Uncle Silas is told from the account of Maud Ruthyn, an heiress living with her reclusive father, Austin Ruthyn. She learns about her uncle, Silas Ruthyn, and his past reputation marred by gambling and the apparent suicide of a man to which Silas owed a large gambling debt that occurred in a locked room in Silas’ residence.
In order to clear the Ruthyn name of the rumors of Silas’ past, Austin names Silas as Maud’s guardian through Austin’s will upon his death. Also noted in Austin’s will, Silas would inherit the fortune left to Maud should she die while under his ward. Maud befriends her cousin Millicent and quickly adjusts to life under Silas’ care, despite his often frightening demeanor. Although Silas has proclaimed that he’s a newly reformed Christian, Maud becomes increasingly suspicious of her uncle’s motives as life for her becomes increasingly unpleasant.
The story of Maud Ruthyn and her uncle Silas evolved through multiple iterations, beginning with the short story “A Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess” in 1839, before ultimately becoming the three-volume novel published in 1864. This ebook reproduces a revised, two-volume version released a year later.