The Squire of the little village of Tatham in the Cambridgeshire Fens is faced with a problem. He has been so unwise as to sire five healthy sons and cannot provide for them from his little estate. The eldest should be his obedient heir, but proves undutiful.
The second is disposed of to the Church, but does not much like his fate.
A third son wishes to take to the sea, but finds unexpected problems and opportunities on his way.
The fourth is an idle lad and has never shone – he is despatched to the Militia where he succeeds all too well.
Youngest of all, Caius, is sent off to India, aged sixteen, to join his uncle as a country merchant and finds much to his liking there.
Dispersed to all quarters of the world, the five slowly begin to come together again, though not as they expect and their poor father might have hoped.