Title Information At the Circulating Library

Author and Title: Rev. James Pycroft. Dragon's Teeth

First Edition: London: L. Booth, 1863. 2 volumes, post 8vo., 21s.

Summary: In his preface, Pycroft calls his tale a "literary Mosaic tesselated with Facts." The novel focuses on the twin sons of Thomas Walford, a retired businessman who buys a country house then marries. Thomas dies shortly after, leaving a pregnant widow to raise the twins Edward (Ned) and Nathaniel (Nat). Ned, destined to inherit the estate, grows up pampered and indulged, attends a lax tutor for his education, and enrolls in Oxford after cramming with the dubious Tom Snipe. Meantime, Nat attends Eton, receives a comprehensive education, becomes a gentleman, and goes into law to make his own way in the world. At Oxford, Ned runs with a fast set: enabled by his wealth and mentored by Snipe, he gambles, sports, drinks, and neglects his studies. This life culminates with Ned proposing to elope with a bar maid Alice—caught, Ned is rusticated and breaks off contact with Alice. A subplot focuses on the jilted Alice and her return to her sister Hannah, who works as a lady's companion for Mrs. Belmont. Freed of Alice, who he cold-heartedly pays fifty pounds, Ned throws himself in to a dissolute life resulting in an illegitimate child who lives in poverty. Snipe returns to help Ned pursue a rich heiress Miss Lindsay—her inheritance requires her husband to settle 10,000 on her, which Ned gladly does. After the marriage, Miss Lindsay reveals her true identity as Hannah, the now avenged sister of Alice. The marriage is passed off as a fraud and Ned returns to the country where he marries Lucy, the daughter of a neighbor. Years pass in rustic tranquillity, until Ned is called upon to sentence a murderer who turns out to be his own illegitimate child grown up a thief, and Hannah returns one last time to reveal Ned's crimes. A chastened Ned lives out the rest of his life reflecting on his folly. The twists of the plot give the author much space to moralize on the ramifications of a sinful life.

References: EC