So we’ll go no more aroving
So late into the night,
Thought the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears it sheath,
And the soul outwears the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
This poem is at the beginning of the book which introduces us to the bosom friend of Lord Byron’s after his death. The story is told with excerpts from diaries, letters and private journals. It begins with a young barrister, Gerald Marston, who has taken a temporary job as a private detective to spy on Lord Ingersoll, a poet and contemporary of the Byron’s and the Shelley’s, who seems to be surrounded on all sides by suspicious deaths. Most recently that of his wife who was drowned after falling overboard during the night from their yacht. The weather had been rainy and somewhat windy, but not enough to cause real danger. But the inquest ruled the death was accidental. Ingersoll’s mother died by falling down the stairs at her home, breaking her neck and causing a fatal heart attack. Ingersoll, though not at home at the time, found his mother at the foot of the stairs. At the top of the stairs the carpet had been worn or possibly cut, causing her to catch her heel and tumble down. Ingersoll inherited a large sum upon her death. Most uncomfortable for Marston however, is the fact that the private detective just recently engaged in the same position which he now holds, has turned up dead as well, either from an accidental drowning or something more deliberate. Marston is spying on Ingersoll in Genoa, where Ingersoll’s illegitimate daughter, Diane Shelton, and her mother reside. Diane is to be taken by her father back to England and introduced to society so that she can find a husband with rank and title. To complicate matters more, George Marston falls head over heels in love with Diane which is rather difficult since he is spying on her father. No one knows if Ingersoll will be arrested when he returns to England due to the controversy surrounding him, yet he is willing to risk it for the sake of his daughter’s future.
This story is a bit complicated but is well told. At first it seems a sure thing that Lord Ingersoll is a very nasty piece of work, and Mr. Marston is doomed to lose his love if not his life. But as the narration proceeds many points of view come to light, not all of which are detrimental to the main character. This is a short book, just over 200 pages and is well worth the read, especially if you are a fan of Byron’s or Shelley’s.