Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
The Wynne family had descended from an ancient Welsh line. That part of the family which had remained in Wales now held the family estate of Wyncote. The American branch, being Quaker, had dissociated itself from the more worldly family at Wyncote, and Hugh Wynne grew up under the stern discipline of John Wynne’s orthodoxy. John’s sister, Gainor Wynne, had not become a Quaker. Because Hugh was his aunt’s favorite, early in his life he fell under the influence of those who were outside the ways of the Quakers.
Jack Warder was Hugh’s closest friend, the two boys having gone to school together. Aunt Gainor often invited both boys to her home in Philadelphia, where she was surrounded by a worldly group of English officers, men upon whom the Quakers frowned. Hugh enjoyed their society, to the delight of his aunt, who wished her nephew to break his Quaker ties. Jack Warder, however, did not like Gainor Wynne’s friends. When he and Hugh were old enough to judge moral values for themselves, their friendship became strained. Hugh’s father was never fully aware of the the way Hugh spent his time away from home.
One night, while drinking and gambling with his worldly friends, Hugh met a cousin, Arthur Wynne, of the family at Wyncote. He instinctively disliked his relative because of his superior ways and his deceitful manner. During the evening, Hugh became very drunk. Suddenly his mother and Jack Warder burst into the room.
This incident marked the beginning of Hugh’s break with his father’s church and the renewal of his friendship with Jack Warder. Hugh, realizing his folly, was thankful that Jack had seen him on the streets and had led his mother to rescue him from the drunken party. He began to realize the depth of his mother’s love and understanding. John Wynne was quite different in his attitude. A few nights later, he took Hugh to a Quaker meeting, where public prayers were offered to save Hugh’s soul. Hugh’s embarrassment caused him to lose all of his love for the Quaker religion and to bear a deep resentment against his father.
At Gainor Wynne’s home, Jack and Hugh heard much conversation about disagreement between the Americans and the British. Gainor was a Whig, and under her influence Jack and Hugh gained sympathy for their American compatriots. Arthur Wynne too had become part of the society that gathered at Gainor Wynne’s house. Jack and Hugh had never liked Arthur, but now they had a new cause for their dislike. Arthur made no secret of his admiration for Darthea Peniston, a schoolmate of Jack and Hugh, and his bragging about Wyncote seemingly won her interest, thus arousing Hugh’s jealousy. When Hugh told Darthea of his love, she insisted that she did not love him.
Meanwhile, Hugh’s parents were abroad. During their absence, he stayed with Gainor Wynne. Claiming that the time was not far off when he would need such a skill, she urged him to take fencing lessons....
(The entire section is 1208 words.)
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