In the Palmer and the Tebbens families, we meet two of the less congenial figures among the Barsetshire gentry; young Richard Tebbens and Louise Palmer. However, since Thirkell's people are never all of a piece, bossy Mrs Palmer's nasty treatment of Margaret Tebbens is partially redeemed by her handsome apology and Richard's heroic rescue of young Jessica Dean from a bemused bull leaves him unreformed in his selfishness. Action centres around amateur theatricals which include young and old, upstairs and downstairs and affords plenty of scope for romance. One is reminded of Mr Bennet's observation "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?". Incidentally, where but here do we see allusions to Mr Frank Churchill and Mrs. Norris with the expectation that we, as well as the characters, will understand the reference to novels of Miss Austen.