Monday, August 13, 2012

One mystery solved: It was "Girl in Ten Thousand"

I few weeks ago, I wrote about going through a box of used books and coming across this poor thing at the bottom. It happens. Hundred-year-old books fall apart. The pages get separated from the covers.

I posted the image of the torn-off back cover and figured it was a mystery that would never be solved.

Oh, I but I was wrong.

In a whirlwind of cleaning and sorting late last week, I came across a book without a back cover. I flipped it open and — lo and behold! — there was the same illustration I had seen before. The two parts of the book could be reunited.

And so I can report now that the book is "Girl in Ten Thousand," which was written by prolific Irish author Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1854–1914) and first published in 1896.

Meade, who used the pen name of L.T. Meade, published more than 300 books, focusing largely on juvenile fiction for girls and mystery novels, in her lifetime.

Her titles, some certainly curious, included:
  • Water Gipsies: A Story of Canal Life in England
  • Mother Herring's Chicken
  • Dickory Dock
  • Wild Kitty: A School Story
  • Bad Little Hannah: A Story for Girls
  • The Desire of Men: An Impossibility
  • The Cleverest Woman in England
  • The Dead Hand: Being the First of the Experiences of the Oracle of Maddox Street
  • Old Readymoney's Daughter
  • A Bunch of Cousins and the Barn Boys

"Girl in Ten Thousand" begins and ends with these two paragaphs, which were about all I was willing to dive into:
  • "You are the comfort of my life, Effie. If you make up your mind to go away, what is to become of me?"
  • It is true that there are whispers afloat with regard to her and Lawson — whispers which always give a feeling of consternation in the ward which she manages so skillfully — but only Effie herself can tell if there is truth in them of not.

The book also includes a "bonus" — a 40-page tale called "Father Hedgehog and His Neighbors" that comes after the conclusion of Meade's novel.

No author is listed, but some Google searching seems to indicate that the author is Julia Horatio Ewing.

One of the neatest things about "Girl in Ten Thousand" is the inscription on the illustration that appears on the first page (the same illustration is used four times in the book).

The inscription states:
Presented to,
Crystal Wiseman
greatest no of
in 5th grade.
April 10, 1918.

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