Missed The Orphans' Home Cycle, Part 2: The Story of a Marriage, or want to catch up on what happened before you see Part 3: The Story of a Family? Here's a summary of what happened:
In 1912, Horace is living in Harrison in a boarding house with three other young men who are prone to gambling and drinking. On the night before he leaves for business school in Houston, Horace calls on the widow Claire Ratliff. Throughout the evening, Horace becomes further entangled in the lives of Claire and her young children as she fends off a violent suitor and decides between two marriage proposals. Claire decides to marry Ned, an older traveling salesman whom her children adore, and Horace departs for Houston. In 1916, Horace is courting Elizabeth Vaughn, but Elizabeth’s parents believe Horace to be wild and refuse to allow the relationship. The two elope on Valentine’s Day, 1917.
By Christmas Eve, Horace and Elizabeth are expecting their first child and living in Mrs. Pate’s boarding house. The couple is visited by a motley assortment of friends and neighbors, including the mentally deteriorating George Tyler, an old friend of Horace’s father. The Vaughns, who have not spoken to their daughter since her marriage, end their estrangement by visiting the couple on Christmas Day. With them is their son, Brother Vaughn, whose drinking, gambling, and poor college grades cause the family to worry. Although Mr. Vaughn initially dismisses Horace and Elizabeth’s home as a rented room, he finds himself repeatedly drawn back to it and its “peace and contentment." George Tyler takes his own life, and the Vaughns offer to buy Horace and Elizabeth a house.