The Lost Clue

It has been nice to see the Lamplighter ministry growing. I’ve been reading Lamplighter books for ten years or so now. I started out with the Tales of the Kingdom trilogy, then began picking up the book of the year, and now I have quite a few of them. I’m never disappointed when I read a Lamplighter book. Now I hear Mark Hamby on Moody radio giving brief talks. The Lamplighter newsletter, which you can sign up to receive at the website, is always an encouragement. Many times there is some good humor in there. For instance, in this past newsletter, there was a link to some humorous signs and pictures that had me laughing. Here is the link:

Now let me present the latest Lamplighter book that I read. It is titled The Lost Clue and it’s authored by Mrs. O. F. Walton. She also wrote Christie’s Old Organ which I enjoyed very much. Another Lamplighter book by Walton has just been released titled A Peep Behind the Scenes. Overall, The Lost Clue was a very thought provoking book. One of the main themes was distinguishing between people who think of others first and people who think of themselves first. Some of the British classes of social distinctions may be lost on American readers, but the main premise of the book will shine through.

The plot is somewhat predictable. Captain Fortescue, age 25, finds that his father is about to die. He rushes home to have a few last words with him. There is a matter which his father states must be addressed by way of a letter which his son must open after he dies. After his death, Captain Fortescue cannot find the letter. But he did find out directly from his father that a certain widow had entrusted all her wealth to him. Just days before this, old Mr. Fortescue found out that all his money that he had invested and the widow’s money was completely gone due to a bad investment. He makes his son promise that he will travel to this widow and break the news to her in person that all of her money had been lost.

In the midst of this dramatic change for Captain Fortescue, he makes a selfless decision. He no longer has any wealth of his own since his father’s money is gone. He also has just lost his father. In spite of this, he purposes in himself that he will personally assume the loss of the widow’s money as a personal debt. When he travels to see Mrs. Douglass, he is impressed with her daughter Marjorie, who is about to turn 21. Actually, he is impressed with the whole family and their kindness to him in spite of the circumstances. Later, he breaks the news of his loss to an upper class family whose daughter he had thought of marrying; that is, before his father lost all of their wealth. Afterward, he reflects on the difference between the reactions of the different families.

But as the Captain journeyed on to Aldershot, and recalled Lady Violet’s words, “It makes it awfully hard for us,” he could not help contrasting them with other words, spoken by another voice, only ten days before, “Please don’t think about us; it is quite hard enough for you.” And, as he thought of the difference between the two remarks, he mourned less than he would otherwise have done over the Finis which he had read at the bottom of that last page.

I’m sure that you can guess this is a romantic love story. I think it would be just as enjoyable for females to read as for males because some of the portions of the book are written from the man’s point of view and some are written from the woman’s point of view. The theme of selflessness in the midst of trials, poverty, and daily chores is the real distinguishing aspect of this book. But lest you think that the gospel is absent, let me say that there are two genuine conversions to Christ in this story. I’ll quote a section from the middle of the book so it won’t spoil the plot for those who intend to read it.

“What is it, Mother Hotchkiss?”

“The doctor has been,” she said, “and he says as how I won’t be long now. I heard him tell Anna Maria when she let him out.”

“Well, don’t cry,” said Marjorie; “you know what I told you when I was here last.”

“Yes, I think of it all the time.”

“And have you said that little prayer?”

“Yes, I have; ‘O Lord, forgive me my sins, for Jesus Christ’s sake.’ I’ve said it scores of times; but I don’t believe He will forgive me, all the same.”

“Why not?”

“Oh! Because ¾ because ¾ But I mustn’t tell you. You see, I promised not to tell; but He’ll never forgive me, I know He won’t.”

“But He says He will. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.’”

“Yes, that’s just it; that’s just what I mean, my dear. If we confess our sins; but I haven’t confessed my sin. See?”

“But, dear Mother Hotchkiss, you must confess it,” said Marjorie.

“But I can’t ¾ I can’t ¾ you don’t understand, my dear. It’s something as I can’t confess.”

The main portion of this book revolves around the title of this work, The Lost Clue. What was it that Captain Fortescue’s father wanted him to know after his death? Why was the letter missing from the safe? Why did Watson act so suspiciously on the night his father passed away? These themes come back as the plot progresses making for a slightly predictable mystery, love story to come to two dramatic climaxes; one when Captain Fortescue finds the letter, but with one important word blotted out, and the other when Captain Fortescue completely solves the mystery by waiting on the LORD as his helper.

Then came the simple sermon, devoid of all oratory, free from any attempt at grandiloquent language, as he urged his hearers to take the text as their watchword during the coming week. Each had his secret care; let him turn that care into earnest prayer. Then, having done that, let him wait patiently. God was sure to answer; but the answer must come in God’s own time. Prayer cannot be lost; but we must not try to hasten God’s hand; we must tarry the Lord’s leisure. Then, doing that, we shall be strong and comforted.

I recommend this book for the reason I recommend all the Lamplighter books I have read. They are of the highest Christian content. This book in particular makes you ponder putting others first even when you yourself are going through difficult times. Many trials are explored such as widowhood, poverty, invalidism, depression, and just plain old grime in a house. In each circumstance, the character either thinks selfishly, selflessly, or is influenced one way or the other by the main characters in the book. When you get done with the book, I’m sure you will see the way you treat other people differently.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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