To Have and To Hold (Johnston novel)
To Have and To Hold is a historical novel published in 1899 by American author Mary Johnston. In 1900, it was the best-selling novel in the United States, having originally appeared as a serial in the Atlantic Monthly. The novel is now in the public domain, and a free copy of it can be obtained at Project Gutenberg. It has been translated into several languages, including Portuguese, Arabic and German. The story takes place in 1621-1622, depicting wider events that are essentially accurate. The story is narrated by an English soldier living in colonial Jamestown (Virginia colony), who buys a wife for himself off of a ship from England (bearing women willing to become wives for passage), little knowing that the woman he married was the ward of King James I and had fled from a forced marriage, with her intended husband in hot pursuit.
Brief plot summary, with spoilers
An English soldier living in colonial Jamestown (Virginia colony) buys a wife for himself off of a ship from England, little knowing that the woman he married is the ward of King James I and has fled from a forced marriage. The new couple's marriage gets off to a rocky start. Then, the Englishman who had intended to marry the lady turns up in Virginia, attempts to kidnap her, and follows the couple and their friends as they escape from the King's orders to arrest the soldier and carry the lady back to England. While fleeing, they are all (Englishman, soldier, lady and friends) accosted by pirates, who agree to take the soldier as their captain after he pretends to be the pirate "Kirby". The pirates play along with the soldier's masquerade leadership, until he refuses to allow them to harm others. When they try to do so anyway, one of the colonists wrecks the ship, the pirates are all killed, and the colonists (and the pursuing Englishman) are all rescued by a ship bearing the new Virginian governor.
Upon the testimony of the persecuting Englishman, the soldier is tried for piracy, but the lady, having come to love the soldier, speaks for him. Her words are so persuasive that the Governor believes her and frees him, and they return to Virginia. Still, the soldier is forced to be held in jail per the King's orders. The Englishman causes the soldier to be captured by Indians, and during that fight, the Englishman is so terribly wounded that he takes poison which will soon end his life. While an Indian captive, the soldier learns that the Indians plan to attack Jamestown settlers. After many travails, the soldier manages to reach the colony with a warning just in time for them to mount a defense. After the attack is rebuffed, the soldier learns that his wife is missing, having gone into the forest prior to the attack with a friend in order to search for her soldier husband. The soldier begins a long, seemingly futile search. Eventually, with the help of an honorable Indian, he finds his wife and friend both well, and the couple are reunited.
At the end of the story, the couple intends to go to England, where the lady's lands have been restored to her and where they can finally live in peace.
- To Have and to Hold by Mary Johnston] is available electronically in a variety of formats, some of which can be uploaded to the free Kindle reader.
- This book was written well before the word "Indian" had been retired in favor of Native American. In this story, the natives are restive and threatening to the European settlers, but individuals among the tribes are named and depicted as having honor.