A Review: Part V The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doortstep by Edgar Rice Burroughs

October 21, 2008

 

The High Brow And The Low Brow

The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep

Part V

Marcia Explicated

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     The contrast between The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep can be seen as a response to two different challenges united by Burroughs’ personal psychological development.

     He took the whole of 1924 to write this story so it may have been a real struggle.  Unlike his other novels he doesn’t record a beginning and ending date in Porges so we have no accurate idea of how long it took him.  It is possible that he had taken so much time, felt the need for money so intensely, that he rushed the ending through to try to sell the story.  One the other hand he usually scamps his endings.

     An indication that Emma may have been an influence in the planning and organization of the story is that it concerns matters that were very familiar to her.  Just as she was a voice student as a girl, so Marcia.  As Emma had to give up the studies so does Marcia.

     The milieu of the stage would have been more familiar to Emma, although having gotten involved with the movies ERB might also have familiarized himself with the stage somewhat.  I would have to opt for more involvement from Emma though.  (For further thoughts on this read Part VI)

     Unlike the other novels which feel as though they were written from the top of the head, Marcia has indications of more careful plotting.  If that is true I don’t think ERB would have been capable of it so that would argue for more involvement by Emma once again.  This is also a fairly complex plot that differs from ERB’s usual style.

     Unless I’m mistaken the novel, even though unpublished, landed him in hot water with the AJC and ADL.  I’m sure the reason would have been a mystery to ERB.  If you’ve read Part II, Section II what I have to say will be clear, if you haven’t read the Parts I recommend it.

     According to the Religious Consciousness there is no freedom of speech concerning the specific religion.  The Religion will control who is speaking, what is said and how expression is to be allowed.  ERB was not a member of the Jewish religion and as he was speaking unacceptably he was perforce an anti-Semite as the religion he was discussing was Judaism.  Had he been discussing Liberalism he would have been pathologized as a crazy bigot.  As Judaism was part of the diversity composing the Coaliton, Liberals would have considered him a bigot anyway.  Bigot is the Liberal equivalent of anti-Semite.

     The character in question is the shyster Jewish lawyer, Max Heimer.  Max is an expecially well drawn character from the viewpoint of the Scientific Consciousness, which is to say, Max is accurately drawn.  Whether from life or not is not yet known.

     Max is the protagonist of the story.  That anything happens at all is because of him.  He is not an admirable character but on the other hand he is neither truly malicious or evil.  The only thing that matters to Max, and would especially offend  the sensibilities of the AJC and ADL, is the bucks.  Max would probably stoop to outright thieving but he is a blackmailer, a swindler and a cheat.  While what he does is criminal it is done in such a way as to escape detection.  Even if you know he’s guilty the chances are you could never get a conviction.

     But, he’s not really a bad guy at heart and by his lights he’s darn near a philathropist.

     Max is always on the qui vive.  One has the impression that he never lets an opportunity pass.  Thus, one night he came across a drunken gentleman on the street, John Hancock Chase II.  Chase II for some reason was totally incapacitated.  Heimer took him home sensing an opportunity.

     Max had been living with a woman, out of wedlock, named Mame Myerz.  Although Mame wasn’t at home Max conceived the notion to tell the married Chase II that he had had sexual relations with Mame which he did nine months later when he showed up to tell Chase II he was a proud papa.  Max would keep this a secret for a fee.  Unable to sustain the blackmail Chase II shoots himself ruining a perfectly good source of income for Max.  This is no skin off Max’s nose as he blithely goes about his and other people’s business for the next sixteen years.

     That fine old gentleman, John Hancock Chase I bears the loss of his son stoically.

     As it happened Della Maxwell bore her child and left it on the Sackett’s doorstep on 4/10/06.

     If Max is finely drawn, no less can be said about Marcus Aurelius Sackett and his wife Clara, the long suffering wife of the air headed Mark, who is especially finely depicted.  Just a few deft strokes but she is always in the background worrying over her man.  Either I’m projecting from knowledge or ERB is able to portray a large loving woman who accepts the foibles of her husband, tolerating him and perhaps even loving him for them.

     Both she and Mark are overjoyed at the child left on their step.  They are no less overjoyed when Della shows up next day to move in with them.  Della Maxwell is a well chosen name.  Max-bad, Max-well.

     Mark Sackett is ably portrayed as an actor of the old school who while he fumes at the modern trash of the stage is nevertheless the kind of trooper who doesn’t leave his fellows in the lurch.  At this time in New York City he is working for Abe Finkel.  Abe is obviously another Jew modeled on the producers Klaw and Erlanger.  This is at the time of the development of movies from 1905 to 1914 or so.

     In 1919 ERB moved to Hollywood where he would have been privy to all the stories of the origins of the studio owners who with few exception were Jewish.  Most were from New York while Carl Laemmle was from Chicago via Wisconsin.  They all had risen from mundane occupations to real wealth.  Samuel Goldwyn had been a glove salesman.  Harry Cohn had been a street car conductor, Louis Mayer had had a string of jobs worthy of ERB himself so it will be historically accurate for both Max and Abe to turn up in Hollywood as studio owners.

     ERB was very good at weaving real life stories into his writing.  There are probably real life models for many of these characters and their stories may be based on true stories as they say in Hollywood.  For instance, Marcia’s first boyfriend Dick Steele goes to Hollywood as a stunt pilot where he meets his death, some mgiht say committed suicide, in a spectacular airplane stunt.  As it turns out ERB didn’t make this story up from scratch but merely, fictionalized an actual event that occurred on a movie lot in 1920.  William K. Klingaman tells the story ERB used in his popular history ‘1919’ of 1987.

     Lieutenant Ormer Locklear moved to Hollywood in February 1920, where he originated many of the airplane stunts used in the movies.  (He was the first aviator charged with reckless driving in the air, when he looped the loop over a public park in Los Angeles in April.)  In the summer of 1920 he was working on a film called, “The Skywayman”; the last stunt was supposed to be a shot of a pilot plunging to his death with the plane in flames.  Just before he ascended to film the sequence on the evening of August 3, Locklear turned to friends and said: ‘I have a hunch that I should not fly tonight.’  Spectators on the ground watched and marveled at the stuntman’s skill.  Then they suddenly saw the plane only two hundred feet from the ground, struggling to right itself.  It crashed in flames.  Locklear died instantly, the farewell letter to his mother that he always carried with when he flew was found undamaged.

     As ERB had no experience with the theatre and as his stage stuff seems fairly authentic and knowledgeable he may have borrowed stories like the Locklear tale and adapted them for his uses or else Emma had a fund of stories which she supplied for the novel.  At an rate these first 125 pages are full of charming detail about the theatre.

     Now safe in LA ERB even takes a loving poke at hometown Chicago.  Della Maxwell explaining her breaking of an engagement in Chicago says on p. 30:

“I couldn’t stand (Chicago) any longer, Uncle Mark…It’s a hick town, filled with coal dust, wind and tank town talent.  And slow, say, if I’d smoked a cigarette on the street I’d a been pinched for sure.”

     Max Heimer keeps the story moving along when he visits the Sackett household as the legal representative of some unpaid actors.  While there he notices the sixteen year old Marcia.  Learning that she is sixteen his mind clicks back to 1906 when his and Mame’s plan fizzled when Chase II committed suicide.  Ever on the qui vive he learns that Marcia was left on the Sackett’s doorstep on 4/10/06 which conincidence he can put to use.

     Ever shameless and brazen, they call it chutzpah, he contacts Chase I to advise him that he has found Chase II’s illegitimate daughter.  He’s picked the wrong man because the Senator, that fine old example of early American manhood, refuses to have anything to do with him however he has his Jew, that fine old examplar of the race, Judge Isaac ‘Ike’ Berlanger contact Heimer for him.  If his son’s daughter is out there the fine old gentleman feels obligated to take care of her.

     Probably already in deep for selecting a chosen person for a villain ERB begins here to really compound his error in the confrontation between ‘Ike’ Berlanger and the wily Max Heimer.  Woodrow Wilson during his first administration appointed the first Jew to be a justice of the Supreme Court.  This was Louis D. Brandeis of Louisville, Kentucky.  Just as the Liberal Coalition propaganda machine remorselessly pilloried its victims so it equally exalted its favorites.  Brandeis has been depected as a wise old saint for so long no one questions it.  FDR in his administration referred to Brandeis as our ‘Isaiah’ whatever that might mean.

     ERB doesn’t usually go far to find his models so I’m suggesting that Louis D. Brandeis was the model for Judge Berlanger.  Alright.  ERB probably thinks he’s going to get away with portraying ‘a Jew of the type; of Heimer by presenting a ‘fair and balanced’ picture of a ‘Jew of the type’ of Brandeis/Berlanger.  Doesn’t work that way as Charles Dickens, who was accused of being an anti-Semite, found to his dismay when he balanced a Jew of probity against the villainous Jew, Fagin, of Oliver Twist.

     One should always bear in mind that the very worst of a Chosen People is better than the best of the rest.  Thus all heroes must be from the Chosen while the villains must be from the rest.  So it is that all the villains currently have Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic names while all the heroes are of the Liberal Coalition.

     Thus ERB was very ill advised to meddle in these proto-Politically Correct matters.  Even though the entertainment industry of the twenties had been thoroughly Judaized he should have made Heimer an Anglo-Teuton while he was on track by making Berlanger an element of the Coalition.

     The exchange between Berlanger and Heimer very likely sealed ERB’s fate for the next several years while he confessed his error in his portrait of the wise old Jew in The Moon Maid in attempt to do his penance.  I can’t recall any more references to Jews in the corpus after this period.  If you know of any, let me know.

     The result of the conference between the two Chosen ones is that Senator Chase I is to settle twenty thousand on the Sacketts while providing Marcia with an income of a thousand a month.

     Here ERB goes into some interesting ruminations on the effect of coming into money when you’ve never had any.  Probably by 1924 he was wishing he had his finances to do over although he does say of Mark Sackett that he would never learn the value of money.

     The intention of Heimer was to receive the twenty thousand from Chase, keep fifteen for himself and give five to the Sacketts.  Berlanger is ahead of him giving the twenty directly to the Sacketts.  Don’t rule out Max yet though; he’s one canny Scot.

     Watching Mark come into money provides some amusing moments and an insight of how it had been with ERB.  Mark goes out and buys a car which allows ERB to work in his accident with the taxi in Chicago.  Charming passage though.

     The old ham Sackett decides to use the money to bring back the glories of the stage; he wants to organize a touring Shakespearean company.  There is some really nice wordplay as he attempts to inform Max of his plans.  Max on the gui vive.  He had not been denied that twenty thousand he had only been forestalled.  He appoints himself the tour’s business manager so not only will he embezzle the tour’s profits but the original capital.  But I get ahead of myself.

      Bear in mind that all along Della Maxwell is aware of what a shyster Max is as she knows for a fact that Chase II wasn’t close to being the father of Marcia and she is also absolutely certain that Mame Myerz isn’t the mother.  She keeps trying to warn Mark of what a shyster Max is without giving herself away to Mark.

     As far as Max and the Sacketts go in the first 125 pages of the book, that covers it.  The first third is of very nice quality, notwithstanding the ‘Politically Incorrect’ aspects.  If ERB could have sustained this level of concentration throughout the book he would have had a truly excellent story.

     Marcia is the other story line which has to be followed.  When this precocious girl comes into her money, and twelve thousand dollars a year was nothing to sneeze at in 1922, her life changes also.  Prior to the advent of her wealth she had been virtually betrothed to young Dick Steele.  Marcia is troublesome as a character becasue ERB portrays her with such incredible maturity for a young girl.  She’s barely legal, completely inexperienced but handles herself so well.

     Dick with quick prescience realizes that this is the end of the line for his hopes but he’s going to hang on as best he can.  He immediately quits school and gets a job in an airplane plant to make lots of money fast because he knows he’s going to need it.  This employment leads to his job as a stunt pilot.

     Marcia had been taking voice lessons for some time where she had met a wealthy young socialite named Patsy Kellar.  When Patsy learns that Marcia is worth twelve thousand a year she invites her to join her circle.  Marcia snaps into place like a memory stick in a digital camera.  Personally I think ERB is pushing his luck here.  The only thing that makes Marcia’s ability to fit in plausible is that she comes from a family of actors who may have aped the manners of the well-to-do.  Indeed, ERB has speeches coming out of Sackett’s mouth that prove his ability to use the King’s English just in case anyone thought ERB was an illiterate, fantasy writer.  ERB shows ’em how to in this one.

     The Ashtons to whose circle Patsy belongs are about to take a cruise into the South Seas in their yacht, the Lady X.  They think this sixteen year old flower of youth would be a delightful addition to their party.  Which, in fact, she turns out to be.

     Patsy takes her on a buying trip for clothes during which Marcia finds out how little a thousand dollars is.  This also allows ERB to build some female interest a la Zane Grey to appeal to the lady readers of the Saturday Evening Post.  So, the crew splits for Hawaii via San Francisco.

     Now, when Chase II chose to exit rather than face the music he had a little son, Chase III.  J.H. Chase III is now a twenty some odd Lieutenant in the US Navy and is stationed in- ready?  Hawaii.  Does he know Patsy Kellar and the Ashtons?  Darn right.  Old buddies.  Welcome aboard.  Chase III could have used his leave to go back to NYC to visit Grandpa but he opts for those soft South Sea breezes instead.  Who can fault him except Grandpa and Grandpa doesn’t.  Alright.  So now he’s on board the Lady X with Marcia.  All sixteen lovely years of her.  Now begins the action of the middle part of the book.

     ERB begins to fall back into his old ways although he has two stories to keep going.  In the story of the Sacketts everyone considers Mark’s dream of bringing quality theatre to the heartland of America the height of foolishness but, I’ll be darned, the Heartland flocks to Mark’s performances to lap up the Bard.  A little touch of culture really finishes off the man, you know.  The tour is a huge success playing to SRO houses everywhere.  The fly in the ointment is Max.  The guy just can’t keep his hands off the money.  He embezzles everything except for pocket cash of 300.00 for the Sacketts.

     Stranded in San Francisco again, Max got the loot while the Sacketts got the hotel bill.  The question is where did ERB get the story?

     I had the haunting feeling the story was familiar.  ERB didn’t have any theatre experience, nor did Emma, so he must have gotten the story, or combination of stories, really, from somewhere.

     By 1924 he had been in LA for four years so he’d plenty of time to pick up theatre lore.  The story of the tour sounds very close to the tour that brought Charlie Chaplin West.  Chaplin wasn’t doing Shakespeare on that tour, that tour may have been another one ERB heard of.  As I recall the Chaplin tour went bust in Salt Lake City also with Chaplin hoofing it to Hollywood.

     In Salt Lake Max tells Mark that the jig is up, the show has gone bust, financially that is.  Mark is incredulous as he has been playing to sold out houses but Max tells him there is no money and that is a fact difficult to argue about.  Mark accepts the fact and, indeed, even if he knew Max had embezzled the money whatever records Max kept he said he had sent back to New York while as Mark was broke he couldn’t afford to sue anyway.

     Now, let’s look to see if we can relate this to ERB’s life.  ERB had had his best year ever after the move to LA in 1921 in which he earned approximately  one hundred thousand dollars which might equate to the twenty thousand Mark received.  While Mark lost his money in this improbable Shakespeare tour, or rather it was embezzled, ERB lost his on his pig farm.  Who knows what was going on there? ERB had his income from 1919, 1921 and 1922 which must have amounted to from 200,000 to 250,000.  Multiply that by fifty or so for inflation and that is a tremedous expenditure.  It seems improbable that anyone could spend that much on a pig farm.  Perhaps ERB thought someone had embezzled from him.  Probably could use some investigation if for no other reason than to clear it up.

     OK.  Why Salt Lake City?  If ERB is following Chaplin’s story then Salt Lake City would logically follow.  However Salt Lake is one of ERB’s critical geographical locations.  His interest in the Mormons hasn’t been properly examined although Dale Broadhurst made a stab in that direction.  ERB made a special visit to Salt Lake in 1898 just after he purchased his stationery store.  That was his first visit.  Then in 1904 he and Emma resided there for several months during a very crucial period in his life, even a terrifying, desperate, excoriating one.

     One that had him at his wit’s end shaking in his boots.  While it is difficult to accurately pinpoint when his attitude toward Emma turned sour the several months in Salt Lake as a railroad shack may have been it.

     Thus the tour breaking up in Salt Lake City may represent the beginning of the breaking up his marriage in 1904.  The city certainly held a lot of memories for him.

     Mark and Clara are left high and dry in SF.  While Clara is out Mark turns on the gas and sticks his head in the oven.  I’ve read that exact story before too but I can’t remember where.  Or, perhaps, it is standard theatre fare.

     From the Land of Fogs Mark and Clara wend their way down the coast to the Land of Smogs, the mecca of all actors.  Mark is still too proud to work in the movies…but, we’ll leave the Sacketts in Hollywood while we follow out the story line of Marcia.  This one is pure Burroughs.

     While ERB has written Emma and himself into the story as Mark and Clara Sackett, Chase III and Marcia also represent his Anima and Animus.  This central section is essentially a retelling of The Mucker ten years after.  ERB no longer feels like the low brow scuzzy Billy Byrne, who was nevertheless ‘all man’, but is attempting the high brow Chase III.  ERB has changed back from the Pauper to the Prince.  His Anima presents a different problem.  He didn’t feel up to Barbara Harding so he married her off to Byrne in Out There Somewhere.  In Bridge And The Kid   he scaled down from a New York socialite to the daughter of a big man in a small town.  Gail Prim was apparently too much for the beat up hommy he was so now he scales down even further to a girl who is an orphan left on a doorstep to be brought up by strangers.  Thus the role of Harding and Byrne are reversed.  The Animus, Chase III, now has social standing while the Anima, Marcia does not.  However everybody loves her and she is acceptable wherever she goes.  There is some competition for her between the foppish socialite Banks Von Spiddle, the humorous name is a giveaway, and the military officer Chase III while the latter wins as might be expected given ERB’s prejudices.  This very likely reflects the competition between ERB and Frank Martin that ERB won and is a recurring theme in his writing from his unpublished first story, Minidoka, and this one.

     Just as there was a shipwreck in The Mucker so there is one here.  Here ERB produces a new variation in that there are two life boats in one of which the best people were to go while in the other the muckers.  In the turmoil of the storm and sinking Chase III and Marcia are separated from the first boat ending up with the muckers including the terrible Bledgo who obviously represents John the Bully as the storm represents the encounter on the street corner.

     After the usual interval of several days adrift on the sea the crew spots the inevitable desert island.  Going ashore the better people separate themselves from the worst of the muckers forming two parties which sends Bledgo searching for Chase III and Marcia.  As the Animus represents the spermatic side of the body while the Anima represents the ovate Bledgo is really searching for the two aspects of Burroughs’ personality- the one he wishes to kill and the other to rape.

     As the rest of Chase’s party realize that Bledgo only wants Chase III and Marcia they urge the pair to flee which they do.  Bledgo doesn’t give up the search but pursues the pair up the mountain.  There is a fight during which Chase III brings the butt of his revolver down on the forehead of Bledgo, reminiscent of ERB’s bashing in Toronto.  The pair then continue their flight up the mountain.

     In this sequence Burroughs takes vengeance on John the Bully by defending himself and his Anima as he felt he should have on the streetcorner while retaliating the horrific blow to the head he received in Toronto on his ancient enemy.

     Thus as Chase III and Marcia continue up the mountain in a torrential downpour ERB’s Anima and Animus are reunited.  He is a whole person again.

     Reaching the top of the ridge they discover the best people singing, playing on the beach on the sunny side of the mountain.  Thus ERB rejoins the people he was supposed to be among but was separated from by his encounter with John.  How well this squares with real life is uncertain.  It may just be wishful thinking especially as ERB is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

     Incest and cannibalism are two recurring themes in ERB.  The latter was a concern on the boat, the former now rears its ugly head.  Chase III and Marcia reach the Philippines where they are to be married the next day however Marcia opens the mail waiting for her which includes a letter from Judge Berlanger.  The letter advises her that Jack Chase is her half brother.  Horrified and chagrined Marcia steals away in the night to take ship for San Francisco.  SF and disaster again.  It always happens that way for ERB in Baghdad By The Bay.  Wonder why.

      Aboard ship an entertainment is organized for which Marcia agrees to sing and act in a skit.  She’s emaciated but that can’t mask her loveliness.  Also aboard is a famous Hollywood producter.  Needless to say Marcia is ‘discovered.’  A movie contract awaits her in Hollywood.

     As I pointed out earlier there was a hiatus in the production of movies from Burroughs’ books from about the time he wrote Girl From Hollywood  until 1927.  Part was probably due to ERB’s writing on Jews in this novel but part was also due to his very negative portrayal of Hollywood in ‘Girl’.  Thus just as he portrays a venerable Jew in The Moon Maid  to atone for his portrayal of Heimer et al., here in this novel he lauds Hollywood as the home of the most wonderful people in the world.  He reverses his portrayal of the director Wilson Crumb in the character of the kindly upright director Otto Appel, who also sounds Jewish.

     ERB has now told two thirds of his story and is at page 295 of 351.  He’s got a lot of story to go that he crams into the remaining fifty of so pages.  Honestly, he needs at least two hundred to flesh out his story properly.  Perhaps he had been at work on the story for most of 1924 during which he had generated no new income and wished to get the story off to the Saturday Evening P{ost for that fifty thousand dollar paycheck plus book rights.  The amazing thing is that ERB doesn’t seem to have received advances from his publishers at any time.  Also at this time things were getting strained between McClurg’s and himself.  It won’t be too long before he breaks with them.  We need more information on this aspect of his career.

     So, Jack and Marcia are separated again while Jack has no idea where she may be.  In the interval between their leaving and returning the world as they knew it had broken apart.  No one was where they had been except Grandpa.  Chase III runs into Pilkins, one of the sailors in SF.  Pilkins had taken the same ship back with Marcia so he advises Chase III that she has gone to LA to be in the movies where Chase III follows.

     I can’t think of a positive reference to SF in ERB’s writing.  Either he just didn’t like the city or something happened there.  If so, it would be good to know what.

     At this time we have a whole crew in LA:  The Sacketts, Marcia, Dick Steele, Banks Von Spiddle, Chase III, Max Heimer and Abe Finkel with Ike Berlanger to follow.  This may be the alternative version of how the West was won.

     I wish ERB had put more effort into this ending.  Fleshed out this would be a pretty good story of the exodus of the entertainment industry from New York to Hollywood.  This would be good first hand history of Hollywood at least, of which ERB was actually a fairly significant figure.  I get kind of excited trying to piece together how it may have been.

     ERB at one time had been allowed on the lots so we may assume that his production scenes were authentic as well as his depiction of Poverty Row.  the latter was real where the more impoverished companies had their quarters.  Mack Sennet had his quarters on Poverty Row.  Sennet’s autobiography is well worth reading.  Poverty Row is where F&H Studios set up business.  Yes, after embezzling that thirty thousand dollars from Mark Sackett Max Heimer ran into his old acquaintance Abe Finkel.  The two combined to form F&H.  They are the one’s who give Dick Steele his start as a stunt pilot.

     Max is about town where he runs into Mark Sackett frequently.  Max is not a bad guy, in the same circumstances many another who had injured a man would hate him contriving to injure him further.  Not Max.  Once he’s got the money he’s a congenial fellow.  He presses small loans on Mark who after all is only receiving his own again.  Max, who undoubtedly has developed some pull, gives Mark leads to jobs that if Mark had taken them would probably have led to decent prosperity if not more.  As Mark is too proud to accept movie roles he doesn’t follow up but Max does his best by him.

     As I pointed out in Part III,  Sam Goldwyn had revived the Potash and Permutter stories of Montague Glass filming the Broadway play in 1923 which was a great success.  In 1924 he filmed In Hollywood With Potash and Perlmutter that was an equal success while probably charming ERB so much that he based the F&H Studios of Finkel and Heimer on the movie.

     Here ERB compounded his error of the first part of the book by making the two Jews humorous and despicable.  The inference is that because of their cheapness they were responsible for Dick Steele’s death.

     Remember Mame Myerz?  No sooner does Max make a few dollars than he takes up with a gorgeous starlet.  Mame gets wind of this back in the Big Apple where she goes berserk.  She immediately tramps into Judge Berlanger’s office attempting to sell him the true story of Marcia.  The old Judge doesn’t give in that easy so Mame spills the beans that she isn’t Marcia’s mother and she wasn’t anywhere near Chase II.

     Thus the way is cleared for Marcia and Chase III to marry; no danger of incest.  Max hears of this putting the screws to Mame to retract her statement which she does.  Now there’s enough doubt in Marcia’s mind that the marriage is off once again.

     In Max’s last scene, I kinda hated to see the little guy go, Judge Berlanger, also now in LA confronts Max with the theft of Mark’s money.  Chutzpah deserts the wily little attorney.  Unable to brave it out with Berlanger Max accepts defeat turning his assets over to Mark.  He was forbidden LA and New York in which places he hasn’t been seen to this day.  By stories end I kind of liked Max Heimer although it would be best to go the other way if you saw him coming.

     Marcia was lost track of after the Philippines.  She has lost track of everyone else.  She becomes a star but as she had taken another name no one knows where she is.  They don’t go to her movies, apparently.  Mark and Clara’s fortunes continue to decline becasue of his bullheadedness until finally their landlady turns them out into the street.  This was probably how ERB and Emma felt when they had to leave Tarzana after only four years.

     ERB’s situation must have created a lot of gossip.  After all a famous author comes to town buys a huge estate, c;mon 540 acres? and within two years is in financial difficulties and after four a virtual bankrupt forced from the estate.  Tongues must have wagged.  I’d sure like to know what they were saying.  Just exactly how ERB’s Hollywood contemporaries thought of him.

     In the meantime, completely destitute, Mark accepts movie work.  He is sitting on a lounge on the set when the star, Marian Sands, walks on the set.  She sees Mark who recognizes her as Marcia and the family is reunited again.

     Chase III arrives in LA in search of Marcia.  He apparently never goes to the movies so he doesn’t make a connection between Marian Sands and Marcia Sackett.  He enters a career of dissipation turning to drink and gambling.  Too proud to contact granddad he runs through his money. 

     He has some amusing encounters with oilmen which probably reflect ERB’s own as he floundered around trying to find ways to make money fast.  There’s a lot to be done here in researching ERB’s business doings in LA.  Later in the decade he will get involved in the Apache airplane engine and airport development so it seems unlikely that he wasn’t trying to be a business success in the early and mid-twenties.  Dearholt showed up a couple years later with movie schemes that ERB bought into so what was he doing in the business sense?

     Chase III who has been hanging around the studios looking for Marcia rather than studying theatre marquees gets into the movies finally locating his loved one.  Some direct borrowing from Merton Of The Movies here.  Moving very rapidly and sketchily ERB throws in a couple suicide attempts as the couple get together.  Resemblance between Edith Wharton and Scot Fitzgerald here.

     Together again there is still no hope of marriage because of possible incest, even though Marcia will never love another or marry.

     OK.  Della Maxwell.  Remember her?  She’s back in Chicago in the hospital dying a slow death.  Well, you know, she is Marcia’s mother.  On her death bed, I mean, the pen falls from her fingers as she signs the letter to Marcia, she makes a clean breast of it telling the story, sending the bigamist marriage license, birth certificate, everything so there will be no doubt that Marcia is semi-legit and not related to Chase III.

     We’re almost there do you think?  Not by a long shot and there’s only ten pages left.  The mail train with Della’s package is held up somewhere in Arizona.  The bandits disappearing over the border with the swag that contains Della’s letter and little metal box.

     Wow?  What next?  OK, ERB’s got a twist or two still hidden up his sleeve.  Banks Von Spiddle- yes, he’s out there, too- has a ranch down in Mexico that the Revolutionaries of 1914 failed to expropriate.  A guy with a name like Banks Von Spiddle ought to get lucky once in a while I should think.

     He and his vaqueros go out coyote hunting.  They have a good day, getting a full bag.  The last coyote tries to hole up in a small cave where Von Spiddle blasts the life out of him.  While he’s drawing the coyote from the cave he notices a decayed leather mail pouch kind of thing.  What do you suppose that might have been?  Yeh, right.  Della’s letter and little metal box intact.  Von Spiddle can be small or he can be big.  He chooses to be big giving the info to Chase III and Marcia so they can be married and live happily for however long marriages last in Hollywood.

     Thus ERB manages to compress a marathon into a hundred yard dash in the last fifty pages.

     Over all a good enough story.  Neither Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post nor anyone else wanted it so ERB lost a year with no income, or income from new work anyway.  If he was living on edge at the beginning of the year he was still on the edge at the end.  Whew!

     How did he get out of that financial bind?

Part VI and End is the next post.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s