This collection contains two novellas, both previously serialised in Cornhill Magazine. The book came out in 1897, the last year of Margaret Oliphant's life. In each story the central character has asked himself whether his family would be better off if he were dead; and the stories proceed from there in very different directions.
This book also includes a remarkable Preface by Margaret Oliphant, "On the Ebbtide", which explores the moment when people feel the turn of the tide - that "their career has come to a stop . . . and that henceforward they must accustom themselves to the thought of going out with the tide."