Mark Sabre, an idealistic man whose love for humanity results in his persecution and betrayal by unsympathetic people. Suspected of fathering the child of a girl he befriends and later of having been responsible for her suicide, he loses his wife, his job, and his reputation. After discovering the identity of the illegitimate child’s father, he generously refrains from disclosing it.
Mabel Sabre, his wife, a totally conventional and unsympathetic woman. Never able to understand her husband, she construes his willingness to help an unwed mother as guilt, and she divorces him.
Effie Bright, the daughter of an employee at Sabre’s office. Cast off after the birth of her baby by everyone, including her father, Effie appeals for help to Sabre. Later, horrified by the trouble she has caused him, she kills her child and herself.
Lady Nona Tybar
Lady Nona Tybar, Sabre’s former sweetheart and his one understanding friend. She believes in him throughout his troubles and finally marries him.
Mr. Twyning, Sabre’s business associate. His misunderstanding and persecution of Sabre are largely responsible for Sabre’s ruin.
Harold Twyning, the son of Mr. Twyning. Effie’s suicide letter names him as her child’s father. Sabre, going to Twyning’s office with the letter, finds him grieving over the news that Harold has been killed in battle. Sabre then destroys the letter.
Mr. Fortune, Sabre’s employer, concerned that scandal will hurt his business.
Lord Tybar, Nona’s charming and unfaithful husband. He is killed in the war.
Mrs. Perch, an old woman whose son wishes to enlist in the army. Sabre’s first act of benevolence to Effie, before her troubles begin, is to arrange for her to be Mrs. Perch’s companion. The news of young Perch’s death kills Mrs. Perch.
Mr. Fargus, Sabre’s neighbor and friend.