gretton, a.k.a. Hugh Huntingdon — she’s the orphaned daughter of his business partner. Never mind Millicent, though. Flighty and capricious, she breaks her engagement to elope with the present Earl of Yelvertoun. John and Sigrid are married.

Inscriptions: Stamped on the front end paper “Clinton, Maine”. Public library? School system? I don’t know — perhaps it was the town’s own personal copy.

In Defiance of the King (Chauncey C. Hotchkiss, 1895)

An historical romance set during the American Revolution. Anthony is a young doctor in Connecticut. He falls in love with Dorothy, who’s the ward of his neighbor Squire Beauchamp. Anthony and his family are patriots while Beauchamp is a loyalist and secretly conspires to deliver Dorothy into the hands of Captain Bromfield of the British army. The fight for Anthony is not only for independence but for his beloved.

The narrative, which is told from Anthony’s perspective, exists on the periphery of history. He interacts and times with real personages and learns second or third hand of greater victories and setbacks, but the world he lives in is fairly small and the war, until the climax, is far away. The only engagement Anthony takes a direct, combatant part in is the Battle of Groton Heights — the last major battle on New England soil.

Inscription: signed Alton G. Johnston on the front flyleaf. I also found two short white hairs caught up between the pages that were likely his. Alton lived in Limerick, Maine. The Maine Register for 1908 reports that he was secretary to the Board of Health.