Oh, what a mystery is life, with all its mistakes and tragic
blunderings! What fatal darkness all about us, until all illumination
is too late!
Margaret Oliphant was a popular, prolific, and influential Scottish author during the 1800's, although her critical reception varied considerably during her life (and to this day). Thomas Bailey Aldritch was a widely respected American author, and editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1881 to 1890. Many works by either author are available at Project Gutenberg, but notably The Second Son—a unique collaboration by the two—has remained under the radar.
Originally published in the Atlantic Monthly from January 1887 to February 1888, The Second Son was published in book form in 1888. While it starts out slowly, almost genteely, it eventually builds up steam and turns into an excellent literary fracas. This is the story of a choleric, cantankerous Squire and his three sons: Roger, the eldest, is stubborn and idealistic; Edmund, the second, is intellectual and a "milksop;" Stephen, the youngest, is a soldier and a rake. When Roger falls in love with the gamekeeper's daughter, he finds himself disinherited, with Edmund refusing to take his place, but when Stephen, the newly-minted heir, makes a villainous play for the same girl, the fur really begins to fly.
My transcription of the 1888 edition primarily came from this scan, and was checked against this scan. While I have not intentionally added or omitted a single word in the body of work itself, I have omitted references to page numbers in the table of contents.
So here it is: the master HTML version, the home-brew Kindle version, and the actual Amazon publication.
As Stephen says, "Larkins, some chablis. Why, man alive! you don't serve sherry, I hope, with the fish?"
April 12, 2021
ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures