TODAY’S EVENTS REPEAT YESTERDAY’S HISTORY
A SYNOPSIS OF THE NOVEL: INTERTWINED LOVE
Standing on the flat surface of Maine’s rocky, weather-worn Schoodic Mountain, MADAME ROSALIE BACLER de LEVAL reveled in the views of her “promised land.” It was October 11, 1791. The hills were alive with color.
Madame, a French Revolution refugee, left her homeland to wait out the war in America. She expected to join her countrymen in Scioto, Ohio, where the Scioto Associates (a sub-grant of the Ohio Company) had planned a French community on a huge land tract.
COL. WILLIAM DUER and GEN. HENRY KNOX, the most active of the Scioto Associates land speculators, expected to gain big profits by selling land to French refugees. However, when they lacked the funds to pay the Ohio Company for the land, the Associates went belly-up. The men abandoned the project, leaving many dissatisfied and broken French people as residual damage. Madame was one of them.
Unable to contain their lust for profiting through land speculation, Duer and Knox turned their interests to two Maine land tracts, east of the Penobscot River, owned by the Massachusetts Land Company.
Madame and her compatriot, WILLIAM de la ROCHE, contracted to purchase Maine acreage from Knox and Duer. They planned to develop a community based on the prerevolutionary French regime.
However, Duer and Knox’s finances were severely overextended by their land speculations. While Duer was in debtor’s prison for his own protection, the men negotiated a land sale with WILLIAM BINGHAM and ALEXANDER BARING.
Madame was caught in the midst of the turmoil. Although she fulfilled her part of the bargain to the tune of $16,000—planning the community and finding settlers to fill it—she couldn’t proceed because Duer, Knox, Bingham and Baring couldn’t—or wouldn’t—provide her with the necessary land deeds. Without the deeds, Madame could not complete her land sales, which was a necessary step for funding her contractual payments and for building her community.
In 1794, Madame wed a former Dutch ambassador to the United States, FRANCO van BERCKLE. After their efforts to negotiate a settlement with Bingham and Baring, they placed several small pieces of Madame’s personal Trenton, Maine, property, for which she held the deeds, in the hands of a lawyer. Then they relocated to British Guiana, living on a plantation owned by van Berckle.
When Madame first arrived in Philadelphia, she met up with French refugee LOUIS des ISLES. His love for her, which began in France, was rekindled. His feelings of being beneath her was intensified by his shyness—thus, he still dared not approach her in other than a supportive attitude.
Louis followed Madame to Trenton, Maine. Upon his arrival, a young woman, MARY GOOGINS, saw him disembark. Her heart jumped and melted. It mattered not that JOSEPH SWETT had begun courting her. It was obvious to all that this feisty redhead’s heart was grabbed by her first glimpse of Louis.
Joseph soon understood this, but he continued to gain her attention. Mary just as futilely tried to gain Louis’ attention.
Louis heart died when he heard about Madame’s 1794 marriage to Franco. Lonely and homesick, he finally succumbed to Mary’s comfort and support. The couple wed in 1796. Mary was elated, even though she knew Louis was only settling for her. Joseph was distraught.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, following the birth of their eighth child, Louis went to Boston. There, a sea captain convinced him he should return to France to claim his inheritance.
Enroute to France, Louis’ ship was captured. He spent the remainder wartime in England’s Dartmoor Prison.
Mary was devastated when, after receiving no word from Louis, he was presumed lost at sea. However, with Joseph’s comfort, Mary soon realized her future rested with him. They were wed, and a son was born.
Two years later Mary received a letter from Louis’s hometown, Alencon, France.
Mary responded, telling Louis about her new life. Louis wrote back, encouraging her to stay with Joseph because his health was too sour for him to ever return to America.
Thus the story that begins in Boston, moves to France, returns to Philadelphia, and rests not only on the soil of Hancock and Washington Counties in Maine but that of British Guiana,.ends. The story, based on land speculation founded on greed and altruism, intertwines the love of Louis for Madame; Madame for no one (including Franco); Mary for Louis, and Joseph for Mary.
E-mail me: intertwined_love.new_england at yahoo.com.