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spoil his hands, puttering around in the earth

      “Why doesn’t he go away and really do something?”
      “Well . . . for one thing, there’s his mother.”
      “True.” The gray eyes softened. “But I wonder what she’ll say to this arrangement?”
      “I guess she’s said it,” he replied, with a subdued twinkle. “He told me she was afraid he’d spoil his hands puttering around in the earth. A gentleman always has clean hands.”
      Judith laughed. “She’ll probably insist upon his wearing gloves...”

ex Margaret Cameron, Johndover (1924)
U California copy/scan (via google books) : link
same (via hathitrust) : link

Appeared, in different and abbreviated form (and minus the passage with “puttering”), in Woman’s Home Companion, in three parts :
1 : (February 1924) : 7-11, 97-98, 101-102 : link
2 : (March 1924) : 23-28, 110-112. 114. 116. 119, 120, 122, 124, 126 : link
3 : (April 1924) : 29-31, 96, 99, 100-101, 104, 106 : link


  1. I have not closely compared the serialization to the book. One significant difference is that the serialization starts with what would be chapter 3 in the novel — the dramatic (and romantic) present. Judith Kent, widow, age “about twenty four” stands in a doorway, in a hotel in Santa Barbara, California. The novel’s first two chapters are set decades earlier, providing some background to Ned Proctor’s life, and Johndover’s, and Frederick Barclay’s fateful appearance at that same hotel.
  2. some parallelism in the story, involving hands and earth and stones (and rejected impulse, p 19).
  3. “Why on earth didn’t you telegraph?” Judith asked.

    The answer is an interesting one, at p 496

  4. Margaret Cameron (1867-1947) spent formative years in Santa Barbara.
    wikipedia : link

    note to self —

  5. Cameron’s The seven purposes : An experience in psychic phenomena (1918) was discussed by Marguerite Mooers Marshall (*) in The Evening World (July 9, 1919)
    mentioned at wikipedia, accessible via New York State Historic Newspapers : link

11 April 2024