Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Cavalier Philip Surry, who rode and fought under Prince Rupert in the English Civil War, escaped to Virginia when King Charles I was beheaded. Establishing a home, which he named Eagle’s-Nest, on the Rappahannock River below Port Royal, he enjoined in his will that the oldest son of the family in each generation should sign himself “Surry of Eagle’s-Nest.”
The present Surry, who had attended the Virginia Military Institute for one session and had studied law at the University of Virginia, was in Richmond in April, 1861, when the State Convention passed its ordinance of secession. One evening at the Capitol Square, he saw with rapture a beautiful girl, whose dropped handkerchief contained the initials, M.B. On another day, in Hollywood Cemetery, he witnessed by chance a duel between a tall, bronzed stranger named Mordaunt and Fenwick, the encounter ending when Mordaunt put a pistol bullet through Fenwick’s lungs. Surry left Richmond the proud recipient of a captain’s commission in the Provisional Army of Virginia, and in his new gray uniform, he rode toward Harper’s Ferry for duty under Colonel Jackson.
Losing his way in the Wilderness, which bordered the Rapidan River, he spent a night in a house where dwelt an insane woman in white, still possessing traces of youthful beauty, who was attended by her lovely young cousin, Violet Grafton, and by a harridan, Mrs. Parkins. Surprisingly there appeared at this house Fenwick, whose duel...
(The entire section is 1336 words.)
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