Emily Fox-Seton is a young woman of good birth but no money who works as a companion and assistant for various members of the upper class. She lives in a rented room in a boarding house owned and run by Mrs. Cupp and her daughter, Jane. Her chief employer is Lady Maria Bayne, who is both very selfish and very funny, although she does come to care for Emily. One day, Lady Maria invites Emily to come to a country house party-and to act as Lady Maria's companion, which means she gets to participate in the social activities. The most important guest at the party is Lady Maria's cousin, the marquis James Walderhurst. Emily finds out that he lost his first wife and son many years ago, and if he wants an heir to inherit his title and estates, he must remarry and have another son. During the preparations for the party, a letter arrives at the estate with the news that Mrs. Cupp is selling the house where Emily lives and she breaks in tears. Moved by Emily's unfortunate destiny, Walderhurst takes pity and proposes her.
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About the Author
Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was a British novelist and playwright. She is best known for the three children's novels Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden, although her romantic adult novels were also popular, according to list of bestselling novels in the United States. Burnett was well known in Washington society and hosted a literary salon on Tuesday evenings, often attended by politicians, as well as local literati. She enjoyed socializing and lived a lavish lifestyle. She traveled to England frequently and in the 1890s bought a home there, where she wrote The Secret Garden.