The Hamptons live an Edenic life on their plantation the western North Carolina. Mrs. Hampton died young, but Mr. Hampton has had the pleasure of watching his children Walter and Norva grow to adulthood. The snake who enters this garden is Norva’s new husband Lawrence Hastings, a man she met in London. Hasting is lascivious and greedy, and his plot to seize the Hampton’s family’s wealth almost succeeds. The novel is thought to be set in Yancey County; the time is the early nineteenth century.
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