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: Herminia Barton, the Cambridge-educated daughter of a clergyman, frees herself from her parents' influence, moves to London and starts living alone. As she is not a woman of independent means, she starts working as a teacher. When she meets and falls in love with Alan Merrick, a lawyer, she suggests they live together without getting married. Reluctantly, he agrees, and the couple move to Italy. There, in Florence, Merrick dies of typhoid before their daughter Dolores is born. Legal technicalities and the fact that the couple were not married prevent Herminia from inheriting any of Merrick's money. Dreaming of being a role model for Dolores and her friends, Herminia returns to England and raises her daughter as a single mother. She wants to show the younger generation that even as a woman there is something one can do about the unfair position of women in society—a small step maybe, but with more and larger steps to follow soon. However, Dolores turns out to be ashamed of her mother's unmarried state and gradually turns against her. Eventually, Herminia chooses to make a huge sacrifice for her daughter's benefit and commits suicide.