Introduction: The story of John Alexander Malabone-Beverley, or Bones, a no-hoper boy possessing neither brains or brawn, who is constantly bullied. His ascension to popularity is poignant and surprising.
Chapter One: As an adult Bones is treated perfunctorily, just as his father had been, while his brothers and sisters are respected and admired. His father would like him to enter the clergy, but Bones wants to join the army.
Chapter Two: Bones is posted to Allahabad in India. He is no good at polo, tennis or cricket but becomes the regiment boxing champion. One night, whilst playing cards, he is accused of cheating and resigns his commission.
Chapter Three: Bones is now in Australia and a Union representative. He is trying to placate angry shearers and does so through a thoughtful, insightful speech.
Chapter Four: Now a politician, Bones is in love with a farmer's daughter. Just before the election he tells her that he loves her and they become engaged. However, he has misgivings because he has not told anyone about his previous life.
Chapter Five: Bones is re-elected but is unhappy and afraid his past will return to haunt him. He is thrown from his horse and breaks his back. Lying on his death bed he is visited by someone from his past.