Emilie Loring inscribed a copy of Beckoning Trails:
“To Mary and Selden Loring.
This makes twenty-seven down and three to go.
An even thirty. I can relate to this. When I was deciding when to retire from college teaching, setting a date seemed so arbitrary. How many years would I teach? I decided to go for a good, round number, the same as Emilie Loring: thirty.
But why stop there? Did she set the goal of thirty to go on to something else? Or did she set the goal to keep herself going?
Victor Loring was eight years older than she and had heart disease. Before his eighty-seventh birthday in 1946, while Emilie was writing Bright Skies, they began to put their affairs in order.
Emilie assigned all of her titles previously published with the Penn Publishing Company–The Trail of Conflict through We Ride the Gale–to Little, Brown. She retained copyright, and a provision returned all rights to her, should the books ever go out of print.
In September, Emilie went up to her Stone House in Blue Hill, Maine and met with several members of the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club who were interested in buying the Loring’s granite wharf for their new headquarters.
Victor had a special interest in helping out the yacht club, because his older brother, Charles, and a number of his closest friends had figured prominently in yachting circles. And with the death of Minnie Owen the previous spring, all of the Lorings closest friends in Blue Hill were gone; that chapter had ended.
…not a soul among the entire club membership had ever set eyes on [Emilie Loring] to the best of their knowledge… She turned out to be a delightful person, so sympathetic to the cause that she offered the quarry property for a ridiculously modest figure.
There and then, in her own charming living room, she was voted a lifetime honorary member of the new yacht club in the making.
That seems to have been the last time she went up to Stone House. Victor died in February, 1947, while Emilie was finishing Beckoning Trails.
“Before my husband died I was able to provide professional care for him.”
“I admired him, his money meant nothing. I was earning plenty myself, but, we enjoyed the same things, he was enormously proud of what I had accomplished. We were great companions, and Debby, in the last analysis, the good companion is what counts most in marriage.”
Her parents, sister, brother, many friends, and now, her husband, had died. She was eighty years old herself; of course she considered her age and her own mortality. But she had a longtime conviction about them.
“I’ve observed that the man or woman with a big interest in life never is age-conscious. They are too busy to count passing years”
“I don’t like that word ‘eventually,’ it has a gruesome sound. Here’s hoping it is a long way ahead. I have plots for ten more novels at least before I sign off.”
Beckoning Trails was published in November, 1947, and I wonder what discussion they’d had that trimmed ten novels down to the four she mentioned in her inscription for Mary and Selden. Had something changed, or did she, like me, just settle on thirty as a good, round number?
Like a performer on a farewell tour, Emilie Loring’s “final four” went back to her familiar settings: Wellesley Hills for Beckoning Trails, the Maine coast (Ogunquit) for I Hear Adventure Calling, Washington, D.C. for Love Came Laughing By, and a hybrid of Blue Hill and York, Maine, for To Love and to Honor.
Calling them her “Final Four” really is a little like the NCAA basketball tournament. Excellence is distributed throughout the bracket–or reading list, in this case–and the last four are really good, demonstrably among the best. It’s clear she put her full heart into them, each a worthy “last,” should it turn out that way.
In July, 1950, Emilie Loring finished To Love and to Honor, but she didn’t stop. On to ten! She signed a contract for her next book, to be delivered by June 1951.
That didn’t happen. Her health failing, Emilie moved in with her son Robert at their old house in Wellesley Hills. She wore a nice dress every day, enjoyed her afternoon tea, and kept writing until her death on March 13, 1951.
“Something tells me that our internationally famous author had this finale plotted last September.” Beckoning Trails