Dorothy Hare, only child of the rector in a small Suffolk village, is an obedient assistant to her unfeeling, humourless widowed father. Most of her time is spent keeping his creditors at bay, and helping local charities. Her only friend is the incorrigible Mr Warburton, who knows the whole village is talking about him behind his back, and doesn't care. After she dines with him alone one evening, he walks her back home, and tries to kiss her goodbye but is firmly rebuffed. Their busybody neighbour Mrs Semprill sees them, and immediately tells everyone else in the village.
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Dorothy then loses her memory and wanders the streets of London, with little more than the clothes she stands up in. She finds work with a group of others, hop-picking, and one day she hears them talking about a story in the paper, of a rector's daughter who has mysteriously disappeared from home. She sees the paper, recognises the picture as herself, and gradually her memory comes back. At the end of the hop-picking season she writes to her father, asking for money, but her letters go unanswered.
Returning to London she seeks respectable domestic work, but in vain, and when the money runs out, she ends up sleeping rough. An elderly uncle comes to her rescue by finding her a job in a small private school, run by a headmistress who resents her teaching methods when she tries to stimulate their young imaginations and enquiring minds with something more exciting than endless arithmetic and handwriting.
The review of this Book prepared by John Van der Kiste