Not since The Little Match Girl has anyone been as put upon as Ellen Porter who began her life in equal poverty, misprized as the possible illegitimate child of her Aunt May, hired out as servant girl for 75 cents a week in the Populist era. However her potential ""grandeur"" catches the four eyes of Jeremy Porter and his cousin Francis, both rich, well-educated political aspirants. Ideologically Jeremy is the noble one even if he quietly betrays his ""infernal innocent"" from time to time and he is her husbandly ""surcease and comfort."" Here, as earlier (Captains and the Kings) Mrs. Caldwell puts on her platform shoes and makes her prophylactic remarks on the destruction of capitalism, the middle class, and a national innocence which Ellen apotheosizes. Even before Jeremy is murdered, Ellen has shown depressive signs; after it, she leads an institutionalized ""life-in-death"" pilloried by her two children who not only want her money but promote her feelings of irrelevance, without Jeremy. A final revelation will destroy her altogether. Mrs. Caldwell draws from her usual multitudinous voices in the literary and religious wilderness to bring it all home which is of course where it will be read widely; notwithstanding Aunt May who said that ""books weaken a female's mind.