Lily Dale is sublimely happy when she becomes engaged to Adolphus Crosbie, assistant secretary in a government agency. Lily is the niece of Squire Dale, an embittered old bachelor fixedly stuck in the "Great House" at Allington. Crosbie spends a weekend away from Lily, and becomes attracted to Lady Alexandrina De Courcy, Who is from a noble Family. He asks for her hand in marriage, jilting he former love, Lily. John Eames, a young government clerk, has loved Lily Dale for years. He tries to get Lily to notice him after she gets jilted, but she still loves Crosbie, and maintains her love for him despite his treachery. Crosbie, however, soon finds that his noble bride brings no money into the marriage, but continues to spend it as though she had. His "noble"marriage is a debacle from start to finish. All Lily's friends urge her toward Eames, but Lily stubbornly clings to her hopeless love.