Things are awry below stairs. A stolen coin has been found in the room of Blake, one of the maids. When confronted she pleads family trouble, and begs for mercy.
She has served the house well, so her employers hear her out. But they are stern in the face of her pleading: order must be maintained, after all. They would prefer not to take this to the authorities, and she is therefore offered a private punishment to suit the severity of her crime. Even family circumstances won't save her from 50 cold strokes of the cane.