Tangled up in this church power struggle is Hiram's Hospital, a charitable establishment for retired people. A new warden is to be appointed to run this hospital and both sides want to put one of their own followers in this position. The Archdeacon wants to reappoint Dr. Harding, who held the position previously before a newspaper scandal forced him to resign. Dr. Harding is also the father of two daughters. The older daughter is Susan Grantly, who is married to the Archdeacon. The younger is Eleanor Bold, a new widow with a baby and a small fortune.