Peter Clark MacFarlane. Held to Answer: A Novel (1916) Illustrated by W.B. King. 521 pp.
“Eternal loyalty is the price of true success!” This is the motto of young John Hampstead, who has the opportunity to put it to the ultimate test. The first half of this novel chronicles Hampstead’s career trajectory from railroad clerk in Los Angeles to stage actor in San Francisco to door-to-door book agent and, finally, to respected, self-sacrificing minister of All People’s Church in Oakland. Financially responsible for his sister and her two children, John has always been determined to be successful and has finally found his calling as a pastor who will go to any length necessary to aid those—the downtrodden, misfortunate, and sometimes even criminal—who need his help. Things change dramatically when Marien Dounay, a successful actress with whom Hampstead had formed a brief attachment when they were both ambitious, struggling thespians, returns to Oakland seeking to renew their relationship. Not interested in returning to his former lifestyle, John rejects her advances. Then, Rollo Charles Burbeck, a bank clerk and son of John’s fiercest supporters at the church, steals Marien’s diamond necklace in order to cover the fact that he had “borrowed” some of the bank’s money in order to pay off his gambling debts. When the robbery goes wrong, he comes to John for help. John agrees to help him replace the money as long as he returns the necklace to Marien and confesses his crime to her. Through Rollo’s cowardice and Marien’s desire for revenge, John is blamed for the crime. Refusing to name the real criminal—due to his concern for the fragile health of Rollo’s mother and his commitment to loyalty—John is held to answer the charge himself.
Setting: Oakland; San Francisco [1900s]
Baird & Greenwood 1613