Short summary - The Monastery: a Romance
Having received a small inheritance, the retired captain Clatterbuck settles in the village of Kennakweir in southern Scotland. Out of boredom, he is interested in the ruins of an old village monastery, which attract visitors to the village. Having studied its history and architecture, the captain becomes a local guide.
Once a monk of the Order of St. Benedict, who has more complete and accurate information about the monastery, turns to him for help. The monk wants to get from the ruins a sacred relic for him - the heart of his distant relative buried in the monastery, and transfer the relics to another place. In gratitude for the help, the monk gives the captain a manuscript of the 16th century.
Clutterbuck does not master the manuscript and gives it to the author of this novel, who remade it in a modern way.
The King of Scotland, David I, establishes the monastery of St. Mary in the village of Kennakweir. By handing over the land at the border to the monks, the monarch was able to somehow preserve his possessions, since the property of the monks was inviolable. But this immunity was violated by the war between England and Scotland, and the lands of the monasteries began to be attacked by enemies. Now in each church settlement there was a tower in which one could take refuge at the slightest alarm.
In the small village of Glendarg stands a lonely tower. The settlement itself is located in a secluded, hidden from the eyes of the area, and legends circulate about it, as if creatures from the other world live there. The owner of the tower was killed in the battle, and now his widow Elspeth Glending lives with two young sons and several farm laborers in the tower. The monks (their patrons were expelled by the British) and the Scots were forced to submit to the conquerors. The captain of the punitive squad arriving at the tower accepts the widow's statement of submission and undertakes to ensure the safety of the tower residents.
Not far from the settlement lives Lady Evenel, the widow of a descendant of a noble family who died in one of the partisan attacks. The Evenel family lost their lands and owned only one estate near the monastery. It was believed that this family is patronized by the spirit under the guise of a White Lady. After the death of her husband, fearing revenge from the British, the widow with her daughter Mary lived in a small shepherd’s hut. Hearing that Elspeth Glending received protection, the widow and daughter, having taken a shepherd and his wife, went to the tower, hoping to settle there. The baron's wife must now seek refuge from the church vassal.
When the situation in the country improved, Lady Evenel wanted to return home, but could not. Her husband’s younger brother, Julian, has appropriated the property of their family. Knowing that this person leads a stormy and dissolute life, participates in all attacks and robberies, is capable of anything, Lady Evenel constantly feared for the life of her daughter, the legitimate heiress of the Evenel family.
Five years have passed. Lady Evenel's health was so shaken that she had to be sent for a monk from the monastery of St. Mary. Elspeth told the holy father, the sacristy of the monastery of Philip, that she had not met a woman who would lead a more exemplary life than the confessor. She also said that Lady Evenel constantly reads a thick black book with clasps, which greatly interested the monk. Seeing the tome, the holy father was horrified: it was a scripture written in simple folk language. Such a book cannot be in the hands of the laity!
Leaving Elspeth, who was now tormented by conscience that she had betrayed a person close to her, the monk hurries to the monastery to inform the abbot that he found a copy of the dangerous book. The road is blocked by a river. On the shore, he sees a crying girl who speaks a language incomprehensible to him. The holy father decides to help a beautiful stranger, but during the crossing the girl pushes him from the saddle into the river, dips him several times in ice water and disappears with the book.
The abbot of the monastery of St. Mary Boniface, with his right hand, Father Eustathius, worries about the monk Phillip, who is brought by the miller Khob. In general terms, the monk tells the abbot about his visit to the widow, but the poor fellow is clearly not in himself: he sings and laughs all the time. The abbot decides that the holy father, helping the miller’s cute daughter to cross to the other side, allowed himself a little extra and the girl, defending her honor, bought him in the river. To avoid attacks on the order, the abbot ordered Philip to remain silent about what had happened. Father Eustathius was interested in the scripture written in the folk language. He wants to get a forbidden tome, but the book is lost. Father Eustathius decides to appear in person at the Glendaarg Tower.
The monk is met by Mrs. Elspeth. She is worried about the health of Lady Evenel: she’s so bad that she cannot reach tomorrow. But the most amazing thing is that the children at the stream saw a crying woman in white. When they approached her, she disappeared, and in the place where she was sitting, lay the book of Lady Evenel. Upon reflection, Father Eustathius concludes that the disappeared woman is the miller's daughter. He decides to ask Lady Evenel about the mystery of the book, but late - she went into another world. The Holy Father takes the book with him, and in return gives the children a prayer book with pictures.
At that moment, a horseman arriving in the tower, armed from head to toe - the envoy of Lord Julian, Christy. He brings a bull from his master as a present to a widow. Lord Evenel, hearing that his daughter-in-law was dying, decided to celebrate the funeral feast in the monastery. He sent a messenger to the monastery to warn of his arrival, but since one of the monks is in the tower, let the holy father do it.
The messenger remains in the tower to rest, and the holy father with the book goes home. On the way over the priest’s ear, a melodic female voice suddenly sounds, demanding that the book be returned. Father Eustathius sets off to where the sound came from, but an invisible force kicks him out of the saddle. Waking up, he sees that the book has disappeared. With the firm intention to tell how the book disappeared, even exposing itself to ridicule, the holy father goes home.
In the monastery, Eustathius is joyfully greeted, since Christie was arrested there, boastfully recounting how he wounded the monk with a spear to clean his pockets, but a woman in white robes prevented him. Out of fear, he galloped to the monastery to repent, where he was arrested. Father Eustathius releases Christie and gives him his golden cross, for which Christy was ready to kill the monk. The cross should direct Christy's lost soul to the righteous path.
Several years have passed. The book of Lady Evenel haunts Eustathius and he wants to find out what kind of mysterious spirit promotes the spread of heresy and at the same time protects the ministers of the Catholic Church. He often visits the Glendaurg Tower, giving lessons to its young inhabitants. He likes Eduard Glending, he wants this extremely capable young man to devote his life to serving the church. But the mother wishes that he was engaged in farming, managing the estate. Unlike his younger brother, Halbert is immune to learning, he is more interested in hunting and military affairs. Both brothers vie for the attention of the lovely Mary Evenel. To win the girl’s attention, Halbert in the gorge of mountain cliffs evokes the spirit. He asks for the return of Lady Evenel's book, which Mary is so mourning. Under the guise of a White Lady, the spirit promises to help if Halbert studies diligently. The spirit leads the young man into an underground cave, in the midst of which in a fire lies a treasured book. The white lady helps Halbert pull the book out of the flames that Halbert hides at home.
On the same day, Miller Hob arrives on business with his daughter Miesy on business. Since the beautiful girl has a good dowry, Elspeth decides that she is quite suitable as a wife for her eldest son Halbert. Also, Christy arrives in the tower, accompanied by an elegant brave dandy. They intend to stay in the tower for several days. Christie brings two letters: one from Uncle Mary Baron Evenel, and the second from the abbot of the monastery of St. Mary asking for hospitality. Christie's companion, Sir Pearce Shafton, honors with conversation only Mary Evenel, to whom the girl shows complete indifference. But dandy makes an impression on the miller's daughter.
In the morning it turns out that Christie has disappeared. Sir Pearce refuses to give Halbert any explanation. Because of Mary's attention, a quarrel erupts between them, during which the guest insults Halbert. At this moment, the abbot arrives in the tower with the sacristy Philip and assistant Eustathius.
Sir Pearce, alone with the abbot and his assistant, pours out his soul. His cousin, Earl of Northumberland, organized a conspiracy to return to the fold of the Catholic Church, the kingdom seduced by heresy. But the reigning princess Elizabeth found out about him. The Earl of Northumberland reasoned that only one man should take the blame, and Sir Pearce took on this burden. To avoid the gallows, he went on the run, having received from his cousin a weighty wallet and two escorts. Fate brought Sir Pearce to Julian Evenel, who had ripped off the conspirator as sticky. Fortunately, the count sent to the monastery of St. Mary, where Sir Pearce must hide, chests with his dresses. Neither the abbot nor his assistant likes the rebel against the Queen of England and therefore, in order to avoid problems, they decide to leave Sir Pearce in the tower.
Halbert and the shepherd Martin go hunting for a deer for guests. Martin goes home with prey, and Halbert goes to the marshes for partridges. Having reached the gorge, he evokes the spirit of the White Lady. He wants to ask her the reason for the change in his mind. The young man no longer wants to think about war and hunting, he became ambitious and dreams of glory. Spirit replies that he fell in love with Mary Evenel. Spirit predicts Halbert rivalry, hatred and disastrous passion. So that he could defeat Pearce, the White Lady gives him a silver needle.
At a meal in honor of the arrival of distinguished guests, the abbot pays tribute to the delicious roast of deer. An important role was played by the art of the hunter, firing an arrow into the very heart of the animal and not spoiling the meat. The abbot proposes to appoint Halbert as a hunter. Having occupied this position, the young man in addition to a good salary will receive many benefits and privileges. But to the surprise of those present, Halbert refuses: his vocation is a military affair. In response to another insult to Pearce, Halbert shows the offender a silver needle. Pearce leaves the tower in horror. Now the abbot is terrified of the needle: if it is witchcraft, then a bonfire can wait for the young man. But Pearce soon returns, explaining his unexpected departure by the fact that he is prone to nervous attacks, but this explanation does not satisfy Father Eustathius.
Pearce and Halbert decide to meet in a remote place to find out the relationship in a duel. Halbert spends the night in heavy thought. If he loses in a deadly duel, then his family will suffer terrible grief, and in case of victory, the anger of Pearcy's relatives will fall on his family. The White Lady appears in front of the young man, who urges Halbert not to be afraid to shed blood.
Choosing a secluded place in the gorge, which was the beloved stay of the White Lady, the rivals are surprised to see a dug grave and a spade with a shovel lying next to it. Halbert realizes that this is the work of the spirit.
Both rivals are worthy of each other, but Halbert’s blow is fatal. Seeing that Pierce is still alive, Halbert rushes to seek help. Having brought in the place of the duel of the old pilgrim, Halbert sees a fresh grave, clotted blood on the grass and Pierce's jacket. Upon learning who Halbert's rival was, the stranger offered to trust him and go with him to the Evenel Castle, in which Lord Julian now resides. Only there can a young man be able to gain protection, since the abbot will cruelly avenge the murder of his supporter and guest. The stranger urges Halbert to order mass for the rest of Pearce’s soul, because he died without confessing, but Halbert has no money. Then the wanderer offers the young man to bring the abbot his head: for the murdered heretic, Henry Worden, a reward has been appointed and then the murder of Sir Pearce will be forgiven. But Halbert refuses, he will lead the traveler to the castle of Evenel, although staying there is also unsafe. Julian does not disdain anything to get the money.
Near the castle of Lord Julian travelers meets Christie. He leads them to the owner, who asks the guests about the reason for their arrival. Halbert, who said that he was going about his business to Edinburgh, Julian did not mind getting his retinue, and Henry Julian invites him to sit at the table next to him and his mistress, who is expecting a child. But Henry does not recognize such a relationship between a man and a woman without marriage. He demands that Julian unite with the woman by law. Julian sends Henry to prison. Seeing Henry's resilience, Halbert is imbued with an interest in his teachings.
Halbert is placed in a small closet near Henry's dungeon, which through a hole in the wall, transmits a letter to the young man for the head of the rider squad, which he will meet on the way to Edinburgh. Jumping out the window, Halbert escapes from the castle.
Meanwhile, they are preparing for dinner in the Glendaerg tower, cooking up delicious dishes for Sir Pearce, thinking that the guest and Halbert are hunting somewhere. But instead of them, Father Eustathius appears in the tower. With Mary Evenel, who had not left her room all day, a seizure suddenly occurred. The inhabitants of the tower unsuccessfully try to bring the girl to life, when suddenly Pierce Shafton appears in blood-stained clothes and holds the bottle to Mary’s nostrils. The girl regains consciousness and demands to drive the killer out of here. Pierce swears that he broke up with the safe and sound Halbert in the gorge and does not know anything about him. Mary, knowing that the young people were far from hunting, sent a shepherd Martin to follow them. Martin saw a fresh grave and blood on the grass. If Pierce is alive, then Halbert is killed. Piercey says a miracle happened the mortal wound healed and he was alive and well. Father Eustathius refuses to believe it. Pearcey wants to leave for Edinburgh, but the abbot must give permission for his departure. Edward is eager to avenge the death of his brother, women mourn Halbert, and Pierce is still in the tower under arrest.
The conversation of the monk and the knight was overheard by the daughter of miller Misi. The handsome cavalier sunk into the girl's soul and she decides to save him. At night, she sneaks into his room. Having dressed Pierce in women's clothing and outwitting the guard, she organizes the knight's escape. Pierce noticed the sentries and Mizi escaped with him, having previously locked her inhabitants in the tower so that they could not set off in pursuit of them. Now she cannot return home - the father will not forgive the daughter of her act. Get dressed in a men's suit Mizi goes with Pierce to distant lands.
In the tower, Mary Evenel mourns her lover. The ghost of the White Lady is trying to calm her. The spirit shows her the cache in which the mother’s book lies. While all the locals are trying to help the inhabitants of the tower go outside, Christy arrives at the tower with the news that Halbert is alive and well. Two more riders Julian Evenel come for him. They will bring Henry Worden to the tower to hand him over to the abbot.
Father Eustathius meets alone with the heretic Henry Warden. In vain they try to convince each other. Meanwhile, having searched the place of the duel and not having found the grave, Edward realizes that his brother is alive. Seeing how Mary took this news, the young man decides to devote himself to religion from unrequited love. He also tells the holy father that his companions, fearing the disappearance of the grave, fled, leaving him alone. Here the White Lady appears, guarding the Evenel family. She sings a song stating that the alleged dead is alive.
Father Eustathius returns to the monastery, taking Edward and Christie with him. He decides to leave Henry in the tower to save his life. Christie does not understand why Father Eustathius refuses such a gift as a heretic. Now the monastery cannot escape the raids of heretics, and the monastery is preparing for war.
Halbert meets a group of horsemen on the way to Edinburgh and gives them a letter of recommendation. The young man is brought to Earl Merry, son of King James V and brother of Mary Stuart. Upon hearing Halbert's tale, the Count takes him to his squad.
After some time, Earl Merry receives news that Sir Pearce Shafton is alive, so Halbert lied, but the Earl believes the young man. He also learns that Queen Elizabeth ordered the devastation of the monastery of St. Mary, and the abbot Boniface resigned. Now the abbot in the monastery is Father Eustathius. The commander of the abbot's army is Julian Evenel. Since the count is not profitable to fight on either side, he decides to keep the peace.
Having assembled the detachment, Helbert is moving on, but the battle has already begun. Near the monastery he sees the wounded and dead lying on the ground - the vassals of the monastery are broken. Most of all, Halbert fears for the fate of Edward. Julian Evenel, his mistress Katherine and Christy are dead. Next to Katherine is her baby crying.
On the battlefield there is a detachment of the Earl of Merry and a detachment of the British led by Earl of Foster. The British bring the prisoner, thinking that it is Pearce Shafton, but they are disguised as Misi. Opponents agree that Pierce will be expelled from Scotland. The British retire, and the Scots go to the monastery. Child Halbert gives Mizi.
Henry Worden arrives at the monastery. He reports that he introduced Mary Evenel to his faith, saved from evil spirits, and now he goes to Count Merry. Halbert also went to a different faith. Despite the social difference, Halbert wants to get married to Mary and now they will be given the castle of Evenelov. Sir Pearcey, who actually turns out to be the grandson of the cutter, will marry Miesy. Edward in the paternal tower calls the White Lady. Through tears, the spirit predicts that the union of Mary and Halbert will be fatal.