Arthur Lawford, a middle-aged Englishman who, while resting in an ancient churchyard, finds himself strangely turned into the shape of Nicholas Sabathier, an eighteenth century Britisher who had committed suicide on the Eve of St. Michael and All Angels in 1739. Lawford keeps his own mind and has strange feelings about himself, as well as difficulties with his family and friends. On the anniversary of Sabathier’s death, however, he is returned to his own shape once again.
Sheila Lawford, Arthur’s wife. Though she believes the stranger she sees is really her husband in a different shape, she refuses to stay with him at night as a wife and insists on leaving the house. She finally leaves him alone in the house for several days to wrestle with his problems.
Herbert Herbert, a stranger in the neighborhood, a bookish recluse. He identifies Lawford’s new shape as that of Nicholas Sabathier. During his transformation, Lawford spends a great deal of time with Herbert and his sister Grisel, both of whom are quite sympathetic.
Grisel Herbert, Herbert’s sister. She and Arthur come to realize that in another life they have previously loved. She gives Lawford the feeling when he is with her that he is fighting some strange spirit, and yet he takes great comfort in her company.
Alice Lawford, Arthur’s teenage daughter. While she faints from shock when first she sees her transformed father, she goes to him in secret, against her mother’s wishes, to tell him that she sympathizes and hopes that all will turn out well.
The Reverend Mr. Bethany
The Reverend Mr. Bethany, rector of the parish. Although he is horrified at what happens to Lawford, he remains sympathetic. On the night that Lawford returns to his own shape, the rector arrives at the Lawford home to keep vigil.