After the death of the menfolk in an 1875 Scottish mining disaster, the Stalker family finds its bonds breaking as the children leave dingy Blacklaw colliery to bootstrap on up. Opportunistic Drew becomes a law-school social climber in Edinburgh. Spoiled, sexy Betsy has an affair with a cultured rake and learns to use her physical charms to escape the squalor of the mining-town. Kate, the plain one, finds security if not love in marriage with the elderly town baker. And beautiful Mirrin, the strong one, escaping from her adulterous affair with mine owner Houston Lamont, takes to the road with a tribe of gypsies, finds success as ""The Songbird of the North"" touring English music halls, but must finally decide between the stage and true love with Tom Armstrong, the domestic gypsy lad. The breathless overwriting, aggressive Scots-guarding (""skliff,"" ""shoogled,"" ""stook,"" ""dreels""), and plodding pace may put off many, while others will find the Stalkers for the most part distasteful and dreary folk. But for those who've read the first installment of this family saga (Strathmore, 1975) the machinery, however creaky, clangs away, and at least Stifling treats her players with modicums of care and respect.