This short tragedy begins when the maid Sarah comes in and finds Miss Tassey in bed resting, and obeys her very weakly voiced request for the window to be opened. Shortly thereafter Rose, a young and thoughtless shop clerk, and her friend Possie (Miss Postlethwaite) come in. Rose is getting Possie to fix her dress, as Rose is planning to go out (and maybe staying the night out) with her sweet young beau, who has apparently asked her to marry him. She has already spent one night out, and is reprimanded by Sarah, who threatens to tell the director of the housing dormitories for single women working in the city. Rose blames Miss Tassey for tattling on her, though it is far from clear that this is really the case. Rose disses Miss Tassey, an older woman( perhaps in her early 40s). They talk about her being too old to work and about her mild drug habit. Rose is adamantly wishing Miss Tassey would move out. Miss Limberton comes in and tells them Miss Tassey has been let go from her workplace. They discuss the older lady''s future--she has no family or relatives, and missed her chance, they say, at marriage. Rose at first wants assurance that the old lady can''t hear them, and then says that it is too still.
Finally, they check on her, and must send for the doctor, as they find her dead. Rose is torn with remorse for what she said (ironically as the lady lay dying), and the officials who come in say they haven''t time to think of her (Rose) right now (the unconscious narcissism of youth and its innocence gone in a moment, perhaps forever). Ms. Baker has written a play of such pathos and terrible beauty that one can scarcely bear to think of it as a commentary upon the lives and deaths of women before there was suffrage and a more humane attitude to the poor, single, and unbefriended women, of whom there were undoubtedly thousands in London and the larger British cities in the early years of the 20th century. Only after the First World War, when those numbers swelled to the tens of thousands, due to the losses of young men in battle, did the problem attain such proportions that public opinion and society''s treatment of women in such circumstances really improve.