Mrs Mildmay's daughters have all married by the age of eighteen; and she would like to keep her youngest daughter Nora a little longer at her side. Perhaps a stay within the walls of Mont Saint Michel will provide the necessary seclusion.
Biographical and other notes
Mrs Oliphant herself stayed within the walls of Mont Saint Michel in late 1864. Per her Autobiography she and her children "bivouacked" in an old near-empty house belonging to a priest, M. L'Aumonier - who appears in this story under his own name.
Mont Saint Michel had been a monastery since the 8th century, but was converted to a prison at the time of the French Revolution. The prison had ceased operations only a year before Mrs Oliphant's visit.