Captain George D’Alroy, who is the son of the Marquise de St. Maur, has fallen in love with a lowly ballet dancer, Esther Eccles. Despite the practical remonstrances from his friend, Captain Hawtree, about the differences in their class and respectability, and the problem of her drunkard father Eccles, George is determined to marry Esther and risk the wrath of his mother and society. This he duly does and the couple set up home in George’s lodgings in Mayfair. However, George has been unable to bring himself to tell Esther that he been commissioned to serve in India and must therefore leave her. Before he can tell her, a surprise visit from his mother forces the truth to come out, whilst also revealing George’s secret marriage.
One year later, Esther is back in her family home, with a baby but without a husband, as George has been reported killed in India. Her father has spent the money George left for her on drink, and she is once again poor and forced to try and get work on the stage. Her sister, Polly, is helping her to bring up the baby but Polly will soon be married to the ambitious tradesman, Sam. Fed up with their penniless lot in life, Esther’s father decides to tell George’s mother about the baby and appeal for money. Esther is horrified when the Marchioness suggests bringing up the baby herself in return for financial assistance, and refuses outright. However, Esther’s plight is soon over as George suddenly appears. He was taken prisoner in India but managed to escape. With the return of her husband, her mother-in-law’s acceptance of their marriage, and Captain Hawtree’s offer to give Eccles a weekly allowance so he can drink himself to death, Esther’s life is back on track.