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Scene I: Hiram's sister, Miranda, plans his marriage to Fanny. The scene opens with a view of the old homestead where Hiram and Miranda grew up and where they have been living alone since the death of their parents. It is the early evening of a summer day. Through the door comes Miranda and with her is Fanny, the only daughter of a well-to-do farmer, whose spreading acres adjoin those of Hiram. It is Miranda's plan that Hiram and Fanny must marry. Fanny is a silly, flighty girl, fond of admiration, and ill-suited to be the wife of an earnest young farmer like Hiram, but to this fact Miranda is blind, seeing only the material advantage of such a union. Hiram returns from the barn, where he has been helping the hired men with the chores. Miranda tells Hiram to see Fanny to her home. Hiram demurs, pleading work, but at last yields good-naturedly and departs with the simpering, gushing Fanny leaning on his arm. Miranda watches them disappear with a pleased look on her face, for she sees ...