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The beautiful old pre-Elizabethan house and estate of Whiteladies is strictly entailed. The two ladies in their late fifties who live there, Susan and Augustine Austin, are the daughters of the prior possessor. Augustine, who lives and dresses as a penitent nun, believes Whiteladies is cursed. The ladies have partially raised the current possessor, Herbert, and his sister Reine. But now he is dying in Switzerland; and once he dies the sisters must leave the only home they have ever had. The estate will go to the presumptive heir-at-law Mr Farrel-Austin (a man they deeply dislike), unless the missing branch of the family can be found, having the true heir-at-law.