A pretty young girl has to leave home to make money for her family. She is clever and a good worker; but she is uneducated and does not know the cruel ways of the world. So, when a rich young man says he loves her, she is careful - but not careful enough. He is persuasive, and she is overwhelmed. It is not her fault, but the world says it is. Her young life is already stained by men's desires, and by death.
On an evening in the latter part of May a middle–aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg–basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune. "Good night t'ee," said the man with the basket. "Good night, Sir John," said the parson.