Maggie Lee (Charlotte M. Brame, 1870s?)

The last short story appended to Dora Thorne. Graham Thornton returns to Greystone Hall, his country estate. Maggie Lee, the orphaned niece of the village shopkeeper, pines for an education, but she’s forever being pulled out of school to mind the store. Thornton offers her the use of his library, which she readily accepts. Thornton and Maggie fall in love, but when it comes time to marry, he chooses a rich socialite for his bride. Heartbroken Maggie withers and dies and Thornton blames himself. His first born he names Maggie Lee, but it turns out the child is blind! Complete with italics and exclamation mark. I don’t entirely understand the moral there, other than that these short stories are too short for their own good and need a great deal more fleshing out.

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The Answered Prayer (Charlotte M. Brame, 1870s?)

Another short story appended to Dora Thorne. Two friends, one marries for love (although it turns out her husband is a drunkard) and the other for money. Both have a child that lies dying. Money mom prays for her son’s life, love mom that God’s will be done. Love mom’s child dies, but her husband is so afflicted that he gives up drinking and joins a church. Money mom’s son grows up to be a sailor, leads an unsuccessful mutiny, and is hanged.

The Secret Panel (Charlotte M. Brame, 1870s?)

There are a few short stories appended to Dora Thorne. This is a very short Gothic horror set in a German castle. The Baron Waldrec’s wife disappeared nineteen years ago. Frederic Enstein stands to inherit almost all his fortune. Sir Rudolph angles to capture it by marrying his daughter Theresa to him. Slight hitch — he’s already engaged — but Euphemia disappears too. I haven’t mentioned that the castle is haunted, but it is, by the Spirit of the Hartz Mountains. The spirit turns out to be the baron’s wife, who Rudolph attempted to drown, but was rescued by a fortune teller. Also, she was pregnant and Euphemia is her daughter. The spirit is apparently a role one takes a vow to fulfill — the fortune teller was the previous spirit, then the baron’s wife became the spirit — and one has to maintain the vow until it’s necessary to disclose yourself to save a life. Rudolph had sealed Euphemia up in a hidden panel in the hall. All this happens in 20 pages.

Dora Thorne (Charlotte M. Brame, 1877)

Ronald, heir to Earlecourt, falls in love with the lodge keeper’s daughter, Dora. His father, Lord Earle, forbids him from marrying so far beneath his station, but he does it anyway. For this, he’s expelled from the house. Ronald and Dora move to Florence, where he intends on becoming a painter. Alone, they were happy enough, but when Ronald starts appearing more in society, he’s embarrassed by Dora’s rustic manners and Dora becomes jealous of his attention to Valentine Charteris — the woman his father had picked to be his bride. It comes to a head when Ronald, so scandalized by Dora’s behavior, abandons her and his two children.

Twins Lillian and Beatrice return to England with Dora to live with her parents. Sixteen years pass. When Lord Earle dies and Ronald inherits Earlecourt, he still refuses to see Dora, but calls for his children to join him there. While they lived in obscurity, Beatrice had met and fallen in love with a merchant sailor. She promised to marry him in two years when he returned from China. All that’s tossed aside when she enters society and the Earl of Airlie begins paying court to her. A November wedding is arranged, but that’s just when the sailor is due back.

Beatrice thought as little of Hugh as she might. She hoped he’d die at sea or that he’d found somebody new. She certainly didn’t dare tell anyone else for fear that she, too, would be cast out. Hugh returns, they meet in secret, there’s a scene. Hugh didn’t exactly drown her but he certainly didn’t prevent her from drowning. Before dying himself, he writes to Ronald confessing to everything. Ronald suddenly realizes that all of this was his fault and that, between him and Dora, he was the one who acted with the least honor for abandoning his family. He and Dora reconcile.

Inscription: Signed Vesta Day on the front flyleaf. She evidently liked this style of story — I’ve also got her copy of The Road to Understanding and its plot is very similar.