King Spruce (Holman Day, 1908)

Dwight Wade, high school principal, is in love with John Barrett’s daughter Elva. Barrett and Pulaski Britt are great lumber magnates. Wade disapproves of their wasteful methods that are killing the forests. Forced to resign, Wade takes a forestry job with Rodburd Ide. Colin MacLeod, Britt’s boss, is in love with Ide’s daughter Nina and jealous of Wade.

It’s been many years since Barrett has seen his woods. This year, he makes the trip. He’s stayed away because “Ladder” Lane, the fire lookout, knows his secret: that he stole Lane’s wife, she became pregnant, and he abandoned the child with a camp of squatters. Kate Arden is the girl’s name (it sounds like Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. The Abenaki considered it the home of the gods, particularly Gluskabe, the trickster god). When Britt’s crew come to evict the squatters, Kate sets fire to the forest. Lane takes Barrett captive and ties him up in the fire’s path. Wade finds him and frees him, getting his promise that he’ll pay for the girl’s education. Barrett reneges on this almost instantly.

Barrett grows dangerously ill and is taken into town, where he stays with Ide. Kate has also been staying with Nina. When Elva comes to see her father, she knows at once that Kate is her sister. Nina and Elva travel north to the lumber camp to talk with Wade, but Elva is kidnapped along the way by Lane. Lane is so enraged that he has a stroke and dies. Wade and his guide find Elva and rescue her.

Britt has dammed the stream that Ide depends on to get his lumber out. Tommy Eye, a teamster whose life Wade saved, dynamites the dam, draining the lake almost entirely down Ide’s stream and leaving no water at all for Britt. Humbled, Barrett consents to Wade and Elva’s marriage.

Inscriptions: On the reverse of the frontispiece (odd place to sign), “Irving A. Sorvino, Christmas 1919”.

Where Your Treasure Is (Holman Day, 1917)

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.

The Landloper (Holman Day, 1915)

A man calling himself Walker Farr walks far and wide. He’s evidently from the west somewhere, but he winds up in Lewiston a large mill town in Maine this state. The town’s public water supply — as is every town’s water supply in the state — is controlled by the Consolidated Water Company. To maximize profits, they draw from the polluted Androscoggin the river rather than run pipes several miles north to the clean water of Lake Auburn the lake. Farr arrives to see one of the Quebecois mill workers pulled out of the canal, where she’s drowned herself. He takes care of her orphaned daughter, but the child soon contracts typhoid and dies. Farr makes it his mission to clean up the water situation.

This will mean a complete political overhaul. It’s not enough to just elect in the other party — the lip service varies, but both parties are ultimately in the pocket of big business. It will mean packing the legislature with those in sympathy to the cause and electing an honest man governor that won’t simply veto any progressive legislation. They find him in Archer Converse. Farr’s grandstanding at the convention gets Converse nominated, much to his surprise, as he had no will or notion of getting into politics. But the tide had turned and even the Consolidated sees the writing on the wall.

Inscriptions: “H.E. Knapf”, on the front flyleaf. In another hand and ink, “Mar. 10, ’25” on the facing endpaper.

(104 books this year? It seems like so many, considering I’ve not even bothered to summarize two thirds of the Perry Mason novellas I’ve read.)

Squire Phin (Holman Day, 1905)

Palermo is a small town in Mid-Coast Maine near to Rockland. Bear in mind, while the real-life Palermo is land-locked, this one isn’t. In fact, had the town been given a fictional name, I’d have guessed it was Camden.

The people there are farmers or they work in shipping, almost to a man. Judge Willard is the local aristocracy. He and his father before him have been the town treasurer for decades. The Willards are assumed to be fabulously rich — he must know how to handle money. The Looks are the black sheep of Palermo, but Phineas Look gets out, goes to law school, and finishes top in his class. He could practice anywhere, but chooses to come back to Palermo. Few of the townspeople have more than a basic education, so Squire Phin is treated as a reference desk and general authority on anything.

Phin and Sylvena, the Judge’s daughter, are in love, but the Judge will not see a Willard married to a Look. He has selected King Bradish for her. The Judge is a financier and he takes Bradish on with him. Phin begins to notice certain irregularities. According to the accounts, the town is only $2,000 in debt this year, yet a client comes in with a note for $7,000 signed by the Judge. More and more comes out, and it becomes clear that the Judge must have embezzled at the very least tens of thousands of dollars from the town.

If this was exposed, it would ruin the Willards, including Sylvena, and would forever tarnish Palermo’s reputation. Instead, Phin campaigns to have the Judge re-elected, allow him time to liquidate everything he owns to mostly pay back the embezzled funds, and then Phin covers for the rest. The books now clean, the Judge resigns. Phin and Sylvena marry.

Inscriptions: stamped a couple times on the front endpaper and flyleaf, “From the office of Jos. C. Holman, Farmington, Me.” Relative, perhaps? Farmington isn’t far from Auburn.

The Rider of the King Log (Holman Day, 1919)

A large paper firm is trying to monopolize access to a river dependent on by the local loggers. The X.K. refuses to sell out and won’t be denied their water rights. Since her father’s death, Claire has been the head of the X.K. Donald Kezar is in love with Claire, but with her in power over the firm, he sees himself losing his power over her. He begins secretly sabotaging their operations — at last reaching that point that he’d rather see the X.K. out of business than in Claire’s hands.

Inscriptions: From the Stratton Public Library, in Stratton, Maine. First added to the collection in 1933, last checked out by H.S. Dexter in August 31st, 1953. Not a very fast reader — kept it out for six weeks, altogether.

The Red Lane (Holman Day, 1912)

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.

No inscriptions.

The Ramrodders (Holman Day, 1910)

“Duke” Thelismer Thornton is a long-serving Republican state representative from Fort Canibas. The book carefully avoids ever mentioning the state, but it’s plainly Maine. It references several real towns and prominent political figures of the past like James Blaine, and it’s about the controversial “Maine law” — i.e., prohibition of alcohol, which Maine passed several years before it became a national platform. The fictional Fort Canibas is an amalgam of several predominately French-speaking towns in northern Maine, but mostly Fort Kent. Anyway, after decades of service (and enriching himself not at a little from it), the Duke is ready to retire and want to see his grandson, Harlan, elected in his place. His choice for governor is General Waymouth. He had already been governor once, but now in his old age, has withdrawn from public life, disgusted at the farce of it all.

After some persuasion, the Duke gets Waymouth to throw in his hat and select Harlan as his personal aide. But Waymouth, it seems, is no longer willing to play the game. He won’t publicly denounce alcohol while privately collecting kickbacks from rum-runners and protection money from speakeasies. To the horror of the Duke and the rest of the Republican political machine, Waymouth intends to run an honest campaign. They can’t revoke his candidacy because he threatens to run as an independent, so even if he did lose, the Republican party would split and give the election to the Democrats.

Waymouth is elected and prohibition is enforced. And… it does not go well. It turns out that even the “ramrodders” (the prohibition lobbyists) were more enamored by the idea than they were the practice. Waymouth isn’t disappointed. He had no personal objection to the use of alcohol. He merely wanted to see that the laws as they stood were enforced, and if the people didn’t like those laws, they should get rid of them; and if the people found their representatives corrupt and profiting off the selective enforcement of the law, they should get rid of them, too.

Inscription: on the flyleaf, “Annie R. Smith, 1910, filed under Maine Politics”. Annie must have run an organized library. Lovely shape, too. I’ve got a few Holman Day books that are all pretty beat up, except this one. Well taken care of.