Percival Windham is a second son and a cavalry officer acclaimed and respected by his men. He is immensely attractive and distracts himself with the women who seem to throw themselves at him at every turn. At a country house party, Percy meets beautiful, retiring Esther Himmelfarb. Esther's wealthier relations are taking shameless advantage of her dependence on them, and only Percy seems to see the striking intelligence beneath her modest demeanor.
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Percival Windham is a second son and cavalry officer when he weds the beautiful Esther Himmelfarb, who bears her beloved husband four sons in little over five years of marriage. As Percival and Esther's finances become constrained, the ducal heir suffers an ailing heart, and the old duke becomes querulous and forgetful. Married life thus comes to feel like endless loneliness and tribulation. Esther is exhausted and emotional; Percival is considering the wisdom of finding a mistress.