Philip Jones of Castle Marony, an extensive estate in County Galway, incurred the enmity of Pat Carroll, a tenant and a Landleaguer, who incited his friends to refuse to pay their rent and finally to flood and ruin a large field. Florian Jones, the ten-year-old son, was a witness to the deed, but he had recently become a Catholic and had given a solemn oath to Father Brosnan that he would not identify the culprits. Others who knew the facts were too terrified to tell what they knew. The only hope of obtaining legal redress was through Florian's testimony, and he was finally persuaded to reveal what he had seen. Pat's brother Terry was also induced to testify against the Landleaguers. Pat was brought to trial, but on the way to the court Florian was shot and killed, and Terry was murdered in the courtroom.
Frank Jones, the eldest son, was engaged to Rachel O'Mahony, an Irish-American girl who had achieved a great success in London as an opera singer; but he would not marry her because of the poverty that had overtaken the family as a result of the depredations of the Landleaguers. She became engaged to Lord Castlewell, a wealthy patron of Covent Garden who had helped her materially in her career, but when she lost her voice she broke her engagement to him, and returned to Frank.
The two daughters of the family, Ada and Edith, saw a great deal of Captain Clayton - a vigorous opponent of the Landleaguers, who was often at Castle Marony. Ada was beautiful and charming and Edith, though she loved the Captain dearly, was sure he must love her sister, and unselfishly contrived to throw them together. When he was shot from ambush by the outlaws and brought to the Castle, the two girls nursed him, and it was soon apparent that the Captain's love was for Edith.
More of a tract on the agrarian troubles in Ireland in 1879-81, than a novel. It was unfinished at the time of Trollope's death, as only 49 of the 60 chapters had been completed. "Sad accounts of wretched actuality, in which characterization is submerged in floods of almost literal fact."- Sadleir