This novella is a quietly suspenseful story of what can happen when a widow with five children unexpectedly decides to marry again. Her first husband had left all property unconditionally in her name, apparently assuming that their eldest son would receive the estate at age 21. Will the new stepfather protect the interests of Charley and the other children, or will power corrupt? While Mrs Clifford (now Mrs Summerhayes) does her best to stay positive, the two eldest children Charley and Loo look on with open eyes. Near the end of the story, a dramatic event takes place which may change everything.
Biographical and other notes
At the time this story was written, one hotly debated women's issue centered on the fact that upon marriage all property and income belonging to the wife became the husband's (unless there had been a legal settlement signed prior to the marriage). Eventually public pressure led to the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882, which gave married women the right to their own income and to their own property.
British publishing information
Periodical: Blackwood's Magazine Mar-Apr 1863
First edition: Foster, Follett, & Co: NY (only printed as a book in the USA) 1868