After death of his father, Harley finds himself in a difficult situation, for his numerous guardians can’t agree on a way his interests should be taken care about. The one thing is clear is that he needs to find a way to obtain wealth. When he fails to repair ties with his distant relatives, there is no need to hope for receiving an inheritance. His neighbor advises him to find a powerful patron by means of selling his vote for a lease for a land. Harley bids farewell to his neighbor and his beautiful daughter and leaves for London, where he is supposed to meet the baronet. The young man meets an old beggar on his way and he listens to the old man’s story which proves to be a fortune-telling one. When he arrives to London, he meets a man named Tom with whom he builds a sort of friendship.
Harley doesn’t manage to meet the baronet, for he is away, but his adventures continue. He dines with a scornful philosopher, who criticizes everything he sees, visits a psychiatric hospital, where he sees a poor woman, who tells him her unfortunate love story and presents him with a ring. A kind-hearted man, Harley helps a prostitute one evening and she turns out to be a very decent human being. Her father arrives the very next day and saves her from this inappropriate life for a lady.
When he learns that his claim has failed, he makes up his mind to go home. He meets his old friend Mr. Edwards, who returns from India, where he used to serve in the army. Together they come to the village, where terrible news waits for them. Mr. Edwards’ son and his daughter-in-law are dead. The only one thing which keeps the old man sane is his grandchildren. Harley finds out that his love, Miss Walton, is engaged to a wealthy man. When the narration returns to Harley again, a reader learns that he gets sick and is about to die. Miss Walton breaks off engagement and confesses her feelings to Harley. He dies holding her hand.