Synopsis

Mr Stuart receives a letter from Jack, informing him that he has accepted a post in Burma.  He pays them a visit before his departure.  It is the day before Henrietta’s wedding and they share an emotional interlude during which they declare their undying love for one another.  Their moment culminates in a passionate kiss, an action heartily defended by the narrator.  Henrietta wants Jack to release her from the fate that awaits her, but the knowledge that her can offer her little materially means that he must resist.  He says that he must leave her, but that he will stay true to her, and theirs will be a spiritual union.  They part, distraught.

Jack is grateful for the distraction of being in Burma.  Henrietta still dominates his heart, however, and he barely notices other women.  He is distressed to learn that Rowney has left Leofric for a lord, thus sinking even lower in society’s estimation.  Another letter informs him that Henrietta’s husband has died of cholera.  He struggle not to feel great joy at this development, but listening to a tale of lost love from a missionary convinces him that he must act soon if he doesn’t want to lose her again.

On the sea voyage home he is surprised to meet Winifred Balchin, who is working onboard the ship.  He asks her whether Leofric is the father of her child; although she refuses to answer, her face says it all.

Henrietta is overjoyed to discover that Jack loves her still and that he has proposed marriage.  Conversely, Leofric’s fortune is in the descendent, as he is discharged from the army for embezzlement.  He falls ill and Winifred comes to nurse him through the worst of it.

Henrietta’s parents are surprised to learn that Jack has declared his love for her, but give their wholehearted support for the relationship, consenting to her speedy re-marriage.  She writes to Jack, accepting his proposal and urging him to an early wedding.  She eagerly anticipates his response so they can plan their life together.  She is devastated to receive a letter informing her that Jack has died from jungle fever.  In his last hours, he asks his companion to bequeath some money to Leofric so he can divorce Rowney and marry Winifred.  He final words are of Henrietta, as he clutches her letter to his breast.

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