As a young lady, Mary Gleadhell chose the occupation of a hired companion, rather than seeking love and marriage. When she accepts a new position as company for the mother of the 4th Baron of Warrington, Mary believes she has procured an excellent situation. However, when she arrives at Whitefield Hall and meets her ladyship, she discovers a cold and aloof woman who does not want her companionship.
To make matters worse, her ladyship warns Mary to be careful because her son is a snake who seduces women. In fact, she blames him for the hasty departure of two previous companions. The baron, on the other hand, warns Mary not to believe everything she hears, calling his mother a poisonous spider.
Unsure who to trust, Mary settles into her new employment with caution. However, as the weeks pass in a strife-filled home occupied by bickering adults, she wonders if she will be the next companion to mysteriously flee from Whitefield Hall. (Approx. 34,000 words)