(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Valentine Brown

Valentine Brown, a doctor who, through poor investments, loses the Throssel sisters’ small fortune for them. He disappoints Phoebe Throssel when he goes off to the Napoleonic Wars without proposing marriage. Following his military service, during which he becomes a captain, he returns, minus his left hand. He is amazed by the alteration in Phoebe’s appearance after ten years. To Phoebe’s discomfiture, he does not conceal his surprise. He learns, however, to appreciate Phoebe and marries her.

Phoebe Throssel

Phoebe Throssel, who is in love with Valentine. When he shows dismay that ten years of schoolteaching have made a drab, mousy woman of her, she dresses as if she were twenty again. Her appearance deceives Captain Brown, and she maintains a disguise as her own fictitious niece Livvy. Her activities and popularity while in disguise convince Captain Brown that he prefers the more mature, modest, and quiet Phoebe. She accepts his proposal of marriage, and her school is closed.

Susan Throssel

Susan Throssel, Phoebe’s sister. She is retiring and shy, like Phoebe. Both sisters find teaching school difficult, for they detest teaching some subjects, such as Latin and mathematics. They also fear the older boys and dare not punish them.

Ensign Blades

Ensign Blades, a former student at the Throssel sisters’ school. Under duress, he asks Phoebe to attend a ball. With her pride hurt, she declines.


Patty, the Throssel sisters’ maid. She discloses the identity of “Livvy” to Valentine Brown.


Livvy, the Throssel sisters’ fictitious but pretty young niece, who is really Phoebe in disguise. Captain Brown is completely taken in by the ruse at first. After Patty at last reveals the secret to him, he makes Livvy disappear by taking a makeshift dummy out of town in full view of the snoopy, gossipy neighbors.