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: The Legacy of Cain explores the theme of hereditary evil, and attacks the idea that 'bad blood' necessarily results in a criminality. The main story begins in 1875. Helena and Eunice are sisters brought up by their father, the Reverend Abel Gracedieu. He has deliberately kept them in ignorance of their true ages because the elder daughter was adopted in 1858, after her natural mother was executed for the brutal murder of her husband. The story's main narrator is the prison governor who always feared the adoption would end badly because of the taint of inherited evil. The household is joined by the minister's impoverished cousin, Selina Jillgall, to whom Helena takes an immediate dislike. The good-natured Eunice, however, becomes very friendly with Miss Jillgall whose only other ally is a Mrs Tegenbruggen. In 1858 she was Elizabeth Chance, lover of Eunice's murdered father. Mrs Tegenbruggen is determined to discover which daughter is the elder and make trouble.