Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
Geoffrey Lester, a roving and dissipated man, ran away from his wife and only son. His brother, Rowland Lester, took the forsaken family into his own home at Grassdale. Both brothers’ wives soon died, and kindly old Rowland took over the responsibility of rearing not only his two daughters, Madeline and Ellinor, but also his young nephew Walter. As the children grew up, Walter fell in love with Madeline, but his love was not returned. It was Ellinor who idealized her cousin as a perfect young man.
One day, a stranger came to Grassdale, a crude, ugly man who was to affect all their lives. Startled by the man while they were out walking, Madeline and Ellinor fled to the house of Eugene Aram, a young recluse and scholar whom they knew slightly. Aram did his best to make the two sisters comfortable and went to secure a carriage to take them home. During his absence, the stranger came to the cottage and asked if Eugene Aram were in. He was sent away. That night, he appeared again at the cottage. Aram recognized him as a man named Houseman, whom he had known under dreadful circumstances years before.
In spite of his solitary preoccupation with science and philosophy, Aram began to visit the Lester family. Before long, it was obvious to Walter that Madeline and Aram were falling in love, and Walter begged Rowland to let him go away for a while. Rowland, sensing his nephew’s feelings, allowed him to go. Before he left, Walter had a long talk with...
(The entire section is 1421 words.)
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