Molly Gibson, the only daughter of the town doctor. When the story opens, Molly is twelve years old, eagerly anticipating the annual garden festival on the grounds of the Towers, the grand home of Lord and Lady Cumnor. Sadly, Molly is disillusioned by the behavior and words of the aristocrats and those who serve them, particularly Clare Kirkpatrick, their former governess, who is now a widow. The scene introduces some of the people who will have a considerable influence on Molly’s life. Molly is devastated when Mrs. Kirkpatrick becomes her stepmother through a marriage arranged by Lady Cumnor. Molly is a steady, sensible girl, however, and she does her best to be a dutiful daughter to the woman who has usurped her place in the doctor’s home. She has much to put up with from her silly, pretentious, and snobbish stepmother, but she makes friends with her stepsister, Cynthia Kirkpatrick. Molly lives by her principles, which are to do what is right, even when it is painful to do so. She thus never reveals her love for Osborne Hamley, and later for his younger brother Roger, as Cynthia flirts with both of the young men though she loves neither of them. Later, Molly compromises herself by meeting with the overseer, Mr. Preston, who is blackmailing Cynthia over a foolish indiscretion that occurred several years earlier. When Osborne’s secret marriage to a poor Frenchwoman is revealed, it is Molly who helps to heal the breach between the dying man and his father, Squire Hamley. Molly is an unselfish young woman who bears her own suffering in silence. Her marriage to Roger Hamley is clearly foretold at the end of the novel, and her happiness is well deserved.
Cynthia Kirkpatrick, the daughter of the...
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