- Having known poverty and outlived three husbands, Madame Rachel has found a lucrative occupation which she has no intention of losing.
- Making use of knowledge gained from one husband, a chemist's assistant, she makes up worthless potions and elixirs, gives them romantic names, and battens on the desire of foolish, ignorant women to remain "beautiful for ever", aided - with increasing concern - by her elder daughter, Leonte.
- The silly, simpering Mrs. Borrodaile seems a prize victim, and Madame uses all her cunning to defraud her, even to the creation of a supposed titled lover.
- She divests her of all she possesses and even causes her to be imprisoned for debt.
- But at last she over-reaches herself: Nemesis arrives from an unexpected source, and as the play ends the shadows of retribution fall across Madame Rachel's face.
- Period: 1867.
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