First published anonymously in 1860, the narrator of this novel (who remains unnamed) is an orphan who is sent to live with her aunt. During the journey, the narrator and her companion, Mr. Rutledge, are injured in a train wreck and are thus moved to a nearby parsonage to recuperate before continuing the journey. At the parsonage, part of a large estate called Rutledge, the narrator enjoys the kindness and caring of Mr. Rutledge and the parsonage’s occupants. When the narrator finally makes it to her aunt's house, she is caught in the flippant social whirl and to a certain degree comes to enjoy it. Drama and tragedy ensue before our narrator determines where her place place of real joy and love should be.