How to Donate
This lovely manuscript contains a handwritten novel of romance and deception set against the background of Jacksonville in the early 1900s. Nothing is known of the author. By her spelling and choice of words she was clearly American, and acquainted with Florida, though she inevitably chose to make her heroines English. The plot traces the travails of Eleanor Barton as she seeks to unravel a family mystery and reunite with the love of her life. The backdrop for the story includes the Great Freeze and the Great Fire of Jacksonville (misdated, as the author admits, for the convenience of the plot). The manuscript is highlighted throughout with original floral designs, similar to that shown on the title page, and contains several other stories, "The Bays Double," "A Double Event," and "The Winning Woman." The material in "Daphné" reveals a general first-hand knowledge of Florida, such as might be obtained on a visit, but information on the Freeze and the Fire seems to rely on newspaper or gazetteer accounts for specifics. Much of the action takes place at the imaginary plantation of Seville.
[Eleanor is tyring to prevent the sale of a friend's plantation property]. "It was still warm, and up to now, there had not been much, if any, anxiety for a change of wind to the proper quarter would be enough to send the cold blast on to the Atlantic, or stop it on its way. That had occurred so many times during the late years that the people had begun to believe that it would always do so, forgetting that years before a killing frost had swept much farther south throughout the State.
So had passed the following days, still the warm weather continued, though the weather bureau was beginning to be alarmed.
On the morning of the day on which Eleanor had discovered that the deed was to be signed, the outlook became much more serious.
She made up her mind that now was the time to act. Her plot might end in failure. It might not. It was, from her point of view, worth trying, so she sent a telegram to Mr. Marshall with the three agreed upon words, the result being that Mr. Pratt, much as he disliked doing it just then, hurried off by the first train to Sanford after leaving a note in his office for Mr. Proctor, saying that the signing of the deed would have to be postponed until the following morning. About midday there was a downpour of torrential rain, following which, and during the lull, the wind shifted round from southeast to northwest, and the temperature immediately began to drop.
All through the day the engines and steamers were whistling their fateful notes of warning as they passed along; men and women left their ordinary occupations and began with feverish haste to pick the fruit (and you cannot pull off an orange properly, you have to cut the stalk). Many, instead of losing time carting it under cover dug holes and buried it, whilst others, instead of picking, hauled great stacks of wood round their groves and trees, ready to set fire to them before the temperature got down to the danger point."