Mrs. Chichester, her son Alaric, and daughter Ethel, all of Scarborough, England, have just learned that their fortune has been lost due to a bank failure. In the midst of this, Christian Brent comes to call, and apparently, although he is married, he has been actively wooing Ethel. A beautiful girl of eighteen enters the room and quietly sits down to wait. Thinking her a servant, Ethel sends her to the kitchen.
Next, a solicitor, Montgomery Hawkes, arrives and informs Mrs. Chichester of the death of her brother, Nathaniel. Unfortunately, her brother has left none of his considerable fortune to his immediate relations.
However, if the daughter of his other sister, Angela, can receive a proper education and be taught manners and breeding, the family who would provide such training is to receive one thousand pounds a year. If the child proves to be the lady it is hoped she will become, she will receive five thousand pounds a year. The child, of course, is the girl sent to the kitchen as a servant, Peg. She knows nothing of the will. Since the Chichesters are in dire financial straits, they agree to take her in. One condition of the will, however, is that Peg can know nothing of the situation.
Jerry comes to call. Peg, having been told not to leave her room, decides to come down to the parlor anyway. There, she meets Jerry, who is charmed by her honesty and beauty. He offers very sincerely to be her friend, but she isn’t quite convinced, and wants to return to New York and her father. Jerry convinces her to stay for one month.
One month later, with Peg settling in, Brent again comes to call. Finding Peg reading alone, he tries to kiss her and is slapped for his efforts. Brent assures Ethel that he has no interest in Peg. He eventually informs her that he is leaving his wife for good, trying to convince her to run away with him the next night.
Mrs. Chichester and Peg have a brief confrontation about whether she wants to stay on or not. Ethel enters, and Peg attempts to strike a truce with her, perhaps even forge a friendship.
Jerry arrives and asks Peg to attend a dance with him that evening. Permission for the dance is denied by Mrs. Chichester, but Peg tells Jerry she will sneak down and meet him after everyone is in bed.
As Peg creeps up the stairs after the dance, she meets Ethel coming down, carrying a traveling bag. Ethel has decided to run away with Brent, and Peg is determined to stop her. Finally, Ethel is convinced, and the two girls make their way up the stairs. Near the top, Peg slips and rolls back down the stairs, waking the whole household. Peg hurriedly puts on Ethel’s hat and coat and takes the traveling bag. She deflects attention from Ethel by confessing to taking jewelry and the hat and coat from Ethel’s room because she wanted to wear them at the dance. Jerry enters, having the heard the noise, and Peg learns that he is a titled nobleman. Peg declares that she is going home to New York.
The next act finds Mrs. Chichester and Alaric wondering what is to become of them if Peg leaves. Out of desperation, they decide that Alaric must propose marriage. Peg enters, and Alaric proposes, ecstatic at her refusal.
Hawkes arrives and agrees to arrange passage for Peg. Jerry reminds him that that he, Sir Gerald Adair, is the executor of the late Mr. Kingsworth’s will. Jerry insists that Peg be made aware of the contents and full implications of the will. In addition, it has been learned that the bank that holds the Chichester funds has reopened its doors.
Ethel apologizes to Peg for the shabby treatment she has received and thanks her for protecting her the night before. Jerry, who obviously has no need of her money, convinces Peg of his love for her and proposes marriage, which she accepts.