Ettie Beaumont is the heir to the inheritance of her deceased mother and the adopted niece of Mr and Mrs Shotwell, who have raised Ettie on their country property and invested both hers and their own more modest income in the banks. When Ettie's eyesight is damaged in an accident on the same night that the Shotwells learn of the loss of both fortunes, they resolve to keep the extent of both damages secret from her for fear that she will consider her life too much of a burden to them. A month later, her eyesight not having recovered, she is visited by eye specialist Dr Stanhope at the request of Ettie's suitor Tom Inglis. There Dr Stanhope privately confronts Inglis about the irresponsibility and dishonesty of pursuing marriage with Ettie in spite of his untreatable syphilis, as well as Inglis's ill use of his previous love interest, Nance Crossthwaite. Dr Stanhope, intrigued by Ettie's case and her relationship with Tom, takes Ettie into his own home for closer care, where she comes into contact with Nance and with Dr Stanhope's strong views on segregation of the 'unfit'. Meanwhile, her aunt and uncle have quietly sold their old home and taken their nephew out of school, with Ettie remaining unaware until they visit six weeks later for the momentous removal of her bandages and all is revealed with the help of their blabber-mouthed servant Maggie. Upon overhearing a conversation between Nance and Dr Stanhope about Inglis's impending visit, Ettie finally learns that the identity of Nance's noble and self-sacrificing lover, who supposedly distanced himself from Nance entirely to spare her the pains of his ill-health, is Inglis himself. The play concludes when Dr Stanhope foils her plans for suicide, and then with immense fortitude Ettie rejects the faithless Inglis.
MR SHOTWELL her husband
BOBBIE their nephew
ETTIE BEAUMONT their niece by adoption and an obvious gentlewoman
MAGGIE their servant
TOM INGLISH a solicitor
MRS STANHOPE his mother
NANCE CROSSTHWAITE a nurse
1915: The Miniature Theatre, Oakleigh. 28 August [second performance], 4 September.
1916: Performed on 19 September in the Australian Church, Melbourne.