Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
When James Fraser fell in love with Stewart Prevost, he loved her in a hopeless way. He was the son of a poor farmer who lived in the swamps of North Carolina, and Stewart was the daughter of Colonel Prevost, a gentleman planter. Although Colonel Prevost was always courteous and friendly with the Frasers, his friendliness was reserved; James knew that he must keep his place.
James loved his father and mother, both hard-working, God-fearing people who toiled endlessly with meager reward. He felt, however, that he must somehow rise above their station in life, that he must gain an equal footing with the planters and other gentlemen toward whom he was forced to show a servile attitude. On nights when he was filled with despair and confusion, he slipped out of the house and played his fiddle. Into his music, he could pour his dreams without fear of ridicule.
James first saw Stewart when he delivered a load of wood to her father. She said only a few words in greeting, but to James the words were as beautiful as the ringing of bells. During the next weeks, he saw her often; it seemed to him that she was always on the road leading to the plantation as he passed with a load of wood. When he was alone, he cursed himself for a fool; no girl in Stewart’s position would purposely seek out an awkward, uncouth farm boy. He swore to himself that he would avoid her. At last, Stewart began to talk with him about life. When he told her that he would like to...
(The entire section is 1193 words.)
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