Mr Lewisham, a young and highly ambitious schoolmaster, falls in love with Ethel Henderson, a young lady visiting his Sussex village. When Ethel returns to London they promise to keep in touch but as time passes their letters go astray. A few years later, we are re-introduced to Mr Lewisham, now a student at the Normal School of Science in London. Having searched in vain for Ethel, his life revolves around study and a flirtation with fellow student Alice. But just as things are all set with Alice, he runs into Ethel at a séance he has attended out of curiosity. There he realises that Ethel is the niece of a charlatan 'medium', and closely involved in his dealings. His memories of their time in Sussex wrestle in his mind with his feelings of disgust for all things spiritual, as his love for Ethel forces him to reconsider his political and scientific beliefs.