The Conscious Lovers Summary
by Richard Steele

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The Conscious Lovers Summary

In The Conscious Lovers by Richard Steele, two couples attempt to marry the person they truly love despite parental opposition and misunderstandings.

Bevil is in love with Indiana, who lost her father and then the rest of her family during a trip. He's paying her bills and waiting for his father to agree that he can marry her; his father doesn't want him to marry a woman with an unknown background and no family. He wants Bevil to marry Lucinda Sealand. Mr. Sealand isn't so sure about the match anymore, though, because he knows about Indiana and believes that Bevil is intending to keep her as his mistress.

Bevil and Lucinda are engaged; they both agree that they don't want to be married. He has actually given her permission to break off the engagement later. Bevil's friend Myrtle wants to marry Lucinda. Lucinda is in danger of marrying another man, Cimberton, who is wealthy and eccentric, if her marriage with Bevil ends.

At one point, Myrtle is so confused and concerned that he accuses Bervil of being less-than-honest and perhaps preventing Lucinda and Myrtle from being together. Bevil gets upset for a moment but wisdom prevails and he shows him a letter from Lucinda where she expresses gratitude for Bevil's permission to end the engagement. The two continue to try to thwart the ambitions of Mr. Sealand and Cimberton. Myrtle even disguises himself as Cimberton's relative.

When Mr. Sealand goes to visit Indiana and find out the truth of her relationship with Bevil, he discovers that she's his lost daughter. He changed his name in the past to escape certain troubles. He's happy to have found her and their relationship is confirmed by her aunt. He agrees to let her marry Bevil and to split his estate between Indiana and Lucinda. Cimberton doesn't want to marry Lucinda if she's only getting half the estate; Bevil requests that Myrtle and Lucinda be allowed to marry and Mr. Sealand agrees.

Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Young Bevil, a gentleman of some fortune, is engaged to marry the daughter of Mr. Sealand. Although he is not in love with the woman, he agrees to marry her at his father’s request. On the day of the marriage, however, there is some doubt that the marriage will take place, for the bride’s father discovers that Bevil is paying the bills of a young woman he brought back from France. Fearing that the young woman, called Indiana, is Bevil’s mistress, Mr. Sealand does not want his daughter to marry a man who keeps another woman.

The father does not know that Bevil sent a letter to Lucinda Sealand that gives her his permission to break off the marriage at that late date. Bevil did so because he knows that Lucinda is really in love with his friend, Mr. Myrtle, and because he himself wants to marry Indiana. After the letter is sent, Sir John’s valet tells young Bevil that the marriage will probably be broken by Mr. Sealand. Bevil then confides in the servant that Indiana is the daughter of the British merchant named Danvers, who disappeared in the Indies soon after the ship in which Indiana, her mother, and her aunt were traveling to join him was captured by French privateers.

Myrtle then arrives at Bevil’s apartment and tells his friend that a third marriage arrangement is in the wind that day. Mrs. Sealand is trying to wed her daughter to Mr. Cimberton, a queer fellow with peculiar ideas about wives and a great deal of money; Mrs. Sealand is willing to overlook strange notions in favor of the fortune her daughter might marry. The only thing that prevents the marriage contract from being settled that day is the nonappearance of Cimberton’s wealthy uncle. Bevil suggests to Myrtle that he and Bevil’s servant Tom, an artful rascal, disguise themselves as lawyers and go to the Sealand house in an attempt to prevent the marriage or, at least, to find out what can be done to keep the contract from being signed.

Meanwhile Indiana’s aunt cautions her against the attentions of Bevil. The aunt cannot believe, despite Indiana’s reports of Bevil’s behavior,...

(The entire section is 1,368 words.)