Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
The Vanstone house at Combe Raven was one of contentment and ease. In it were Andrew Vanstone and his wife, their two lovely and charming daughters—Norah and Magdalen—and a wise, kindly nurse and governess, Miss Garth. It was a household in which cook and servants enjoyed immunity from scolding, pets were allowed to range freely, and the affairs of the house ran as smoothly as an old but trustworthy clock.
One morning, Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone broke the quiet routine of the household with the announcement that they must go immediately to London on urgent but secret business. This announcement came after the arrival of a letter postmarked New Orleans. They were gone for almost a month. On their return, they refused to reveal by any statement or hint the nature of their trip.
Shortly after their return, a stranger made his appearance in the neighborhood. The girls learned only that his name was Captain Wragge and that he was distantly connected with Mrs. Vanstone’s family. She sent him away without revealing to her husband the circumstances of his arrival or departure. It was apparent that Captain Wragge was attempting to obtain money from his kinswoman.
The Vanstones had an eccentric and surly neighbor, Mr. Clare, a scholar and cynic who frequently asserted that he hated most of mankind. Frank, his son, had been the childhood playmate of Magdalen Vanstone, and Mr. Vanstone had secured a position for him in a commercial house in...
(The entire section is 1394 words.)
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