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Dan Pritchard is a partner with his father at the San Francisco-based shipping company Pritchard and Pritchard. Dan is engaged to socialite Maisie Morrisson, but is frustrated by Maisie's aloofness and refusal to set a wedding date. When Dan responds to a message from Captain Larrieau, a close friend of his father, that requests he meet him at his docked ship, he learns that the seaman has contracted leprosy. After reminding the young shipping official that his will is located in Dan's office, Larrieau informs Dan that upon his death, the Pritchards will have sole custody of his wild, young, half-Polynesian daughter Tamea. Before committing suicide, Larrieau asks Dan to assure that Tamea will be given good education and married to a suitable husband. Tamea, who grew up in the islands, soon finds herself in unaccustomed surroundings when she is taken to the swank Pritchard mansion and presented to their servants. The rebellious young girl, who insists on remaining barefoot, is awed by the Pritchards' modern trappings and begs not to be sent away. Much to everyone's dismay, Tamea falls in love with Dan and begins to flaunt her affection for him before the others. While at a party, Dan's friend Mark Mellenger, concerned about Dan's growing attraction to Tamea, tells the girl that Dan must "mate" with a white woman rather than her. Angered by his remark, Tamea confronts Dan, who is talking to Maisie. When Maisie tries to soothe Tamea by cooing that she should not be ashamed that she is not white, Tamea storms out and Dan chastises Maisie for her insensitive comment. Dan follows Tamea home, where she seduces him. As Dan falls in love with the passionate Tamea, he loses his ardor for Maisie. When Dan's father, upset that his son has fallen in love with the Polynesian girl, sends her back to the island, Dan follows her. On the island, Tamea and Dan live as lovers in their idyllic surroundings until Dan discovers that Tamea has a jealous suitor, Tolongo. Distressed by the oppressive heat and primitive customs of the island and jealous over Tamea's relationship with Tolongo, Dan begins to frequent a bar owned by another Westerner, where he spends his time drinking with Porter, an expatriate drunk. After scrapping with Tolongo, the drunken and embittered Dan later whips Tamea, but they make up with a kiss. When Maisie arrives on the island to bring Dan home, he blames her aloofness for driving him to Tamea and the island. After Maisie tells Dan that she loves him and wants to marry him, he insists that he must sober up and reclaim himself before joining her. Accepting his terms, Maisie leaves him and goes to wait for the return boat home, which will not arrive for one month. One month later, as Maisie stands on the boat's deck, she starts crying when she sees the now-redeemed Dan walking up the gangplank. When the drunken Porter expresses regret that he does not have the courage to return home, Dan pulls him aboard. As Tamea watches Dan's boat sail away, she welcomes Tolongo back into her arms.