Clara Amedroz is the only surviving child of the elderly squire of Belton Castle in Somersetshire. At twenty-five, she is old for an unmarried woman. Her father's income and savings have been dissipated to pay for the extravagances of her brother, who subsequently committed suicide. Since her father has no living sons, his estate, which is entailed, will pass upon his death to a distant cousin, Will Belton. Despite her poor prospects, she has two eligible suitors.