Bertie’s cowardly schemes mainly involve encouraging Thug to behave badly, and his growing opium addiction causes him to take greater risks. He finds himself marginalised and poor Thug is confined to the stables, bewildered as to what he has done wrong. Matters are brought to a head when Bertie brings Thug into the house, in defiance of the Doctor’s orders, and persuades him to sleep on his favourite rug. The enraged Doctor orders the servants to collar Thug, but the dog flies at his throat and bites his hand. The Doctor calls for his gun and shoots the dog dead. He then turns his ire on Bertie, demanding that he leave the house immediately.

Separated from her beloved dog and husband, Nelly falls into a deep depression. A crowing Mrs Prowse reminds her of her wifely duty and insists that she goes through the motions. Nelly tries her best, but becomes frantic when she hears no word from Bertie. Monkton’s manner becomes even more sadistic and he threatens her with physical violence. She discovers that he has been concealing her brother’s illness and she escapes to London in search of him.

On arrival, she encounters Cousin Nigel and learns that he has been caring for Bertie at his house. He gets her there just as Bertie wheezes his last breath. Nelly learns the full story behind the family feud – she and Bertie were the illegitimate offspring from a liaison between their mother and a soldier. Nigel’s father shot the soldier for having brought disgrace upon the family. Both Nelly and Nigel realise she must return to her husband’s protection, as society would not tolerate an estranged wife. However, Dr Monkton refuses to have anything to do with her, and Mrs Prowse sneers at Nelly’s demands to return to the marital home. She is extremely insulting regarding their parentage and takes the opportunity to speak her mind. Her husband, the long-suffering Canon Prowse, springs to Nelly’s defence and is himself attacked. Undeterred, he tell her a few home truths and boxes her ears. She is thereafter forced to assume the role of the submissive wife she has been trying to impose on Nelly.

Nelly decides to retire to a quiet life in Little Bickton, the home of her youth. In the meantime it transpires that Thug was rabid when he bit the Doctor, and Monkton is now declining fast. The final ravings of hydrophobia alienate him from her few remaining allies, and he dies with only his sister to mourn his passing. Prevailing prejudices against such illnesses lead neighbours to believe that Mrs Prowse too is infected, and she is shunned. Nelly is unmoved by her husband’s death, but is still utterly distraught by the loss of her brother. She allows Cousin Nigel to marry her and take her to Scotland, but is clear that he cannot expect too much from her. Her melancholy persists for some time, but Nigel’s unconditional love and support encourages her to trust him, and they do indeed live happily ever after.

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