Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Rodolph, the grand duke of Gerolstein, a small German state, is a handsome young man in his thirties in 1838. Behind him lay a strange past. As a youth, he had been brought up in his father’s court by an evil tutor named Polidori, who had done his best to warp and confuse the young prince’s mind. Polidori had been urged on by the beautiful but sinister Lady Sarah Macgregor, who was told in her youth that she was destined someday to be a queen.
Sarah has decided that Rodolph, heir to a duchy, will be the perfect husband for her. With the aid of Polidori, she forces Rodolph into a secret morganatic marriage. In England, where she has fled, she gives birth to a daughter. Rodolph’s father is furious, and he has the marriage annulled. One day, after he threatens to kill his father, Rodolph is sent into exile. Before long, Sarah loses all interest in her child and pays her Paris lawyer, Jacques Ferrand, to find a home for the girl. Ferrand gives the child into the care of some unscrupulous child takers and, after a few years, writes to Sarah and says, falsely, that the child has died. Sarah forwards the letter to Rodolph.
Rodolph moves to Paris, where he amuses himself by roaming through the slums in disguise. Although he is strong, agile, and a fine fighter, the young duke is always followed by his faithful servant, Sir Walter Murphy. Together they ferret out the secrets and mysteries of Paris streets. One night, Rodolph chances to save a...
(The entire section is 1631 words.)
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