Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Foxehall is a bleak, remote manor house, and the family that owns it keeps to themselves. Rachel and Anna Foxe are content to live prim maiden lives, poverty-stricken remnants of a landed family. Judith Foxe, however, marries Long John O’Donnell, a secretive farmer. Judith is cut off with a dowry of five fields as a punishment for marrying beneath her station; for seventeen years, she does not see her sisters. The marriage is a good one for Long John. Poor as he is, he feels that Judith’s five fields were good pay for taking an unattractive wife. When their tenth child, Leo, is born, Rachel condescends to sponsor him. Afterward, it seems to Judith that Leo is her only true son. When her husband is near death, she is determined that Leo should be the heir.
James, the oldest son, works like a servant for his harsh father. As the oldest, he will inherit the home farm. Phil is next in line; by rights, he should have had the five fields. Long John obstinately refuses to make a will; as he grows weaker, however, Judith harries him into telling a lawyer how the property should be distributed. She also dresses Leo in Phil’s clothes and tricks her weak, dying husband into pointing to Leo as the heir to the five fields. By this act, James inherits only the heavily mortgaged home farm and the obligation to find husbands for his numerous sisters. Leo is given the five free fields, with Phil receiving only what James will share with him.
(The entire section is 1195 words.)
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