Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When Phineas Fletcher and his father, Abel, first see John Halifax, they are immediately struck with his honest face and behavior; although the boy is only fourteen years old and an orphan, he will accept help from no one. Instead, he prefers to make his own way, even though it means that he is always half-starved. Phineas is only sixteen years old and is disabled; he would have enjoyed having John for a companion, but Abel Fletcher, a wealthy Quaker, puts the boy to work in his tannery. Although Abel is a Christian and wants to help others, he knows that the boy will be better off if he helps himself. Then, too, there is a class distinction between Phineas and John that even Abel cannot entirely overlook.
Phineas and John become good friends; the orphan is the only friend Phineas ever loves as a brother. John rises rapidly in the tannery because of his honesty and his willingness to work at any job. He also has the ability to handle men, an ability ably proved when a hungry mob tries to burn down the Fletcher home and the mill that the Quaker owns. John arranges to have the workers get wheat for their families, and from then on, they are loyal to him through any crisis.
When they are in their early twenties, Phineas and John take a cottage in the country so that Phineas might have the advantage of the country air. While there, they meet a lovely girl, Ursula March, who took her dying father to the same spot. John is attracted to the modest...
(The entire section is 1107 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of John Halifax, Gentleman Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!