The Lattisons move into a house near to that of the Reynolds, and as the two families become acquainted, it seems only natural that the Lattison children would spend time with the Reynolds children. The daughters of the two families, Coraline and Anne, become particularly intimate, and Coraline learns that Anne once had eight brothers, but seven of them are dead, leaving only one surviving brother, Harrison. Strange rumors surround the Lattison family, and Coraline is witness to a strange fit of madness from Harrison.
Harrison and his family disappear for a year after this episode, and when they return, it is with assurances that Harrison is now in complete health. Coraline and Harrison renew their acquaintance and are shortly married.
After a passage of sixteen years, Coraline and Harrison are happily settled with three children, but the dissolution of Harrison's business partnership and a series of bad business choices bankrupt him. Despair leads to madness, and Harrison decides to feign suicide, while putting himself in a position to see how his family reacts to the news.
He leaves a suicide note for his wife and rents an abandoned pawn shop across the way, so he can watch his family's grief. When Cora comes home and finds the letter, she faints and frightens the entire household. When she recovers, she slips into deep mourning.
Without a husband bringing in money, and with her eldest son, Henry, following in her husband's spendthrift ways, Coraline resolves to take boarders into her home as a solution to her financial problems. The only other option would be to re-marry, but Coraline's only suitor is her husband's former business partner. Coraline's uncle is pressing the match, much to the displeasure of both Coraline and her daughter, Ella.
Harrison learns that shares he holds in a mine have become extraordinarily valuable, and he gets word to his lawyer to ensure that the shares are signed over to his wife so she will get the money. After determining that his wife needs a protector and his eldest son needs guidance before he becomes completely dissolute, Harrison reveals his true identity to his family, to the astonishment and tearful happiness of his wife.