In New York City, Dickens meets an ardent admirer, a Miss Baldwin, who reminds him of someone from his youth. As a young man, Charles was involved in amateur theatricals and was writing, drawing on his own experiences for the latter. Charles has also taken an interest in Maria Beadnell, one of several daughters to a well-known banker. In fact, he's fallen madly in love with her and has taken to writing her poetry. Fearing that he way not make enough money as a shorthand writer, he decides to take acting lessons in the hopes the theater may somehow supplement his income. But then Maria's cousin Mary Ann meets Charles' father quite by chance and learns that he was once in prison.