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John Hancock Chase Jr.

Max Heimer

Marcus Aurelius Sackett

Clara Sackett

Marcia Aurelia Sackett

Della Maxwell

Dick Steele

John Hancock Chase

John Hancock Chase III

Homer Ashton

Mame Myerz

Judge Isaac "Ike" Berlanger

Patsy Kellar

Mrs. Homer Ashton

Banks van Spiddle

Jack Chase




"Danny" Dever




Henry Vebert

Helen Vebert



Mrs. Blahwell

Otto Appel

Marian Sands (Marcia)


Summarized by
David Adams


Hidden in the author's safe until discovered in the 1960s, Marcia of the Doorstep is one of ERB's "contemporary novels" written in the world he knew in the 1920's. This novel was eventually published by Donald Grant in 1999 and has the distinction of being the longest the author ever wrote. Marcia is one of the long awaited "lost novels" of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

—David Bruce Bozarth

I The Way Out

John Hancock Chase, Jr., a married man, is being blackmailed by Heimer, a Jewish lawyer. Heimer tells him that he became the father of his client’s (Mame’s) child during a drunken party, the details of which John cannot remember. Chase has run out of money, and in order to avoid disgrace he shoots himself.

II The Sacketts

Marcus Aurelius Sackett, an actor of the old school (Edwin Booth) threatens to quit his job at the theater when he is asked to play the part of “Dr. Pip “ in “Oh Rats!” a problem play of the day, 1906. He returns to his home and wife, Clara, who is also an actress, and a girl baby is left on their doorstep.They decide to keep her, and name her Marcia Aurelia Sackett. His niece, Della Maxwell, another actress, arrives from Chicago to live with them and becomes the baby’s nursemaid.

III Sixteen Years

Marcia is given the best education possible by her foster parents, and she grows up to become a talented beauty. Della continues to live with the Sacketts all these years, smoking, drinking, acting in plays, but she loves Marcia without reservation. Marcus’ theater group fails and the lawyer, Heimer, comes to the house and suspects that Marcia is the child of his blackmail affair 16 years ago. Heimer takes the Sacketts out on the town and begins his nefarious dealings with Clara, no doubt hoping for more money from this case. Marcia suggests her going into motion pictures, but Marcus won’t hear of it. Dick Steele is Marcia’s boyfriend, a bright, clean college man in his junior year.

IV The Senator

John Hancock Chase, former senator from Maryland, is alone in the world but for his grandson, Lieutenant John Hancock Chase III, a West Point Graduate stationed in Honolulu. He hopes to spend some time with this boy during his leave, but the lad has been invited by Homer Ashton to go on a cruise to Japan on his yacht. Max Heimer approaches the elder Chase with the details of the reason for his son’s suicide and offers to find his son’s bastard daughter for a price. The senator agrees only to provide money to support the girl, but he never wants to see her.

V Mame Myerz

Mame goes to Senator Chase’s home to extort money from him, but he refuses and all but throws her out. Heimer has to direct his further dealings with this case through Judge Isaac Berlanger, the Senator’s attorney, and he is not pleased that he can’t get his hands directly on the money promised to Marcia.

VI Finances

Marcus has not worked in a long time and does not have enough money to pay for Marcia’s voice lessons, however, Della offers to foot the bills, which they gratefully accept. Marcia announces that she is about to begin a career in the motion picture industry, and Marcus reluctantly submits to her decision.

VII A Red Letter Day

Della loans Marcus a thousand dollars to pay his bills, and he uses most of it to buy expensive gifts for the three women in his life, Clara, Marcia, and Della. Heimer comes to the Sackett home and tricks Marcus into signing away most of the money the Senator plans to give to Marcia.

VIII An Anonymous Grandfather

Judge Berlanger sees through Heimer’s plot and foils his plans immediately, much to his chagrin. He gives the check for $20,000 to Marcus, who at first refuses it as being too much. Then he arranges a monthly stipend of $250 for Marcia, the rest of the $1000 monthly payment to be invested for her later education. The Judge warns Marcia not to have any sympathy for her natural mother, whom he has met and has found as low as a snake. Marcia wishes she could see her grandfather, but the Judge tells her it is part of the agreement that they should never meet.

IX Della’s Letter

Marcia dines with Patsy Kellar at her sister’s (Mrs. Homer Ashton’s) home. The Ashton’s like her so well that they decide to ask her to come along on their planned cruise to the Orient. Judge Berlanger (Ike) tells Senator Chase about the noble actions of the Sackett’s during his meeting with them, but he still will not see his granddaughter. Della gets a letter that causes her much grief. Marcus tells her about their good fortune and repays the loan she made to him.

X The Invitation

The Ashtons ask Marcia to join them on their cruise to the Orient and she agrees. Marcia also attracts a new admirer, Banks van Spiddle, who is also going on the cruise. Marcus plans to invent the $20,000 in forming a traveling Shakespeare company. He goes to Heimer for advice (who has amazingly never heard of Shakespeare and advises him to invest in a musical comedy). In the end, Heimer becomes the treasurer and general manager of the company.

XI A Little Love

Dick Stelle is upset by Marcia’s proposed trip with Banks van Spiddle in attendance. He has quit college and taken a job with the National Air Ship plant to earn money as soon as possible. He feels Marcia’s wealth has put her in another social class and that it is driving them apart. Marcus buys a car (much to Clara’s disapproval at the extravagance). They go for a ride, and Marcus in his usual bungling manner hits a taxi.

XII Goodbye!

Heimer fixes the by-laws of the Sackett Company so he will be able to write checks on the $15,000 deposit without Marcus’ approval. Marcia is getting ready for her three month cruise, and she and Dick have their first quarrel. (Dick is anxious to learn how to fly an airplane to get into a higher income bracket.) He goes to see Marcia the night before she leaves and gets her to promise she will not marry Banks before they meet again. Banks drops by and the three get along quite well. Dick releases Marcia from her promise, and they kiss goodbye.

XIII Patsy Is Bored

Banks is constantly wooing Marcia aboard the Lady X. Both she and Patsy are tired of hearing his line of devotion. The trip is slow because they are trying to reach Honolulu by sail alone on the Ashton yacht. Banks proposes to Marcia. She does not really say, “no,” but mentions a slight preference for Dick.

XIV Jack Chase

Jack Chase comes out to meet the Lady X at Honolulu. He meets the girls and promises to show them around the islands. (Marcia has been told his family story, which is coincidentally linked to her own.) Jack escorts Patsy, but in a single moment Marcia “sees Jack through new eyes.” At home, Dick daydreams about being a pilot who dies in a plane crash so Marcia will regret losing him.

XV Gathering Clouds

Patsy suspects that Marcia likes Jack, but she wants him too. Ike tells Senator Chase that his granddaughter and grandson are on a cruise together. He is worried that they might fall in love - brother and sister. Marcus’ touring company is a success, but Heimer tells him they are not making much money. Marcus allows himself to be deceived and cheated.

XVI Patsy Maneuvers

Jack speaks well of Marcia to Patsy, and she feels jealous. She brings up Marcia’s doorstep background and alludes to “bad blood,” but Jack does not agree with her theories. He mentions his own father’s suicide.

XVII The Squall

Marcia and Jack have a conversation about love. He says he is in love with someone but she is promised to another. Marcia is afraid to reply in that she might reveal her own feelings toward him. A sudden squall breaks the masts off the ship, and Jack takes Marcia in his arms. A gale rises and they lose the propeller and rudder on the wreckage. Patsy and Marcia argue over Jack even as the ship is floundering.

XVIII Helpless

The party is adrift in the South Pacific. Ashton makes plans for a long siege. Jack is put in charge of food distribution, but the sailor, Wise, objects along with Slenk, another villain. Jack thinks they can handle the crew with their guns but warns about Bledgo, who has been eying the girls.

XIX The Derelict

The Lady X drifts for three weeks under the experienced discipline of “Danny” Dever, hired captain of the pleasure yacht. Jones, the mate, is a quiet, modest young man but an excellent navigator. Ashton announces to an already mutinous crew that rations will have to be cut again. Schensky accuses them of cheating the crew of food and says they are taking over the ship. The mild mannered Jones knocks him out with one punch. Schensky is handcuffed and all are amazed by Jones' decisive action. High seas come up and the Lady X is being drawn toward another derelict, a four masted schooner. They will strike it and come apart in the sea in two hours.

XX Another Wreck

Heimer is cheating Marcus out of his money. The plays are a success, but Heimer is doctoring the books to look like the Sacketts are broke. Marcus attempts suicide by gassing himself in his hotel room but is saved at the last minute by Clara. Aboard the lady X they are playing bridge waiting for the inevitable crash. As they near the wreck, they decide to get into the lifeboats and abandon ship.

XXI The Starboard Boat

In the darkness and confusion of the high sea Marcia gets on the wrong boat with the mutinous crew members -- she is actually thrown in by Bledgo. The Lady X strikes the derelict, and Bledgo is knocked unconscious. Fortunately, Jack manages to get aboard with Marcia. There are arguments as to who is in command, but Chase has a gun so they settle down to rowing.

XXII The Last Drop

Amidst all this turmoil, Jack learns that Marcia and Banks were not really engaged as intimated by Patsy. Their lifeboat is separated from the other one. Some of the sailors seem decent, but some look at Marcia and laugh. Pilkins seems decent, so Chase trusts him to skipper the boat and help keep watch. After a week they run out of food and water. Jack has saved a little of his own ration for Marcia.

XXIII The Eighth Day

Bledgo tries to strangle Schensky and eat him alive, so Jack knocks him out and has him tied up. Schensky is grateful to Chase. Marcia and Jack discuss her love for Dick even as they approach an island which will save them from certain death upon the sea. The sailors think they see people. They land easily and have coconuts. They make two camps apart from each other -- five men are still dangerous.

XXIV Old Friends

Marcus runs out of money and Heimer gives him $100. He runs into an old friend, Henry Vebert, who is now in motion pictures. Marcus goes to dinner at the home of Henry and Helen, and they mention his possible entry into motion pictures, but he vehemently declines. Marcus reads in the newspaper that the Lady X is three weeks overdue in Manila. He and Clara are worried. All of Marcus’ old friends are in motion pictures, but he is adamant. A cruiser from Pearl Harbor is searching the Caroline Islands for the Ashton yacht.

XXV Sorenson Comes To Lunch

Chase hangs white coats on poles on the summit of the island’s promontory as a distress signal. His camp has a hut for Marcia at the center with seven others around it for protection. They have plenty of food and fresh water. Jack and Marcia keep watch for a ship every day. Sorenson warns them that a crew of cutthroats have landed upon the other side of the island -- friends of Bledgo. They plan to kidnap Marcia at midnight. Chase counter plans to get their ship when they come around the island to get Marcia.

XXVI Crumcrow

Chase brings his party around the island and hides just outside the pirate camp. He sends Crumcrow to watch and see when they leave. While Crumcrow waits he sees the pirates having a good time and decides to join them, betraying Chase and the others. Chase hears the pirates trying to surround them and escapes with Marcia into the jungle while the others stay behind to give them time to get away. Marcia and Chase come to a clearing, then lie down and fall asleep.


Bedgo is so drunk that he gets separated from his men and gets lost in the jungle. By accident, he finds Jack and Marcia asleep on the ground. Marcia awakens just in time and Jack dispatches Bledgo with his fists and the butt of his gun. He confides in Marcia that the gun isn’t loaded. He takes Bledgo’s knife and moves off into the jungle with Marcia. They get lost and wander around until finally Jack declares his love for her. He says she loves him too, and they kiss. They quote the book of Ruth, “Whither thou goest, etc.” in a kind of marriage ceremony. Marcia reminds him they are only engaged. Like all lovers do, they tell each other when they first fell in love. Marcia tells Jack that Patsy is also in love with him. Jack cuts a little shelter for them, and it begins to rain. It becomes so cold that Jack decides to move on through the jungle to keep their circulation moving. Jack calls her his “brave little wife.”

XXVIII A Friend In Need

Heimer bumps into Marcus and tries to convince him into going into motion pictures. Marcus refuses but accepts a roll of bills because he is broke. Dick Steele comes out to California to work in motion pictures as a stunt pilot at F. and H. Studios, a company owned by Heimer.

XXIX Smoke

Marcia worries about Dick but is happy with Jack. They climb a ridge and see the smoke from a ship. They spot the smoke of a signal fire and come upon the members of the other lifeboat. Jack tells Patsy of his love for Marcia and she is angry. The ship see their signal and comes to the rescue.

XXX A Telegram

Marcus gets a telegram that reports the wreckage of the Lady X. He can’t pay the rest so they are thrown our of their apartment into the street. Dick finds out about the missing Marcia, then gets a job with his plane in a F. and H. cartoon.

XXXI Off In The Night

The destroyer picks up both lifeboat parties, but the pirate schooner is gone. Jack wants the ship’s captain to marry them, but he agrees to wait until they land in Manila. Marcia gets the cable and letter from Berlanger informing her that Jack is really her brother. She makes plans to slip away in the night on a steamer to the States. She leaves a brief note for Jack and the Ashtons and an envelope from one of Dick’s letters she has received which declares his undying love.

XXXII The Drab Girl

In the morning Jack finds the note and envelope. They trace Marcia’s hasty exit through the hotel manager to the steamship company and discover that she sailed on The Vancouver to San Francisco in the early hours. Marcia keeps to herself on the ship, a drab little girl. However, she agrees to sing at a little shipboard entertainment arranged by one, Mrs. Blahwell.

XXXIII Cinderella

Marcia is a hit with her singing. She attracts the attention of Otto Appel, the motion picture director, who hires her to be in his next picture.

XXXIV Marian Sands

Marcia writes to the Sacketts and Della Maxwell. Della gets her letter at a New York hospital where she is dying, and immediately writes back to Marcia. She gives the letter and a package (a small tin box) to the nurse for mailing, then dies. The registered letter and package are stolen in a train robbery, but she learns of Della’s death from the nurse’s unregistered letter. Marcia takes the stage name of Marian Sands and meets her father, Marcus, on the set of her first motion picture.

XXXV A Fruitless Search

Jack Chase looks for Marcia at all of the Hollywood studios. (He found out she was there from Pilkins who had talked to her on the ship to San Francisco). He looks for weeks without success, even resigning his commission in the army. He starts gambling and drinking. Marcus is doing well as an actor at Silverscreen. Marcia tells him Dick has heard that Heimer picked up $25,000 somewhere, but Marcus will not listen to any suggestions that he stole it from him. Dick is wooing Marcia again. She tells him about her brother, Jack, but still does not agree to marry him.

XXXVI Will You Be My Wife?

Banks Van Spiddle goes to Hollywood and makes as fruitless search for Jack as Jack had for Marcia. He finally finds Marcia at Silverscreen studios, and over dinner she tells him about Jack. Banks proposes to Marcia. She mentions Dick but says she will marry no one for years, if ever. Banks promises to wait.

XXXVII A Confession

Jack goes back to Hollywood nearly broke and lands a job in a mob scene at Silverscreen. Mame Myerz is mad at Heimer and tells Judge Berlanger she is not Marcia’s mother. The besotted Jack had really been at Heimer’s apartment not with her that fateful evening. She also tells him that Heimer cheated Marcus out of over $30,000. Both Berlanger and Senator Chase go to L.A.

XXXVIII Love and Tragedy

Judge Berlanger goes to Heimer and gets Marcia’s address. He tells him what Mame said so the man knows he is in trouble. Jack and Marcia finally meet again, and she tells him the truth of their relationship. Judge Berlanger arrives and tells Marcia about Mame’s confession. Marcia sends Dick to tell Jack the good news, but they send a boy to do it because he has a stunt to shoot. Back at his apartment Jack prepares to shoot himself when he hears the doorbell. Dick commits suicide in the plane stunt.

XXXIX The Coyote Hunt

Jack’s suicide is stopped in time, and he goes to see Marcia. She tells him the real truth -- they are not brother and sister. On a coyote hunt at his Mexican ranch Banks finds the stolen mail pouch and Della’s letter to Marcia revealing that she is her real mother. He reads a newspaper account of Dick’s death and decides to hold the evidence of Marcia’s identity, thinking Marcia may marry him someday.

XL The Silver Lining

Mame retracts her confession, but Dick’s previous investigations of Heimer shows that he was indeed cheating Marcus. Part of her confession is proven to be true, so perhaps all of it is true as well. In the end Banks does the decent thing, bringing the information from Della that makes Marcia and Jack’s marriage possible. Heimer eventually loses a civil suit that passes the F. and H. studio into the hands of Marcus Aurelius Sackett.

The End