THERE is no more distinguished family in England than the Blantyres of Glenallan. Its very name is a sufficient passport into the best society. Nevertheless, those who know shrug their shoulders, glance significantly at one another, and leave the rest to discreet silence. Be that as it may, however, the Blantyres are still important people in their own neighbourhood. Their estates are as extensive as ever, and their revenues have suffered no diminution, even in these democratic days, when few old families can boast of the power and influence they wielded a hundred years ago. At the time the story opens the Blantyre estates and title were vested in Sir Arthur Blantyre, an elderly man of somewhat close and eccentric habits. No one could say anything against him; no breath of scandal dimmed his fame. And yet there was not a single tenant or neighbour on the estate who had not some strange story to tell in regard to his landlord.