He caught up with the stranger, crashed into him with a force that made them both fall, so that they rolled over and over, sometimes together, sometimes apart, Hugh struggling to catch the fellow's coat, the man jerking violently to keep himself free. He struck, missed Hugh, and then was in the water, splashing to push off his boat, climbing in over the side and picking up the oars. There was nothing to be done now. Hugh stood on the bank and finally shouted the question that he should have asked at first. "What did you want? What were you doing?"
With her masterful use of language, Cornelia Meigs has combined historical fiction and mystery in this wonderful tale set in early America. Two brothers, Jeremy and Hugh, move with their family to New Jersey. There, they hope to find a peaceful, secure home with their grandfather. However, the family fortune is in jeopardy, and Jeremy heads to Europe in search of a family ship that had been seized by the Dutch. Hugh gets a job as a gardener at the estate of Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte who is in exile. Little does Hugh know the complex and mysterious adventure his new job will bring him.
"The Scarlet Oak, by the master author Cornelia Meigs, is a great way to engage readers with top-quality literature. This wholesome adventure story, first published in 1938, keeps the reader turning the pages while experiencing life in a different time period." (Jenny Phillips)