The dialog is Early Modern English, somewhat similar to Shakespeare's writings, not contemporary English but similar enough to be understood.The narration is almost modern English, easily understood.
An English soldier, Ralph Percy, turned Virginian explorer in Jamestown colony, buys a wife -- a girl named Jocelyn Leigh -- not knowing that she is the escaped ward of King James I, fleeing a forced marriage to Lord Carnal. Jocelyn has no love for Ralph at first; she even seems to abhor him and explains she only married to have refuge after she fled from England, under an assumed name. Lord Carnal, Jocelyn's husband-to-be, eventually comes to Jamestown to find his promised bride, not knowing that Ralph Percy and Jocelyn Leigh are already man and wife.
Lord Carnal attempts to kidnap Jocelyn several times and eventually follows Ralph, Jocelyn, and their two companions, as they escape from the King's orders to arrest Ralph and carry Jocelyn back to England.
This romance-epic-adventure novel carries the reader along with humor, shipwreck, pirates, entrapment, false accusations, trial, colonial conflict with Native Americans, capture, rescue, suicide, salvation, love, happy ending -- what more could one want?
(Reference: Wikipedia, LibriVox)
The editor of this Feedbooks edition has provided a few footnotes to explain the less familiar words and some of the historical names as an aid to the reader. Using an eBook reader with a built-in dictionary may also help, but isn't essential to enjoyment of the story.
A free audio-book of this novel is available from LibriVox.org.
Behind the town a downward sloping wood tied the castle hill to fields and meadows. The small river Wander ran by these on its way to join the greater stream. Up the Wander, two leagues or so, in a fertile vale couched the Abbey of Silver Cross. Materially speaking, a knot of stone houses for monks—Cistercians, White Monks—a stately stone house for God and his Son and Mary; near-by a quite unstately hamlet, timber, daub and thatch, grown haphazard by church and cloister; many score broad acres, wood and field, stream and pasture, mill, forge, weirs, and a tenant roll of goodly length,—such was Silver Cross. So far as physical possessions went what in this region Montjoy did not hold Silver Cross did and what the two did not hold Middle Forest had managed to wrest from them in Henry Sixth’s time. Silver Cross had, too, immaterial possessions. But once she had been wealthier here than she was now. That time had been even with a time of material poverty. Now she had goods, but she did not have so much sanctity. Yet there were values still, marked with that other world’s seal; it is useless to doubt that.
The thorn in Silver Cross’ flesh was not now Montjoy nor Middle Forest, with both of whom she had for years lived in amity. The thorn was the Friary of Saint Leofric—Dominican—across the river from Middle Forest, but tied to it by the bridge, holding its lands well away from Montjoy and Silver Cross, but rival nevertheless, with an eye to king’s favour, cardinal’s favour, and bidding latterly, with a distinctness, for popular favour. That was the wretched, irritating thorn, likely to produce inflammation! Prior Hugh of Saint Leofric—ah, the ambitious one!
The town was the county-seat. Red brick and white pillars, set on rising ground and encircled by trees, the court house rose like a guidon, planted there by English stock. Around it gathered a great crowd, breathlessly listening. It listened to the reading of the Botetourt Resolutions, offered by the President of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and now delivered in a solemn and a ringing voice. The season was December and the year, 1860.
It was reasonable that I should find the day gray.
Study and study and study, year on year, and at last image a great thing, just under the rim of the mind's ocean, sending up for those who will look streamers above horizon, streamers of colored and wonderful light! Study and reason and with awe and delight take light from above. Dream of good news for one and all, of life given depth and brought into music, dream of giving the given, never holding it back, which would be avarice and betraying! Write, and give men and women to read what you have written, and believe—poor Deluded!—that they also feel inner warmth and light and rejoice.