The Unknown Ajax
is a Regency romance
novel by Georgette Heyer
. The story is set in 1817.
Hugo Darracott, an enormous figure of a young man, arrives at Darracott Place in Sussex to find his family waiting: his grandfather, Lord Darracott; his uncle, Matthew, a politician, his wife, Lady Aurelia and their sons Vincent and Claud; and his uncle Rupert's widow Elvira and her children Anthea and Richmond. They are, it is immediately apparently, expecting "a fellow who eats off his knife": that is, a working-
or at best lower middle-
man. Hugo obligingly applies a Yorkshire accent and looks gormless.
Lord Darracott puts pressure on his older grandchildren, Vincent, Anthea and Claud, to educate Hugo. He discourages Hugo from much contact at all with Richmond, who is young and army-mad - Richmond is Lord Darracott's favourite, and his grandfather has no desire to see him leave Darracott Place. All three of the older grandchildren oblige: Vincent because his grandfather bribes him financially, Claud because he is a dandy
and wishes to be influential, and Anthea to ease her grandfather's bullying of her mother.
It rapidly becomes apparent to Hugo that things are not all quite straight-forward at Darracott Place; among other things he is disconcerted at the positive attitude towards smuggling
that his family display. He is also unimpressed at the financial status of the family: while the lands... Read More