Rodolph (roh-DOHLF), the grand duke of Gerolstein, a small German state. The hero of this intricately plotted romance, Rodolph as a youth was forced into a secret morganatic marriage with a beautiful and sinister woman. His father had the marriage annulled; in the resultant quarrel the, son threatened the father’s life and was exiled. His infant daughter was afterward reported dead. Now duke, he roams the streets of Paris in disguise. He befriends an unfortunate girl who, he discovers much later, is his daughter. Father and daughter are reunited after much misfortune occasioned primarily by the scheming mother, who comes to a well-deserved end. Rodolph then marries a woman he has long loved and returns to Germany with his wife and daughter.
Fleur-de-Marie (flewr deh mah-REE), Rodolph’s daughter. Brought up by criminals who forced her into crime, she is recognized as good and really innocent by Rodolph. Kidnapped and nearly murdered as a result of her mother’s intrigues, she is at last reunited with her father, happily for a time. Her early evil life preys on her mind, however, and she enters a convent. So perfect is her conduct that she is immediately made abbess. This honor is too much for her gentle soul and weak body, and she dies that very night.
Lady Sarah Macgregor
Lady Sarah Macgregor, Rodolph’s morganatic wife. Ambitious and sinister, she turns her infant over to her lawyer, who reports the child dead. Later, when Rodolph is duke, she asks the lawyer to find a girl to pose as her daughter, for she thinks that this action on her part might possibly result in a reconciliation. After many intrigues, she is stabbed by a criminal hired in her behalf. Rodolph remarries her on her deathbed to legitimatize Fleur-de-Marie.
Clémence d’Harville (klay-MAHNS dahr-VEEL), who is unhappily married to one of Rodolph’s friends. She is the intended victim of one of Lady Sarah’s plots. Clémence is saved from further unhappiness by her epileptic husband’s thoughtful suicide, faked as an accident, by which he atones for the evil he committed in marrying her. Independently of Rodolph, Clémence too befriends Fleur-de-Marie. After Lady Sarah’s death, she and Rodolph marry.
Jacques Ferrand (zhahk feh-RAH[N]), a hypocritical and thoroughly evil lawyer, hired by Lady Sarah first to get rid of her daughter and later to find a substitute for the girl. Rodolph blackmails Ferrand into establishing many worthy charities. His money thus dissipated, Ferrand goes into a decline and dies.
Madame Georges (zhohrzh), who is deserted by her criminal husband, who took their son with him. She is befriended by Rodolph and for a time cares for Fleur-de-Marie on her farm.
La Chouette (shew-EHT), an ugly, one-eyed woman, a Paris criminal hired by Ferrand to kidnap Fleur-de-Marie. Later, on her own initiative, she stabs and robs Lady Sarah.
The Schoolmaster, another Paris criminal hired by Ferrand. He proves to be Madame Georges’ husband. He kills La Chouette and is imprisoned.
Rigolette (ree-goh-LEHT), a kind and hardworking young woman, Fleur-de-Marie’s friend from prison days. Her lover, whose release from prison Rodolph makes possible, turns out to be Madame Georges’ long-lost son. He and Rigolette marry and live happily with Madame Georges.
Sir Walter Murphy
Sir Walter Murphy, the young duke’s faithful servant and companion in his probing of the mysteries of the Paris streets.
Cecily (say-see-LEE), a beautiful woman fallen into depravity. Rodolph secures her release from prison and places her in Ferrand’s household as a spy. She furnishes him with much valuable information, the most important relating to the true identity of his daughter.
Polidori (poh-lee-doh-REE), an evil tutor who, urged on by Lady Sarah, does his best to warp the young Rodolph’s mind.