Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Annie Lee, Philip Ray, and Enoch Arden played together as children. Sometimes Philip was the husband, sometimes Enoch, but Annie was always the mistress. If the boys quarreled over her, Annie would weep and beg them not to quarrel and say she would be a wife to both of them.
As they grew older and ceased their childish games, Enoch and Philip grew to love Annie. Enoch told her of his love, but Philip kept silent. Philip was the miller’s son and a rich boy; Enoch was a poor orphan. He bought a small boat and became a fisherman. He sailed aboard a merchant ship for a full year before he had enough money to make a home for Annie. When he reached his twenty-first year he asked her to be his wife. While the two lovers talked together, Philip looked down on them as they sat at the edge of the wood. He went away quietly, locking his love for Annie deep in his heart.
For seven years Enoch and Annie lived in health and prosperity. They had two children, a girl and a boy. Then misfortune came. Enoch slipped and fell and lay months recovering. While he was ill, a sickly child was born, his favorite. There was no money and the children were hungry, and Enoch’s heart almost broke to see his family in want.
The chance came for him to sail again on a merchantman bound for China. He sold his fishing boat that he might get a small store of goods and set Annie up as a trader while he was gone, so that she and the children might not be in want...
(The entire section is 714 words.)
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