Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
After the death of his wife, Monsieur St. Aubert, a French aristocrat, takes his daughter on a trip in the Pyrenees. High on a mountain road, the St. Auberts meet a young nobleman dressed in hunting clothes. He is Valancourt, the younger son of a family with which Monsieur St. Aubert is acquainted. Joining the St. Auberts on their journey, the young man soon falls in love with eighteen-year-old Emily St. Aubert, and the girl feels that she, too, might lose her heart to him.
St. Aubert becomes gravely ill and dies in a cottage near the Chateau-le-Blanc, ancestral seat of the noble Villeroi family. After her father’s burial at the nearby convent of St. Clair, Emily returns to her home at La Vallée and, as her father had requested, promptly burns some mysterious letters. She finds a miniature portrait of a beautiful unknown woman among the letters. Since she was not told to destroy the portrait, she takes it with her when she leaves La Vallée to stay with her aunt in Toulouse.
Valancourt follows Emily to Toulouse to press his suit. After some remonstrance, the aunt gives her permission for the young couple to marry. A few days before the ceremony, the aunt herself marries Signor Montoni, a sinister Italian, who immediately forbids Emily’s nuptials. To make his refusal doubly positive, he takes Emily and her aunt to his mansion in Venice.
There, Emily and Madame Montoni are in unhappy circumstances, for it soon becomes apparent...
(The entire section is 1340 words.)
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