The title story in this stimulating collection is a tragic tale of mean streets, with two heroes and a typical Gaskell heroine in the form of Norah, a Lancashire servant-girl. The scene shifts to a gloomy valley in N Wales for 'The Doom of the Griffiths' where an ancient curse leads to crime and despair. Susan Dixon, the Westmoreland 'stateswoman', is also called upon to struggle against her fate and the old conflict between duty and affection in 'Half a Lifetime Ago'. 'The Poor Clare' takes us from the remote NE corner of Lancashire to an Antwerp convent. Its themes is built around the mysterious sin, and its eventual expiation of an unhappy mother, Bridget Fitzgerald. There follows another adventure of the Fells, where a snow storm plays a significant part. Finally 'Mr Harrison's Confessions' is a delightful little story full of comedy and occasionally pure farce.