An orphan longs to find his place in the world in this tale of courage, loyalty, and love. Young Freckles' quest for self-discovery unfolds amid the natural beauty of Indiana's Limberlost Swamp.
About the Author
Gene Stratton-Porter (1863–1924) wrote several bestselling novels and was estimated to have had 50 million readers around the world. She used her prominent position to support conservation of Limberlost Swamp and other Indiana wetlands. Stratton-Porter was also one of the first women to form a movie studio and production company, and her Limberlost novels have been adapted to film many times.
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By Gene Stratton-Porter
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2017 Gene Stratton-Porter
All rights reserved.
WHEREIN GREAT RISKS ARE TAKEN AND THE LIMBERLOST GUARD IS HIRED
Freckles came down the corduroy that crosses the lower end of the Limberlost. At a glance he might have been mistaken for a tramp, but he was truly seeking work. He was intensely eager to belong somewhere and to be attached to almost any enterprise that would furnish him food and clothing.
Long before he came in sight of the camp of the Grand Rapids Lumber Company, he could hear the cheery voices of the men, the neighing of the horses, and could scent the tempting odours of cooking food. A feeling of homeless friendlessness swept over him in a sickening wave. Without stopping to think, he turned into the newly made road and followed it to the camp, where the gang was making ready for supper and bed.
The scene was intensely attractive. The thickness of the swamp made a dark, massive background below, while above towered gigantic trees. The men were calling jovially back and forth as they unharnessed tired horses that fell into attitudes of rest and crunched, in deep content, the grain given them. Duncan, the brawny Scotch head-teamster, lovingly wiped the flanks of his big bays with handfuls of pawpaw leaves, as he softly whistled, "O wha will be my dearie, O!" and a cricket beneath the leaves at his feet accompanied him. The green wood fire hissed and crackled merrily. Wreathing tongues of flame wrapped around the big black kettles, and when the cook lifted the lids to plunge in his testing-fork, gusts of savoury odours escaped.
Freckles approached him.
"I want to speak with the Boss," he said.
The cook glanced at him and answered carelessly: "He can't use you."
The colour flooded Freckles' face, but he said simply: "If you will be having the goodness to point him out, we will give him a chance to do his own talking."
With a shrug of astonishment, the cook led the way to a rough board table where a broad, square-shouldered man was bending over some account-books.
"Mr. McLean, here's another man wanting to be taken on the gang, I suppose," he said.
"All right," came the cheery answer. "I never needed a good man more than I do just now."
The manager turned a page and carefully began a new line.
"No use of your bothering with this fellow," volunteered the cook. "He hasn't but one hand."
The flush on Freckles' face burned deeper. His lips thinned to a mere line. He lifted his shoulders, took a step forward, and thrust out his right arm, from which the sleeve dangled empty at the wrist.
"That will do, Sears," came the voice of the Boss sharply. "I will interview my man when I finish this report."
He turned to his work, while the cook hurried to the fires. Freckles stood one instant as he had braced himself to meet the eyes of the manager; then his arm dropped and a wave of whiteness swept him. The Boss had not even turned his head. He had used the possessive. When he said "my man," the hungry heart of Freckles went reaching toward him.
The boy drew a quivering breath. Then he whipped off his old hat and beat the dust from it carefully. With his left hand he caught the right sleeve, wiped his sweaty face, and tried to straighten his hair with his fingers. He broke a spray of ironwort beside him and used the purple bloom to beat the dust from his shoulders and limbs. The Boss, busy over his report, was, nevertheless, vaguely alive to the toilet being made behind him, and scored one for the man.
McLean was a Scotchman. It was his habit to work slowly and methodically. The men of his camps never had known him to be in a hurry or to lose his temper. Discipline was inflexible, but the Boss was always kind. His habits were simple. He shared camp life with his gangs. The only visible signs of wealth consisted of a big, shimmering diamond stone of ice and fire that glittered and burned on one of his fingers, and the dainty, beautiful thoroughbred mare he rode between camps and across the country on business.
No man of McLean's gangs could honestly say that he ever had been overdriven or underpaid. The Boss never had exacted any deference from his men, yet so intense was his personality that no man of them ever had attempted a familiarity. They all knew him to be a thorough gentleman, and that in the great timber city several millions stood to his credit.
He was the only son of that McLean who had sent out the finest ships ever built in Scotland. That his son should carry on this business after the father's death had been his ambition. He had sent the boy through the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, and allowed him several years' travel before he should attempt his first commission for the firm.
Then he was ordered to southern Canada and Michigan to purchase a consignment of tall, straight timber for masts, and south to Indiana for oak beams. The young man entered these mighty forests, parts of which lay untouched since the dawn of the morning of time. The clear cool, pungent atmosphere was intoxicating. The intense silence, like that of a great empty cathedral, fascinated him. He gradually learned that, to the shy wood creatures that darted across his path or peeped inquiringly from leafy ambush, he was brother. He found himself approaching, with a feeling of reverence, those majestic trees that had stood through ages of sun, wind, and snow. Soon it became difficult to fell them. When he had filled his order and returned home, he was amazed to learn that in the swamps and forests he had lost his heart and it was calling — forever calling him.
When he inherited his father's property, he promptly disposed of it, and, with his mother, founded a home in a splendid residence in the outskirts of Grand Rapids. With three partners, he organized a lumber company. His work was to purchase, fell, and ship the timber to the mills. Marshall managed the milling process and passed the lumber to the factory. From the lumber, Barthol made beautiful and useful furniture, which Uptegrove scattered all over the world from a big wholesale house. Of the thousands who saw their faces reflected on the polished surfaces of that furniture and found comfort in its use, few there were to whom it suggested mighty forests and trackless swamps, and the man, big of soul and body, who cut his way through them, and with the eye of experience doomed the proud trees that were now entering the homes of civilization for service.
When McLean turned from his finished report, he faced a young man, yet under twenty, tall, spare, heavily framed, closely freckled, and red-haired, with a homely Irish face, but in the steady gray eyes, straightly meeting his searching ones of blue, there was unswerving candour and the appearance of longing not to be ignored. He was dressed in the roughest of farm clothing, and seemed tired to the point of falling.
"You are looking for work?" questioned McLean.
"Yis," answered Freckles.
"I am very sorry," said the Boss with genuine sympathy in his every tone, "but there is only one man I want at present — a hardy, big fellow with a stout heart and a strong body. I hoped that you would do, but I am afraid you are too young and scarcely strong enough."
Freckles stood, hat in hand, watching McLean.
"And what was it you thought I might be doing?" he asked.
The Boss could scarcely repress a start. Somewhere before accident and poverty there had been an ancestor who used cultivated English, even with an accent. The boy spoke in a mellow Irish voice, sweet and pure. It was scarcely definite enough to be called brogue, yet there was a trick in the turning of the sentence, the wrong sound of a letter here and there, that was almost irresistible to McLean, and presaged a misuse of infinitives and possessives with which he was very familiar and which touched him nearly. He was of foreign birth, and despite years of alienation, in times of strong feeling he committed inherited sins of accent and construction.
"It's no child's job," answered McLean. "I am the field manager of a big lumber company. We have just leased two thousand acres of the Limberlost. Many of these trees are of great value. We can't leave our camp, six miles south, for almost a year yet; so we have blazed a trail and strung barbed wires securely around this lease. Before we return to our work, I must put this property in the hands of a reliable, brave, strong man who will guard it every hour of the day, and sleep with one eye open at night. I shall require the entire length of the trail to be walked at least twice each day, to make sure that our lines are up and that no one has been trespassing."
Freckles was leaning forward, absorbing every word with such intense eagerness that he was beguiling the Boss into explanations he had never intended making.
"But why wouldn't that be the finest job in the world for me?" he pleaded. "I am never sick. I could walk the trail twice, three times every day, and I'd be watching sharp all the while."
"It's because you are scarcely more than a boy, and this will be a trying job for a work-hardened man," answered McLean. "You see, in the first place, you would be afraid. In stretching our lines, we killed six rattlesnakes almost as long as your body and as thick as your arm. It's the price of your life to start through the marsh-grass surrounding the swamp unless you are covered with heavy leather above your knees.
"You should be able to swim in case high water undermines the temporary bridge we have built where Sleepy Snake Creek enters the swamp. The fall and winter changes of weather are abrupt and severe, while I would want strict watch kept every day. You would always be alone, and I don't guarantee what is in the Limberlost. It is lying here as it has laid since the beginning of time, and it is alive with forms and voices. I don't pretend to say what all of them come from; but from a few slinking shapes I've seen, and hair-raising yells I've heard, I'd rather not confront their owners myself; and I am neither weak nor fearful.
"Worst of all, any man who will enter the swamp to mark and steal timber is desperate. One of my employees at the south camp, John Carter, compelled me to discharge him for a number of serious reasons. He came here, entered the swamp alone, and succeeded in locating and marking a number of valuable trees that he was endeavouring to sell to a rival company when we secured the lease. He has sworn to have these trees if he has to die or to kill others to get them; and he is a man that the strongest would not care to meet."
"But if he came to steal trees, wouldn't he bring teams and men enough: that all any one could do would be to watch and be after you?" queried the boy.
"Yes," replied McLean.
"Then why couldn't I be watching just as closely, and coming as fast, as an older, stronger man?" asked Freckles.
"Why, by George, you could!" exclaimed McLean. "I don't know as the size of a man would be half so important as his grit and faithfulness, come to think of it. Sit on that log there and we will talk it over. What is your name?"
Freckles shook his head at the proffer of a seat, and folding his arms, stood straight as the trees around him. He grew a shade whiter, but his eyes never faltered.
"Freckles!" he said.
"Good enough for everyday," laughed McLean, "but I scarcely can put 'Freckles' on the company's books. Tell me your name."
"I haven't any name," replied the boy.
"I don't understand," said McLean.
"I was thinking from the voice and the face of you that you wouldn't," said Freckles, slowly. "I've spent more time on it than I ever did on anything else in all me life, and I don't understand. Does it seem to you that any one would take a new-born baby and row over it, until it was bruised black, cut off its hand, and leave it out in a bitter night on the steps of a charity home, to the care of strangers? That's what somebody did to me."
McLean stared aghast. He had no reply ready, and presently in a low voice he suggested: "And after —?"
"The Home people took me in, and I was there the full legal age and several years over. For the most part we were a lot of little Irishmen together. They could always find homes for the other children, but nobody would ever be wanting me on account of me arm."
"Were they kind to you?" McLean regretted the question the minute it was asked.
"I don't know," answered Freckles. The reply sounded so hopeless, even to his own ears, that he hastened to qualify it by adding: "You see, it's like this, sir. Kindnesses that people are paid to lay off in job lots and that belong equally to several hundred others, ain't going to be soaking into any one fellow so much."
"Go on," said McLean, nodding comprehendingly.
"There's nothing worth the taking of your time to tell," replied Freckles. "The Home was in Chicago, and I was there all me life until three months ago. When I was too old for the training they gave to the little children, they sent me to the closest ward school as long as the law would let them; but I was never like any of the other children, and they all knew it. I'd to go and come like a prisoner, and be working around the Home early and late for me board and clothes. I always wanted to learn mighty bad, but I was glad when that was over.
"Every few days, all me life, I'd to be called up, looked over, and refused a home and love, on account of me hand and ugly face; but it was all the home I'd ever known, and I didn't seem to belong to any place else.
"Then a new superintendent was put in. He wasn't for being like any of the others, and he swore he'd weed me out the first thing he did. He made a plan to send me down the State to a man he said he knew who needed a boy. He wasn't for remembering to tell that man that I was a hand short, and he knocked me down the minute he found I was the boy who had been sent him. Between noon and that evening, he and his son close my age had me in pretty much the same shape in which I was found in the beginning, so I lay awake that night and ran away. I'd like to have squared me account with that boy before I left, but I didn't dare for fear of waking the old man, and I knew I couldn't handle the two of them; but I'm hoping to meet him alone some day before I die."
McLean tugged at his moustache to hide the smile on his lips, but he liked the boy all the better for this confession.
"I didn't even have to steal clothes to get rid of starting in me Home ones," Freckles continued, "for they had already taken all me clean, neat things for the boy and put me into his rags, and that went almost as sore as the beatings, for where I was we were always kept tidy and sweet-smelling, anyway. I hustled clear into this State before I learned that man couldn't have kept me if he'd wanted to. When I thought I was good and away from him, I commenced hunting work, but it is with everybody else just as it is with you, sir. Big, strong, whole men are the only ones for being wanted."
"I have been studying over this matter," answered McLean. "I am not so sure but that a man no older than you and similar in every way could do this work very well, if he were not a coward, and had it in him to be trustworthy and industrious."
Freckles came forward a step.
"If you will give me a job where I can earn me food, clothes, and a place to sleep," he said, "if I can have a Boss to work for like other men, and a place I feel I've a right to, I will do precisely what you tell me or die trying."
He spoke so convincingly that McLean believed, although in his heart he knew that to employ a stranger would be wretched business for a man with the interests he had involved.
"Very well," the Boss found himself answering, "I will enter you on my pay-rolls. We'll have supper, and then I will provide you with clean clothing, wading-boots, the wire-mending apparatus, and a revolver. The first thing in the morning, I will take you the length of the trail myself and explain fully what I want done. All I ask of you is to come to me at once at the south camp and tell me as a man if you find this job too hard for you. It will not surprise me. It is work that few men would perform faithfully. What name shall I put down?"
Excerpted from Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter. Copyright © 2017 Gene Stratton-Porter. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. Wherein Great Risks Are Taken and the Limberlost Guard is Hired, 1,
2. Wherein Freckles Proves His Mettle and Finds Friends, 13,
3. Wherein a Feather Falls and a Soul Is Born, 26,
4. Wherein Freckles Faces Troubles Bravely and Opens the Way for New Experiences, 45,
5. Wherein an Angel Materializes and a Man Worships, 77,
6. Wherein a Fight Occurs and Women Shoot Straight, 93,
7. Wherein Freckles Wins Honour and Finds a Footprint on the Trail, 107,
8. Wherein Freckles Meets a Man of Affairs and Loses Nothing by the Encounter, 115,
9. Wherein the Limberlost Falls upon Mrs. Duncan and Freckles Comes to the Rescue, 131,
10. Wherein Freckles Strives Mightily and the Angel Rewards Him, 137,
11. Wherein the Butterflies Go on a Spree and Freckles Informs the Bird Woman, 146,
12. Wherein Black Jack Captures Freckles and the Angel Captures Jack, 157,
13. Wherein the Angel Releases Freckles, and the Curse of Black Jack Falls Upon Her, 176,
14. Wherein Freckles Nurses a Heart-ache and Black Jack Drops Out, 191,
15. Wherein Freckles and the Angel Try Taking a Picture, and Little Chicken Furnishes the Subject, 206,
16. Wherein the Angel Locates a Rare Tree and Dines with the Gang, 216,
17. Wherein Freckles Offers His Life for His Love and Gets a Broken Body, 228,
18. Wherein Freckles Refuses Love Without Knowledge of Honourable Birth, and the Angel Goes in Quest of It, 244,
19. Wherein Freckles Finds His Birthright and the Angel Loses Her Heart, 264,
20. Wherein Freckles Returns to the Limberlost, and Lord O'More Sails for Ireland Without Him, 278,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Freckles was given to me at least 55 years ago by my grandmother, or aunt, I can't remember now. However, I just picked it up in the past few weeks and decided to read it, from my own library. What a wonderful time I had, discovering what I wish I had known 55 years ago!!! It is the most marvelous book I've read. I laughed and cried and celebrated with the characters in the book and realized how much can be learned by reading a seemingly small novel. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
The descriptions of the swamp and life around the swamp (plants, birds, animals) was really enjoyable to read. I also really admired Angel and the way she treated Freckles. A touching story that is a definite must read!
I read this book while looking for something to teach high school freshmen. The social issues and the warm characters make this novel appropriate for teens and up.
I was first introduced to this author through Girl of the Limberlost. Many references were made to Freckles and I didn't know of him or his history. That was a fantastic book, so I ordered this and fell equally in love. The story has enough drama and emotion and humor to keep me thoroughly enchanted and the author transports me to another time and place through her language.
Wow, my 96 year old grandfather said that this was his all time favorite book. It embodied a lot of what he taught me about growing up, morals and how to treat a job and a woman. Definatly a interesting read of an era that was long before my time. No space aliens, body invaders or vampires, no blood lust or carnage. A feel good book, that tries to set moral examples, and leaves you knowing the boy who lives right, will end up with the right girl. Written so your average 8th grader may be bored but will certianly get the message. i will keep it in my library and am looking for an original copy.
'Freckles' is a very touching story. It was interesting and thought provoking. The descriptions and explanations were beautifully done. The style of writing was reminicent of past times. A delightful read for everyone!
This is a wholesome story that takes you back to a different time where integrity and hard, honest work are valued. A great book by a wonderful author!
Does he learn about his mom & dad?
Unlike some of you i wasn't introduced to this book by my grandfather or aunt, i read it for a book club and fell in love! I love all the detail and how its clean and very enjoyable, unlike most books nowadays. My favorate part would have to be that in all this book and the next book they never say the angles name.
It was really good, but I have to admit I got a little bit tired of Freckles by the end. Still....
Smarmy, but sort of sweet. Wouldn't read it unless one was without a book completely.
To see one little corner of the country undisturbed, look in the pages of Freckles. Gene Stratton-Porter has so vividly captured the Limberlost swamp area of Indiana, that you feel as though you've been there. Into that location, she sets Freckles, a 19 year old orphan, with one hand, but strong heart and initiative, who would do anything for the boss-man who shows him kindness and gives him a job. Freckles' adventures made for some happy reading, starting with his fear of the creatures on the land he must guard against timber thieves, his ¿chickens¿, yearning for knowledge, and friendship with the Bird-Lady and the Swamp-Angel. A nice old-fashioned story. I enjoyed it.
Themes: belonging, nature, overcoming challenges, love, familySetting: the Limberlost swamp in Indiana, 19th centuryI loved this quiet little classic. Freckles was raised in an orphanage. He has only one hand, no friends, no family, and no prospects for a job. He doesn't even have a name, just Freckles. But he arrives at Mclean's lumber camp and is willing to do anything at all, if he is given a chance. Mclean feels sorry for the boy and decides to take him on, giving him the name of his own father, and makes him the guard of the camp. His job is to walk along the trail through the swamp, seven miles or so, and make sure that the lumber is safe from thieves.Freckles may not look like much, but once his is shown some kindness, he repays it with his complete loyalty and hard work. He learns to love the swamp and the creatures that live there. He gets to know all the birds and plants and trees there and makes friends with them. He falls in love and faces a gang of thieves. And it all has a happy ending.It sounds like it would be unbearably sweet and sappy, but it's not. I really enjoyed this book. I'm counting it for my 50 states challenge. I had no idea there was a swamp in Indiana, and now I'll have to read more about it. 4 stars.
An old story - old even when I first read it decades ago - about a crippled red-headed boy who finds where he belongs in the world, as he makes friends in a lumber camp, and learns to love the creatures of the swamp - the Limberlost.
Oh, Victorian morality stories about the nobility of suffering, and the redemptive power of hard work, how I love you. Gene Stratton Porter (and not Jean as they have above, good grief) wrote a lot of books in this vein -- the healing power of the natural world and the nobility of suffering, and the purity and rewards from mixing the two. Rewards such as marriage, of course, or a good death, or other similarly unmodern offerings, but she's *is* product of a particular time and set of attitudes that tried to make bearable a difficult world. She fits in with authors like Susan Coolidge, L.M. Montgomery, L. M. Alcott, who I also like, who don't quite manage the complete Dr. Pangloss depiction of the world, and reality and their own humanity creeps in to gentle what might otherwise be a harsh Christian sententiousness. Violet Needham does something similar, but less overtly Christian, and I suspect that is a function of the differences between UK and US attitudes to public avowals of religion. Which isn't really a review of the book, which is a rather enjoyable amble through the tribulations of one-handed, red-headed orphan, Freckles, whose courage and intrinsic goodness make him beloved by all. Which sounds awful, and somehow, it's not.
This is the first of Stratton-Porters Limberlost book. This is a prequel to both Girl of the Limberlost and Song of the Cardinal (this one has not been re-printed you can find it at the Gutenberg Project). These books are excellent both as stories and in their descriptins of the wetlands biome. Freckles is also an inspiring tale of a young man who does not believe that his lack of an arm disables him in any way.
Recommended by a friend. Was an interesting read and something very different from my normal go-tos
I first read this book when I was in the 7th grade. I'm now 58. I came across it by accident in the school library. I fell in love with the book and never forgot it. I was delighted to find it again, available to read on my nook, and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. The story is charming, and moving, and the hero, Freckles, will win you over and touch your heart. The author really takes you to the beautiful and awesome Limberlost, where most of the story takes place. The other characters are very fine, except for the villains who are well-drawn, thus appropriately frightening. I recommend Freckles to readers young and old.
This 371 page free book was published in 1904. I enjoyed this book very much. It did seem very dated. It is a very sweet, clean book, without any adult themes. Not even a single curse word. There is some rather minor violence, a rattlesnake bite and a logging accident. This book did have some pathos and at times was emotional. The formatting of this book did not transfer correctly into e- book form. This really messed up the spelling, punctutation and everything else which could be messed up. Which is a shame. The book was still readable and enjoyable. At the time this book was published, books were properly edited. I found it astounding that the author of this book has written and had published over 500 books and stories. Type writters were new inventions and very expensive. There is a good chance, all his work was hand written, checked, rechecked and written over and over again.much more labor intensive with pen and paper, then today's computers. This book could be read by thirteen year olds. It is a work of fiction, with a dab of mystery, an iota of romance and lots of morality ( not preaching or religion) and the value of love and friendship. There is a sequal, "GIRL OF YHE LIMBERLOST" and possibly a third, The title was simulair, but there was no overview provided. If you love classic movies, you will enjoy this book. AD
I was given this book as a tween and fell in love with the Limberlost Swamp. To this day, some 40 years later it still captures my every breath from beginning until the last word. A perfect book for a young "bookworm".
Love the story, the characters and the writing style. BUT, whoever transcribed this into an ebook should be shot, then fired asap! Worst job ever. Made the whole book extremely hard to read. There is no way I would have read this if I hadn't loved the story so much.
It was a good book, but too many typos. Was very hard for me to read. But it was interesting
There are no typos what-so-ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hard to read because of typos