Charlotte and Phcebe Fallowfield were the children of a retired officer, who had no private means, and whose pension naturally did not survive him. Their mother died while they were yet in their infancy; and since their father’s death, some few years before this story opens, they had been entirely dependent upon their own exertions for a living. Charlotte was a teacher in a girls’ school, and Phcebe a nursery governess in a country clergyman’s family. The former was engaged to be married to Herbert Wilson, a clerk in an accountant’s office ; and the latter to Derek Silverthorne, the happy-go-lucky Irish curate of her employer. But the chance of either of these engagements being brought to a satisfactory conclusion was very remote indeed, owing to a total lack of means on the part of everybody concerned.