The Mountebank (William J. Locke, 1921)

A retired brigadier-general entrusts the story of his life to a writer. He started life as a foundling in France brought up in the circus, became a performer with a trained dog, then with a trained woman. They’re good friends, but not romantically involved — she’s devoted to the act, but not at all domestic. The war breaks out, he joins up, rises to brigadier-general — how is immaterial, that isn’t what the story is about. The general is in love with an English aristocrat, but feels like he can’t marry since there’s no work to be found and he has to return to the stage. That solves itself when she discovers what his employment is and isn’t bothered by, and when his assistant runs away with his erstwhile partner.

No inscriptions.

Viviette (William J. Locke, 1916)

Dick is not at all like his younger brother Austin. He isn’t popular, isn’t quick-witted, isn’t well educated, and doesn’t have a high profile or high paying job. He depends on Austin, and Austin is very generous towards Dick, but Austin takes his brother for granted and doesn’t begin to understand how humiliated and emasculated Dick feels. The only thing the brothers have in common is their love for Viviette. She leads them both on but demurs from accepting either of their marriage proposals. In truth, she’s not simply playing the coquette; she honestly can’t choose. Austin could give her wealth and society, but there’s something about Dick’s primitive, passionate love that fascinates her.

As usual, Austin isn’t even aware that Dick cares for Viviette, and his behavior towards her drives Dick almost mad with jealousy. A misunderstanding occurs in which Dick thinks Viviette has finally chosen Austin over himself, and Dick, pushed passed the breaking point, attempts to kill his brother. The attempt fails, but it awakens Austin to the situation. Dick wants to leave England and find some outdoor work in the New World, where he might live independently of his younger brother. Austin arranges a place for him in Vancouver — the condition being that Dick never see Viviette again. Austin is concerned by the murderous streak he’s suddenly discovered in Dick, and to prove that he’s not acting mercenary, he abandons Viviette himself.

The brothers are agreed, but Viviette is not. She has found that she’s up to the risk and has chosen at last. She will marry Dick and go with him to Vancouver.

Inscriptions: a stamp on the front flyleaf reveals that it was from the library of Mt. Kineo House, a large resort hotel on Moosehead Lake. The hotel, in one form or another, was in operation from 1844 to 1938, when it closed and, shortly thereafter, burned down. This is one of several books I’ve got from Kineo. On the back flyleaf, someone has been practicing what appears to be Chinese. I can’t transcribe it here, but there are 13 characters scattered haphazardly across the page. I only recognize one of them: 日, sun.

The Lengthened Shadow (William J. Locke, 1923)

Suzanne runs away from her wealthy uncle, who had demanded that she marry his friend Moordius, a Parisian financier. She finds her way to Timothy — a widower with one young daughter — and takes the position of governess in his house. When Uncle dies, Timothy finds himself named along with Moordius as being in joint custody of Suzanne’s fortune until her 25th birthday.

Moordius is a gambling addict. He’s already exhausted his own wealth and is quickly running through his firm’s. However, he is extremely is suave and persuasive. Neither Suzanne nor Timothy can resist his charm and both willingly play into his newest scheme — to take on Timothy as a business partner, marry Suzanne under French law (i.e., joint assets), bail himself out using her fortune, and blackmail Timothy into remaining silent with the threat of his own bankruptcy if the company should fail. Only his daughter, Valerie, knows the truth. She tries to warn them, but it’s her word against his, and he talks very well.

Derelicts (William J. Locke, 1897)

Stephen Chisley, having lived beyond his means too long, turned to embezzlement to pay his debts. For this, he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. On his release, he finds that he has been abandoned by his friends and family. His nearest relation, his cousin Canon (soon to be Bishop) Everard Chisley, pays him a small sum on the condition he change his name and never attempt to contact him again. This money is exhausted quickly, as no one will give Stephen Joyce work when they learn he is a felon.

Starvation looms when Yvonne Latour discovers him. She knew him in his youth and promised his mother (deceased while he was incarcerated) that she would look after him. She’s a widow who supports herself simply but comfortably as a singer. With a little practice, Joyce might be a half-decent baritone. She gets him a job in the chorus, but it all falls apart when another choruser, Annie, discovers his secret and tells everyone.

Joyce flees to South Africa with a barroom acquaintance, both hoping to forge new lives as colonial farmers. The farming does not go well (nor does his acquaintance — he dies of fever), but the book he had been working on, The Wasters (bit meta — the plot is the same as the Derelicts), is picked up by a publisher. On the advance money, he returns to London to find Yvonne.

Yvonne, meanwhile, has married Canon Chisley. Mrs. Winstanley, who had previously exerted great control over the man, is incensed with jealously. When she discovers, accidentally, that Yvonne’s first husband is not actually dead, she at once tells the Canon. The Canon is deeply in love with Yvonne, but proprietary forces them to separate. The Canon accepts a bishopric in New Zealand and leaves Yvonne behind. Yvonne, forced to work despite her delicate health, develops diphtheria and is hospitalized. Joyce finds her quite abandoned and wanting. He writes to the Bishop, but his letter is burned without being opened. He supports her himself with his writing and from the job he’s managed to get at a second-hand bookstore. They live together as siblings, and for the first time in several years, both regain some measure of happiness.

The Bishop learns that Yvonne’s first husband has died (for real, this time) and takes the very next boat back to England. He traces her to Joyce, who tells him of her illness and what has passed since. The Bishop begs his cousin’s forgiveness and asks Yvonne to remarry him. Joyce’s world is shattered. On the street, he sees Annie again. She’s been haunted by what she did to him in the chorus. She turned to drink, lost her friends, lost her job, knew “degradation”, and is now in the workhouse. Joyce sobs himself to sleep that night. Yvonne hears from outside his bedroom door.

Yvonne goes to the Bishop and says that she can’t marry him. She stays with Joyce, content with him, even if in poverty. Joyce reads in the morning paper that Annie drowned herself.