The old man himself, Hakon Werle, has allegedly driven his sick wife to her death by carrying on love affairs in his own home. First he caused his young serving girl, Gina, to become pregnant. Arranging her marriage with Hialmar Ekdal, the son of his former partner, Werle also provided money for the young man to take up the profession of photography. Hialmar is pleased with his marriage and believes that Gina's child is his own daughter, now fourteen years old. At present, Werle lives with his housekeeper, Mrs. Sorby, and intends to marry her. Both have no secrets about their past life and have exposed to each other all their previous connections.