Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The marquis of Ravenel, who is an enthusiastic patron of the baths at Enval, persuades his young daughter Christiane and her husband, William Andermatt, to join him there. On the advice of one of the doctors at the spring, Christiane agrees to take a series of baths, internal and external, in the hope that they will cure her childlessness. When the young couple arrive, they are joined by Christiane’s spendthrift brother, Gontran, and his friend Paul Brétigny, who has come to the country to recover from a disappointing love affair. During their stay, they learn that Father Oriol, a wealthy peasant landowner of the district, is planning to blast out a huge rock that hinders the cultivation of one of his fields, and they all go to watch the event.
To everyone’s surprise, a spring comes gushing from the ground after the explosion. Andermatt decides that if the water is of medicinal value he will make Oriol an offer for it, for he hopes to build an establishment that will give the existing baths heavy competition. That same evening, Andermatt, accompanied by Gontran, goes to the Oriol house and places his proposal before the peasant.
Oriol, who is quite skilled in bargaining, decides that he will have to be careful not to ask too much for the spring and the fields around it; on the other hand, he does not want to let the possibility of obtaining great wealth slip from his grasp. To inflame Andermatt’s desire, he engages a beggar named Clovis...
(The entire section is 1653 words.)
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