Plot Synopsis of The Banks of the Douro. A Novel by Emily Clark.
This novel is set in Portugal near the river Douro. The story begins when a mysterious gentlewoman asks two Spanish peasants to look after a baby for a few days. The peasants take the baby to Lady Archdale who says she will pay them to look after the baby for a year and then she will take her in to her household. The baby is christened Amelrosa de Merida by Lady Archdale who is renowned for her charity to the poor. By the time she is fifteen Amelrosa's beauty captivates all who meet her. Amelrosa enjoys the company of Don Fernando who has a castle at Almaraz. He is the son of Don Rodrick. Don Fernando secretly resolves never to marry Amelrosa until she has proved her virtue. He had left England with the pretty but revengeful Mrs. Marley who unbeknown to him is seeing a rich Portugese man named Zamara. In his youth Zamara had refused to marry a girl that he got pregnant so his mother took her in. The child is the heiress to Zamara's uncle's fortune. Fernando accompanies Amelrosa and Lady Archdale to a ball which Zamara relates to Mrs. Marley. He promises to write to Don Rodrick to tell him that his son is showering attention on a destitute young woman who was the mistress of Lady Archdale's late son Edmund. Amelrosa worries that Fernando will renounce her if he finds out that her birth might have been disgraceful. Lady Archdale bans Fernando from seeing Amelrosa when he questions her honour which delights Mrs. Marley. At a ball Amelrosa is tricked in to believing that Lady Archdale is seriously ill and is abducted when she gets in to a carriage with a man she believes is a family friend. She is taken to a Moorish palace in the Forest of Arvilla which her captors tell her is haunted. Captain Montague Glenholme and his sister Emmeline seek shelter at the castle during a storm. Amelrosa recognises Montague but is banished to her room until the strangers have gone. Out in the castle grounds, Amelrosa finds a locket containing a portrait of Glenholme which she ties around her neck for safekeeping. Glenholme discloses himself to her from bushes where he is hiding. He has been waiting to see her so he can help her escape from the banditti. Emmeline is waiting for him at the Convent of St.Magaretta. After days of walking out of the forest Amelrosa's plans of escape are dashed when they are caught by the banditti who leave Glenholme for dead and return Amelrosa to the Moorish palace. Amelrosa had formed a strong attachment to Glenholme and they had talked of marriage. Amelrosa is convinced that her lover is dead.
Amelrosa sees a figure in the Eastern tower but Beatrice is reluctant to tell Jacome because she fears her son will mock her for believing in ghosts. During a storm a figure wearing a long black cloak breaks in to the sleeping Amelrosa's apartment and plunges a dagger in to her chest. Amelrosa emits a piercing scream and then faints. However, Amelrosa is not dead, she has been saved by the locket which shattered when the dagger plunged in to it. Her captor, Jacome says he will pretend she is dead and help her to escape. At the Convent of St. Ignatius Amelrosa meets with a friar who takes her to the city of Oporto. Lady Archdale's house is boarded up because she has gone to live in England with her daughter, Julia, whose husband she fears is mistreating her. In London Amelrosa finds Lady Archdale's health is deteriorating but Mrs. Denham her housekeeper still advises Amelrosa to go and enjoy herself. Amelrosa lodges with Mrs.Stanhope and her vain daughter Catherine who live life in a whirlwind of social occasions and do not even rise until mid afternoon. Amelrosa receives a letter from her beloved Glenholme who was looked after by a peasant in the forest and is now in Oporto. Amelrosa decides to wait until Lady Archdale is better before travelling back to Portugal. She befriends a French woman, Minette de Luneville, whose family have sought refuge in England from the French Revolution. Lady Archdale promises to remember Amelrosa handsomely in her will. While out in London Amelrosa happens to glimpse a pregnant Minette who has been forced to hide from her family because of her pregnancy. Amelrosa realises Minette must have married beneath her or fallen victim of seduction.
The 'gentleman' has promised to pay for Minette's upkeep. Glenholme has managed to get leave from the army and desperate to see Amelrosa bursts in to the room where she has just fainted in to the arms of Lord Conrade. Lord Conrade was at Minette's because he is the father of her unborn child. In a fit of jealousy he pushes her away and she bangs her head. When Catherine Stanhope found out that Amelrosa was going in to the same house that Lord Conrade visited she thought that they were romantically involved and told Glenholme so when he called at Amelrosa's lodgings. Catherine was jealous because she liked Lord Conrade. Lady Archdale dies leaving Amelrosa one hundred pounds that she can get in six months. Amelrosa goes to stay with Lucy Heartwell's family in the country to save what meagre finances she has left. Lucy is a servant at the Stanhope's with whom Amelrosa has become friendly. Amelrosa settles in at the farm and becomes a governess. Her host, Farmer Heartwell tells Amelrosa of Lord Rossmore who he is valet for. Lord Rossmore's father refused to accept that Elmira, Lord Rossmore's pregnant wife, had wealth. He prevented Rossmore from going back to Portugal for eight months in which time Elmira had a baby girl. Rossmore was told that the baby had died and shortly after Elmira was forced to marry a nobleman. Amelrosa meets Rossmore and as they spend a lot of time together Amelrosa begins to see him like a parent. Out walking one day, Amelrosa recognises Minette's servant carrying a child and asks her to take her to see her old friend. Lord Conrade has seen the error of his ways and arrives to marry the mother of his child. Minette is dying and so they are married at her bedside. Amelrosa travels to London after the funeral of Minette. Two weeks later she meets Lord Rossmore and tells him her story. He believes that she is his child and that she will be able to claim the fortune that his uncle possesses. Through a series of chance meetings his hopes are confirmed and Amelrosa's former captors, Beatrice and Jacome, voluntarily become her servants. Zamara owned the Moorish palace where Amelrosa was taken and he had wanted to inherit the fortune that was rightfully hers. Zamara is her uncle and he is the shadowy figure that tried to murder her. The heroine marries Glenholme.