Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Left an orphan, lovely Zuleika Dobson becomes a governess. Because the older brothers of her charges always fall in love with her, however, she loses one position after another. She moves unhappily from job to job until one enamored elder son teaches her a few simple magic tricks. She then becomes an entertainer at children’s parties, where she interests older men if not the children. Before long, she receives an offer to go on the stage, and during a lengthy European stage tour, she crowns success with success. Paris raves over her. Grand dukes ask her to marry them. The pope issues a bull against her. A Russian prince has some of her magic devices, such as the demon egg cup, cast in pure gold. Later, she travels to the United States and is pursued by a fabulous millionaire. Zuleika, however, ignores her admirers. She wants to find a man who is impervious to her charms, feeling that with someone like that she could be happy.
Between theatrical seasons, Zuleika visits her grandfather, the Warden of Judas College at Oxford, where, as usual, every man who sees her falls in love with her. One night, joining Zuleika and her grandfather at dinner is the wealthy, proud, handsome duke of Dorset. He, too, falls in love with Zuleika at first sight, but his pride and good manners keep him from showing his true feelings. During dinner, he is only casually attentive and on one occasion actually rude. Zuleika is captivated. Thinking that the duke does not love her,...
(The entire section is 1164 words.)
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