Evangeline comes home from the convent to find her Acadian father Beaulieu is a smuggler and has arranged her marriage to fellow smuggler Roi. Away she flees to become a teacher at the new English school further up the St. John and falls in love with Aldrich, a customs agent. Dad and fiance aren’t anywhere near ready to give up, though. Meanwhile, the land the Acadians have been squatting on for generations has been bought up by a lumber syndicate and they’re evicted. Their representative has been tirelessly trying to buy the land, but a newcomer with connections to Roi (and the syndicate, but that’s a secret) threatens to oust him come election time.
The second volume of the Old Squire series chronicling a boy and his several cousins orphaned by the Civil War and taken in by their grandfather. Unlike the others where every chapter was more or less a stand-alone story, more than half of this book is about a single incident. Tibbetts is the town grocer but the store is just a front — he’s actually a rum-runner. He’s at odds with the Old Squire, who’s all for temperance. Tibbetts connives by buying voters to take control of the school district and slash its funding. Joel Pierson, the much beloved teacher, is replaced by Sam Lurvey, a good for nothing son of one of Tibbetts’s cronies. Tibbetts is eventually caught tampering with the mail and to avoid prison agrees to restore the school’s funding and re-hire Joel.
Inscription: “Milton Harman, Columbus, Ohio, Dec 2, 1921” on the front flyleaf.
I’m not entirely certain what to call this. It isn’t an epistolary novel. Rather, it takes the form of a rough draft of a memoir written by two different people over the course of several years. The chapters are presented chronologically, but they weren’t written so. There are jumps in the narrative, and confusing parts where you’re just dropped into the middle of a scene and have to muddle out what’s going on.
Jesse begins with a description of his early childhood in Labrador, which was very harsh. As a teenager, penniless and with both his parents dead, he makes the acquaintance of a man named Durham. Durham claims to be a fabulously wealthy nobleman. He’s neither, of course, but he leads naive Jesse out west to Arizona to be a cowboy and introduces him to alcohol. He also introduces him to Polly, a prostitute who marries him as a joke, but Jesse doesn’t understand that. When she tires of his jealousy, she fakes suicide and Jesse flees north to British Columbia.
Kate is an opera singer and is married to another opera singer who’s lost his voice. They’re in Canada for a rest cure, but far from being cured, Trevor has gone quite insane. He drowns while attempting to murder her. Jesse takes her in and the two fall in love. They’re married and have a son, David (the Biblical Jesse of course being David’s father — there’s a David and Goliath allegory running through the book, too).
Enter once more Durham, now calling himself Brooke. He’s a cattle rustler looking to hide his stolen herd at Jesse’s ranch, which he thought was abandoned. Exactly how it happened is confused, but the gang is caught and extradited back to the US. Brooke alone saves himself from the noose by turning state’s evidence against his compatriots. To revenge himself, he brings Polly back from the dead to break apart Jesse’s marriage.
Brooke effectively brings ruin to the entire community and Polly spirals into alcoholism. When the community rallies and begins pushing back against them, things turn violent. A fight breaks out. Polly is badly wounded but ultimately kills Brooke. Afterward, she shoots herself.
During the Civil War, all of the Old Squire’s sons are killed. His grandchildren come to the farm to live with him and his wife. The book never actually says where the farm is, but from the description of the land and neighboring areas, there’s no way it isn’t Norway. The author character (I should say, I assume this is autobiographical, but I don’t know how fictionalized it is) is a twelve year old boy from Philadelphia, unused to rural living or farm life, but eager to give it a go. He’s never met any of his five other cousins before but he quickly becomes friends with all of them, except maybe Halstead. The book has no overarching narrative, it’s merely a series of incidents and little adventures of the sort that twelve year olds get into. Rather similar to Farmer Boy but not going into such detail about mundane farm activities.
Inscription: A plate pasted on the inside front cover says it’s from the Weld Public Library.
An idealistic preacher travels west to escape from the memory of the girl he lost. As fate would have it, he finds Janet in the custody of Ty Jones, an unscrupulous rancher. She appears to have amnesia and it’s not clear how she came to be there, but the word is that Ty has taken her for a wife. After a shootout in which Ty is paralyzed, he confesses that she’s actually his half-sister and he kidnapped her in revenge for their mother keeping her and abandoning him. Janet’s amnesia was caused by a brain tumor. Once the pressure on her brain is relieved, her memory returns and she and the Friar marry.
Inscriptions: Two sentence fragments have been underlined for reasons I can’t fathom. Underlined on page 32 is “The’ was somethin’ peculiar about the Friar’s grin when he first sighted Columbus, and”, and around a dozen lines later on page 33, “So that’s what we made up to do;”. Apart from that, there are no other markings on the book.
Whitney Barnes, son of the great mustard magnate, has been given the ultimatum that he must marry and produce grandchildren for his dear old father before the year’s over or he’s out on his ass. His friend, Travers Gladwin, has unexpectedly returned from a tour of Egypt and is back in town incognito because he’s discovered that his former butler has been stealing from him and he expects to catch him red handed.
Helen Burton, of the Omaha Burtons, is also in town at the behest of her mother, who has arranged a marriage for her with Jabez Hogg, a man with little appeal besides his millions. Helen has another idea, however: she plans to elope with Travers Gladwin. She and her cousin Sadie appear at the Gladwin mansion, but the man who greets her at the door is not at all who she was expecting. It turns out that her Gladwin is an imposter in cahoots with the former butler and is using Helen as a cover to steal several valuable paintings from the mansion.
It’s love at first sight for Gladwin (the real one) and Helen, as well for Barnes and Sadie, but the rub is how to avert the robbery while simultaneously avoiding a scandal. They enlist the help of a dimwitted cop named Michael Phelan (viz., bribed him with $500), but his help proves to be a burden and he nearly brings the whole enterprise down on their heads. At last, Gladwin decides to let the thief go (he really was gentlemanly thief after all — in it for the art, you know), all the interested parties decide to drop their respective charges, and both he and Helen and Barnes and Sadie are married the next day.