"Desperate Remedies" – A young woman, Cytherea Graye, is forced by poverty to accept a post as ladys maid to the eccentric Miss Aldclyffe, the woman whom her father had loved but had been unable to marry. Cytherea loves a young architect, Edward Springrove, but Miss Adclyffes machinations, the discovery that Edward is already engaged to a woman whom he does not love, and the urgent need to support a sick brother drive Cytherea to accept the hand of Aeneas Manston, Miss Adclyffes illegitimate son, whose first wife is believed to have perished in a fire.
"The Hand of Ethelberta" – Ethelberta was raised in humble circumstances but, through her work as a governess, married well at the age of eighteen. Her husband died soon after the wedding and, now twenty-one, Ethelberta lives with her mother-in-law. In the three years that have elapsed since the death of her husband, Ethelberta has been treated to foreign travel and further privilege, making a career as a famous poet and storyteller. Beautiful, clever, and rational, she easily attracts four very persistent suitors, but is reluctant to give her much-coveted hand.
"A Laodicean" – Paula Power inherits a medieval castle from her industrialist father who has purchased it from the aristocratic De Stancy family. She employs George Somerset, a newly qualified architect from London. He shows an interest in Paula, as well as Captain De Stancy, an impoverished scion of the family. Paula is attracted to both of them for their different virtues but William Dare, an illegitimate son of Captain De Stancy and an amateur photographer, helps his father by counterfeiting a telegram and a photograph to make Somerset look bad.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth.
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