What, you ask, is the beggar's virtue? It's patience, something which Rebecca Chevin, despite her Quaker upbringing, most definitely lacks. Passionate and impulsive, she runs off with her girlfriend's older brother, rakehell Marcus, in 1830, and ends up deserted in a London lodging-house of poor repute. Returning home to her prissy mother, her adored grandfather (a small manufacturer in the lace trade), and her supportive sister Joanna, Becca finds herself possibly pregnant. The only solution is to marry the man who has always loved her, childhood friend Jocelyn, an upright and kindly type devoted to the Reform movement. She does so, deceiving him even about her virginity (thanks to some lucky menstrual timing), but soon falls truly in love with him. When nasty Marcus reappears and is blackmailing dear old Grandpa--not to mention smuggling English lacemaking secrets to France--what is poor Becca to do? Just what poor Beccas always do. . . in unremarkable but relatively sprightly period passionates like this one.