Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Guy Mannering, a young English gentleman traveling in Scotland, stops at the home of Godfrey Bertram, Laird of Ellangowan, on the night the first Bertram child, a boy, is born. Mannering, a student of astrology, casts the horoscope of the newborn babe and is distressed to find that the child’s fifth, tenth, and twenty-first years will be hazardous. The young Englishman puzzles over the fact that the boy’s twenty-first year will correspond with the thirty-ninth year of the woman Mannering loves, which is the year the stars say will bring her death or imprisonment. An old gypsy, Meg Merrilies, also predicts danger for the new baby. Not wishing to worry the parents, Mannering writes down his finds and presents them to Mr. Bertram, first cautioning him not to open the packet until the child passes by one day his fifth birthday. Then he departs.
Young Harry Bertram grows steadily and well. He is tutored and supervised by Dominie Sampson, a teacher and preacher retained by his father; at times, the child is also watched over by the gypsy Meg, who has great love for the boy. The child is four years old when the laird becomes a justice of the peace and promises to rid the countryside of gypsies and poachers. After he orders all gypsies to leave the district, old Meg puts a curse on him, saying that his own house is in danger of being as empty as are now the homes of the gypsies. On Harry’s fifth birthday, the prediction comes true: The boy disappears while...
(The entire section is 1259 words.)
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