The hero who tells the tale is called "quahaug" or clam by his neighbors because of his supposedly unsociable disposition. Story relates his amusing experiences in England and France with an elderly spinster cousin.
Jim put his pipe in his pocket. I think at last he was convinced that I meant what I said, which I certainly did. The last year had been a year of torment to me. I had finished the 'Brig,' as a matter of duty, but if that piratical craft had sunk with all hands, including its creator, I should not have cared. I drove myself to my desk each day, as a horse might be driven to a treadmill, but the animal could have taken no less interest in his work than I had taken in mine. It was bad--bad--bad; worthless and hateful. There wasn't a new idea in it and I hadn't one in my head. I, who had taken up writing as a last resort, a gamble which might, on a hundred-to-one chance, win where everything else had failed, had now reached the point where that had failed, too. Campbell's surmise was correct; with the pretence of asking him to the Cape for a week-end of fishing and sailing I had lured him there to tell him of my discouragement and my determination to quit.
He took his feet from the rail a
The title character thinks of himself as a quahaug--as dug in as a clam, hiding away in a sleepy Cape Cod village and writing pop fiction to make a living. When his sales begin to slip, his publisher decides to send him to Europe, where his composure is assaulted by an encounter with a long-lost relative who turns out be be quite different than expected. An engaging book, although the main character's complete lack of self-esteem can get on your nerves.