Vanessa Paris, the beautiful daughter of Adam and Margaret Paris. She is engaged to her cousin Benjie, but because of his wildness, their marriage is postponed for two years. Her father’s death forces her to postpone it still longer. Learning that Benjie has married a woman whom he impregnated, Vanessa wishes him well and later marries a distant cousin, a respected financier. Her husband’s mind fails, however, and he plots to have Vanessa declared insane. Now nearly forty years old, she turns to Benjie, whose wife has left him. They live together happily for a time, until she learns that her husband’s mind has failed entirely and that he cries constantly for her. Vowing to return to her husband until his death, Vanessa goes back to London, but her husband becomes stronger and outlives her.
Benjie Herries, who is in love with Vanessa but is trapped into marriage by another woman. He alone of the Herries family remains unconventional: He loses an arm fighting the Boers; he serves with the Russians in World War I, even though he is more than sixty years old; and in his seventies, he lives a gypsy life in a caravan with one manservant.
Marion Halliday, who at her mother’s instigation goes to bed with Benjie. He marries her, but she later leaves him for another man.
Tom Herries, the son of...
(The entire section is 403 words.)