- Summaries (2)
1842, Orry Main leaves Mont Royal, the cotton plantation near Charleston (South Carolina) he's heir to, on his way to West Point for two years of officer's training. On the way he stops a runaway carriage, meets and falls in love with Madeline Fabray, who agrees to write to him. However she is moving from Atlanta with her father, Nicholas Fabray, who needs her to wed his rude neighbor, rich Resolute plantation owner Justin LaMotte. Fighting off scum trying to extort exorbitant porters wages, Orry meets fellow cadet George Hazard, son of a Pennsylvania machines manufacturer. The hazing lives up to its reputation, not in the least due to drill master Elkanah Bent. Georgian drillmaster Bent takes particular pleasure in humbling Ohio cadet Ned Fiske at sword-practice but is humiliatingly defeated by Carolinian Orry. Madeline no longer receives Orry's letters, so she become susceptible to Justin's generous courting. George and Orry decide to share their allowances with Fisk so he must not resign to run his sick dad's farm. Bent is so hell-bent on revenge that even saving his life during a demerit points-chase is cruelly 'rewarded'. Eighteen months later George introduces Orry to his Pennsylvania family, which takes to him, and their iron factory, run by dad William Hazard and eldest son Stanley. George's sister Virgilia is instantly hostile to the slave-holder, yet also attracted. Orry stops overseer Salem Jones happily whipping slave Priam, but father Tillet refuses either to sack the sadist or consider mechanizing, without which the plantation is doing badly.
On his way to take up his studies at West Point in 1842, Orry Main meets two people who will forever be a part of his life. Having just left his home, the plantation Mount Royal near Carleston S.C, he rescues the beautiful Madeline Fabray whose runaway carriage has overturned. Yjey take an instant liking to one another. On arrival at the academy, he meets George Hazard from Lehigh Valley, Pa. who will remain his lifelong friend. Life at the academy is difficult and in these pre-Civil War years and Orry comes face to face with abolitionists. Orry and George's real nemesis however is a senior cadet, Elkanah Bent, a cruel and relentless persecutor. Two years pass and the cadets get their first leave. Orry visits George's family and is impressed by the iron works they own. He also meets George's sister Virgilia, a rabid abolitionist who refuses to sit at the dinner table with him. On his trip home he learns that Madeline is to marry another local plantation owner, Justin Lamotte, He also learns why he hasn't received any letters from her. Lamotte is a cruel and violent man, as Madeline learns on her wedding night.
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