Short summary - The Quadroon: Or, A Lover's Adventures in Louisiana
Thomas Mayne Reid
The action takes place in the 1850s. in the United States of America, when slavery dominated the south of the country. The narration is conducted in the first person.
The hero, a young rich Englishman named Edward, comes to the United States in search of romance and stops in New Orleans, where for six months he leads a carefree, wild life, squandering a large sum of money. By the summer, he discovers that he has only 25 dollars left. To save himself from the yellow fever epidemic, he buys a ticket for a boat to St. Louis for some of this money, although he does not really know what means he will live there.
While waiting for the steamboat to leave, the hero sees preparations for the races, which are often organized for the purpose of advertising by «first-class» river steamboats. Passengers are already betting whether their boat will manage to overtake the rival, when suddenly a woman appears on the pier - a beautiful and rich creole who expresses a desire to sail on the boat, but on the condition that he will not participate in races. The captain gives his consent. On the things of the girl who are loaded onto the ship, the hero manages to read her name: Eugenie Besancon.
Suddenly, the «Beauty of the West», on which the hero floats, catches up with a rival steamboat, and the gambling creole agrees to the race. As a result, the steam boiler explodes, and the "Beauty of the West" begins to quickly sink to the bottom. The thrifty hero turns out to be the happy owner of a life belt, but, seeing the plight of the creole, gives the belt to her. Some wretch, wanting to take possession of the belt, wounds the hero in the arm, but he still manages to swim to the shore, where he loses consciousness. The hero comes to himself on the Creole estate, and in his darkened consciousness the image of a beautiful woman emerges, but this is not Eugénie.
The hero is looked after by a Negro named Scipio, or Zip. From him, the hero learns that the accident drowned Antoine, the manager of the estate and guardian of Mademoiselle Besancon. The second guardian of the girl is the cunning and insidious lawyer Dominic Gaillard. Scipio believes that the lawyer deceived the late father of Eugénie, gradually ruining him, and now ruining his daughter, allowing her to spend too much. The hero also learns that Gaillard lives near the estate, often with Eugénie and behaves as if he were the master here. It turns out that Zip received all this information from the quarterly Aurora, a slave and at the same time confidant Eugenie Besancon.
Soon, the hero is visited by Dr. Edward Reigart, accompanied by Gaillard. The latter insists that the hero be sent to a hotel, because his presence on the plantation can give rise to gossip, but the doctor forbids moving.
After a while, the hero meets Aurora, in which he learns his beautiful vision. Love flashes in his heart, but he realizes that on the way of this love there will be a lot of difficulties connected with the position of his beloved. Bedridden, the hero reads a lot, communicates with Zip, and keeps a diary. From a black man, he learns that a new overseer Larkin, nicknamed Bill the Bandit, has arrived at the plantation. He is known for his cruelty to blacks, and he is patronized by Gaillard.
The hero closely communicates with the doctor, who says that Gaillard has a great influence on Eugenie Besancon, and at one time the friendship of the lawyer with her father was more like a relationship between a creditor and a debtor.
Soon, the doctor allows the hero to go out. Taking advantage of this, Gaillard offers the hero to move to a hotel. Eugenie does not restrain him, and he, taking the money from the doctor, moves to the nearby town of Bringers.
He often visits the plantation and, by secret signs given by Aurora, he soon becomes convinced that the quarterwoman also loves him. He thinks hard how to free her and to connect his fate with her.
One day, while driving to Eugénie’s house, he learns that the apartment is alone, and hopes to be alone with her, but suddenly he hears voices from the house. This Gaillard, taking advantage of the absence of the mistress, secretly entered the plantation. He solicits the love of Aurora.
The girl gives him a decisive rebuff, and he is ready to take it by force, but the hero who burst into the room drives him away. He proposes to Aurora, and they begin to make plans for her release. Edward expresses his intention to redeem his beloved, but she doubts this possibility, hinting that the mistress herself is in love with him.
After parting with the bride, the hero travels through the Negro village, where he witnesses how Negro Bambara Gabriel tortures Scipio, It turns out that Zip was punished for daring to raise a hand against Larkin, who was trying to abuse his daughter. Edward drives Gabriel away, but then the overseer appears, in which the hero recognizes the wretch who injured him. He aims at the hero with a pistol, but the hero escapes by hitting him on the head with the handle of a whip.
Returning to the hotel, Edward discovers a check for two hundred pounds and decides to immediately settle with Eugenie the question of ransom of Aurora, but, learning about the hero’s love for a slave, the girl faints, thereby revealing her true feelings.
To tidy up his thoughts, Edward goes hunting the next day, where he is bitten by a rattlesnake. He is already ready to say goodbye to life, when he suddenly meets Gabriel in the forest, who has fled on the run. The black man heals the hero and opens him his refuge, showing the way to him. Returning to the hotel, Edward discovers that Gaillard, who owned a mortgage on the estate of Eugénie, has filed a foreclosure and has already entered into ownership. Thus, Eugénie was devastated and forced to go to New Orleans, where, according to rumors, her aunt lives. All blacks from the plantation should be auctioned shortly. The next day, the hero receives a letter from Eugénie, where she confesses her love and announces her intention to leave for the monastery.
Wanting to buy Aurora, the hero goes to New Orleans. Once on board the ship, he witnesses the farewell of lovers and in the girl recognizes Aurora. Tormented by jealousy, he tries to forget himself in wine, and after drinking, sits down to play whist, as it later turns out, with cheaters. He was saved from complete ruin by a young Creole, who introduced himself as Eugene d'Otville, - he fired two shots in the air and thus interrupted the game.
Hoping to get money to participate in the auction, Edward goes to Brown and Co. Bank, but the check he expected has not yet arrived, and the owner of the bank refuses his loan. Then the hero decides to try his luck at the gambling table, but is completely lost. Trying to support him, d'Otville also loses, although he puts everything at stake, right down to the expensive diamond ring. After an unsuccessful game, he promises the hero that he will try to help him.
Despite the lack of money, Edward still goes to the auction. He is already desperate to wait for d'Otville, but at the very last moment he appears with three thousand dollars. Edward enters the bidding, but he does not succeed in redeeming the Aurora - someone whom everyone considers Gaiar's frontman pays three and a half thousand for it.
Then the hero decides to steal the quarter from Gaillard’s estate and hide for a while in Gabriel’s shelter, but he doesn’t succeed: in the wake of the fugitives, they search for bloodhounds. Gaillard and Larkin are catching the hero, although he is desperately resisting, and they are about to take Aincha’s trial against him, when the sheriff appears, demanding that Edward appear before this court.
At the trial, Gaillard accuses him of trying to rebel the Besançon slaves, of inciting Gabriel to escape, of kidnapping Aurora, but then d'Otville appears, who gives the judge a free quartet and a document proving that Gaillard concealed the fifty thousand dollars owed to Eugénie Besancon on reaching adulthood, that is, in other words, stole them. It turns out that d'Otville is a disguised Eugénie. Her accusation is supported by the sudden appearance at the trial of Antoine, whom everyone considered dead. It turns out that he simply took the opportunity to hide for a while and secretly monitor the machinations of Gaillard.
Eugenie Besancon gets the estate back, which, however, does not save her from unrequited love. Dr. Reigart becomes a major landowner and prominent Louisiana legislator. Gaillard spends five years in prison, and then, according to rumors, returns to France, where his trace is lost. Larkin is also serving a term in prison. One of the cheaters who defeated Edward was killed in a duel, the other turns into a petty crook, the third dies of a tropical fever, and the hero lives peacefully and happily with a beautiful quarter.