Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
On returning home after three years of travel, Vandome was greeted with two pieces of bad news. First, he heard that his friend Marcellina, the wife of Count Vaumont, had gone into voluntary exile: shutting herself in her curtained chamber, she had resolved never again to be seen in the light. This unusual behavior had been her response to the unjust accusations of her husband. Before Vandome left on his travels, Marcellina had carried on with him a circumspect and perfectly acceptable platonic affair. When he left, she had spoken of him with such passion that Vaumont had been filled with jealousy and had asserted that the relationship went beyond the purely spiritual. Vaumont later realized that he had made an error, but it was too late to dissuade Marcellina from her action.
Vandome’s second piece of bad news concerned the equally eccentric behavior of the Count St. Anne. St. Anne’s wife, who was Vandome’s sister, had died. His devotion to her was so great that he refused to have the corpse buried. Instead, he had her body embalmed and placed in a chair in his chamber. With sad music playing in the background, he was weeping out his life at her feet. When Vandome learned of these problems, he determined to find solutions.
Forcing his way past the servants, he entered Marcellina’s chamber. He called her course of action stupid and implored her to abandon it, but she was unmoved and refused to answer him. Sharing her isolation was her...
(The entire section is 1111 words.)
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