The story of a simple soul catapulated out of his station in life. Young Artie Kipps is desperate to escape a living death in the retail trade. Embarking on self-improvement, he allows first a lady, then an unexpected legacy, to turn his head - until, paradoxically, 'ruin' saves him. H.G. Wells pokes fun at a whole gallery of social pretention - from the savoir faire of high society, through the pomp and gravitas of playwrights and socialists, to middle class snobbery - in his witty portrait of a draper's assistant bent on acquiring refinement.