Stephen Sorrell was a Captain in the war but like many, he has had difficulty re-establishing himself. Abandoned by his greedy wife and now solely responsible for his 13 year-old son Kit, Sorrell relocates to Staunton in April 1921 only to find that his prospective employer has died that very morning. Desperate for a job, he accepts a lowly position as the porter at the Angel Inn Hotel where the mistress of the establishment seems to take some pleasure in Sorrell's situation. The job has long hours and is hard work but his main concern is ensuring his son Kit gets a proper education and so sends him to a local grammar school where he has trouble fitting in. Rescue from his current situation appears to come in the form of a hotel guest, Thomas Roland, who has a proposition for him.