Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
In the year 1730, Francis Herries brought his family from the roistering life of Doncaster to live in a long-deserted family house—called Herries—at Rosthwaite not far from Keswick in Cumberland. In addition to his wife and three children, he brought along the most recent of his many mistresses, Alice Press, who, under pretense of being the children’s governess, had actually been unkind and overbearing with them and insolent to their mother. The family rested for a period at the Keswick Inn and met Francis’ oldest brother and his wife. After an uncomfortable journey on horseback over a scarcely discernible road, the party reached Herries.
Francis Herries had led a life of dissipation. His respectable relatives, of whom there were a great many, looked on him as the black sheep of the family and avoided him. He had married his wife Margaret more for pity than for love, but she had brought him some money. The one person whom Francis really loved was his son David, and David returned his love.
One day Francis, now tired of Alice Press, came upon her berating his wife. Although he did not love Margaret, he loved Alice less. He tried from that day to make Alice leave the house, but she refused. When he took David to Keswick to a fair, they saw Alice Press. Francis was furious and told Alice that she must not return to Herries. At last, he began to shout, announcing that Alice was for sale. People were shocked and astounded. Then a man threw...
(The entire section is 1190 words.)
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