Orphaned at a young age William Crimsworth was dependant on his aristocratic uncles for the formative years of his life. Desperate to free himself and become self-sufficient he rashly resolves to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a tradesman. As a result he writes to separated elder brother, Edward Crimsworth, who happens to be a successful tradesman. Though Mr. E Crimsworth feels no natural affection for his little brother he does give him a position as a counting clerk. William is very good at this job even though Edward tries his best to make it unbearable for him. The misery William is subjected to at the hand of his master does not go unnoticed by fellow tradesman Mr. Hunsden. Hunsden, who has a hero complex, decides to help William out by getting him fired from his job. Unemployed William decides to head to Belgium in search of work with the recommendation of Mr. Hundsen.
In Belgium Mr. W Crimsworth secures a position as an English teacher at M Pelet’s all boys’ school. Though he finds his Flemish students crude and uneducated he enjoys teaching. He is a very good teacher and soon receives extra employment teaching English in the afternoon’s at Mlle Reuter’s pensionnat. He is disappointed to find that most of the girls are just as vulgar and unintelligent as the boys but finds his time spent at the pensionnat agreeable enough. It is during this time that he begins to entertain certain affection towards Mlle Reuter however the feeling is soon squandered once her true character is revealed. Soon after Mlle Reuter loses his favour, a new student joins William’s class, Mlle Henri who teaches lace mending at the pensionnat’s. His curiosity is piqued when he discovers that his new pupil has a relatively good English accent and shows promise. He starts to pay her special attention and soon finds himself enraptured by her.
Unfortunately, Mlle Reuter dismisses Mlle Henri out of jealousy because she fancies William. William searches desperately to find the address of his favourite pupil. After a long search he had nearly given up when he finds her kneeling in a graveyard of all places. He discovers that her aunt had passed away, where she lives, and admits to himself that he loves her deeply. Back at the school William discovers that Mlle Reuter and M Pelet are once again engaged. He feels that he cannot live under the same roof as the manipulative headmistress so he leaves his job. Unfortunately, that means that he is without any substinence, which means that he cannot marry Mlle Henri. He sets out to find a new job so that he will be able to marry her. With the help of Victor Vandenhuten he is able to secure a position at the university as an English professor. Now employed, William asks Mlle Henri to marry him and she agrees. They later start their own school and save money so that one day they will be able to move back to England. After several years they move back to England and get a house at Daisy Lane where they lead a happy life with their son Victor.