In 1790 Victor Horion comes to visit his friends, the Court Chaplain's family, including their son Flamin, to be godfather to their youngest son, Sebastian. Victor has somewhat lowered himself in station by training as a doctor so he can restore his father, Lord Horion's, eyesight. He meets Flamin's love, Clotilda, who will not engage herself to Flamin. While initially repelled by her coldness, he comes to love her while they watch by the death bed of his revered teacher. She has lost her best friend not long ago, and believes that she too will die - is almost in love with death. He learns that Flamin is actually her brother- hence her refusal to marry him - but cannot reveal the secret to Flamin. Flamin's temper and mischievous members of the court threaten to destroy their friendship.