Nearest and Dearest: On the death of their father Joshua, siblings Eli and Nellie Pledge inherit the family business, Pledges Purer Pickles, at Colne, Lancashire, in the north of England. Their faithful workers include the myopic Stan Hardman, Bert Taylor and Grenville. Transport is provided by Storm the cart horse. Never far away are second cousin Lily and her husband Walter. While Nellie works hard to keep the business going, Eli prefers to indulge in the delights of beer, cigarettes and young women.