The Boarder, a woman writer who comes to Dunnet Landing, Maine, to work in seclusion. Here she meets many people and finds friendly, interesting characters.
Mrs. Almira Todd
Mrs. Almira Todd, a friendly widow who accepts the writer as a boarder. She is also an herb doctor, growing herbs in her garden and searching out others in the fields.
Captain Littlepage, an elderly, retired sea captain who tells the writer a yarn about his own shipwreck and a town of ghosts near the North Pole, where souls await their passage to the next world.
Mrs. Blackett, Mrs. Todd’s aged mother. She lives on an island with her son William and does her own housework.
William Blackett, Mrs. Todd’s brother, a bashful man. He loves Esther Hight and finally is able to marry her when he is in his fifties.
Mrs. Fosdick, a friend of Mrs. Todd. She comes often to visit with her friend and to tell stories about the local folk.
Mr. Tilley, an old fisherman. He is reserved with strangers, but he accepts the writer as a friend and shows her the house he has kept for eight years the same as it was when his wife died.
Esther Hight, a woman loved by William Blackett. She supports herself and her elderly mother by tending sheep. After her mother’s death, she is free to marry William.
Eighty-six-year-old Mrs. Blackett is Mrs. Todd’s mother. She lives on Green Island with her son William. Mrs. Blackett is very lively, as well as extremely healthy and active for her age. The narrator meets Mrs. Blackett for the first time on Green Island, where the elderly lady shows a warm, comfortable hospitality that quickly dispenses with formality, and she treats her new acquaintance like an old friend. Mrs. Blackett enjoys teasing her sixty-seven-year-old daughter by treating Mrs. Todd as if she were the frailer of the two. Mrs. Blackett comes to shore toward the end of the novel to attend the Bowden family reunion. She is clearly a great favorite among many people and the narrator refers to her as a “queen” because of her much favored status in the community.
William Blackett, who is about sixty years old, is Mrs. Todd’s younger brother. He lives on Green Island with his mother, Mrs. Blackett. William is very shy of people, especially women, and stays away when the narrator first lands on the island. Eventually, however, he comes in to meet the narrator. Later, William takes the narrator for a walk on the island, showing her a lookout point that he describes as the most beautiful view in the world. The narrator is quite certain the island is the only place in the world he has ever been. At the Blackett home, the narrator learns that William loves to sing. On the day of the Bowden family reunion, William does not show up because of his extreme shyness, even with his own extended family.
Mrs. Susan Fosdick
Susan Fosdick is an old friend of Mrs. Todd, who visits her from out of town. The narrator is apprehensive at first that Mrs. Fosdick, an unknown guest, will be joining the household for a time, but, upon meeting Mrs. Fosdick, she immediately likes her. Mrs. Fosdick talks of old gossip with Mrs. Todd, while the narrator listens. She brings up the story of “poor Joanna,” which the narrator finds very sad and intriguing.
Captain Littlepage is an old retired sea captain who stops by the schoolhouse to talk with the narrator one afternoon. At first, she finds his talk dull, but eventually becomes engrossed in the story he tells of a shipwreck he experienced, which left him stranded at a remote missionary station near the North Pole. There he met an old seaman named Gaffett, who told him a mysterious story of his own shipwreck years earlier. Captain Littlepage tells Gaffett’s story of discovering a mysterious village in uncharted territory in the North Pole region, in which the inhabitants seemed to be ghosts, or creatures in a waiting-place...
(The entire section is 1,218 words.)