Recently I discovered that A Girl of the Limberlost was written as a sequel to Gene Stratton Porter’s Freckles. So many of the characters from Freckles were referenced that I decided I had to read it. When I didn’t find it on the shelf at the library I almost cried. Just a note, don’t look under Porter at your library… it’s probably shelved under Stratton.
Freckles lived up to all my expectations, and then some. There is considerably more action in Freckles than A Girl of the Limberlost. It’s the story of a one-handed orphan who has run from his previous life into the lumber camp of Mr. McLean looking for work. Something in McLean decides to give the boy a chance so he makes him the guard of the Limberlost swamp.
Freckles takes his responsibility very seriously. He knows that there are many valuable trees in the swamp and that threats have been made. He braves the swamp and the elements in his attempt to prove himself worthy of love, respect, and admiration. He is so dedicated that McLean decides to adopt him and educate him.
One day Freckles encounters the most beautiful young lady he has ever seen and promptly names her “Swamp Angel.” As a man of twenty he is immediately smitten. As an orphan of unknown antecedents he knows that he cannot aspire to her love or her hand. As a lover of the swamp and its creatures he becomes an invaluable friend to the Swamp Angel and her friend, the Bird Woman.
One day Mr. McLean makes a bet that Freckles will be such a good guard and be so honest that not one of the valuable trees will be poached. This sets the scene for plenty of action. There are kidnappings, daring rescues, races against time, and all sorts of fun. Will Freckles make good on the bet for McLean, or will the poachers get away with some valuable trees?
Of course I can’t forget to mention that it is also a love story. Freckles becomes very devoted to the Swamp Angel, but he tries very hard not to show it. She comes from a wealthy family and has lots of education. He doesn’t know who he is or who his family is. He only has one hand. In the social structure of the late 1890s to early 1900s there is zero chance he’d be allowed to court her.
Will his past be discovered in time to save him? Will the Swamp Angel return his fervent love? You will have to read it and find out!
I will confess that I was a little surprised by Freckles’ occasional use of one bad word. I think he used it three times. It’s not a reason to skip the book. I suspect it was used to show the roughness of his background.