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Soon after her wedding, American hardware heiress Pearl Saunders discovers that her groom, Lord George Grayston, has married her only for her money and intends to continue his relationship with his noble but poor girl friend. Although crushed, Pearl remains married and, after five years of determined, calculated socializing, gains acceptance by England's most particular aristocrats. She is also adored by her own circle of rich ex-patriate Americans, who include Minnie, a divorced duchess, the gossip-loving Thornton Clay, Flora, a sincere philanthropic princess, and Arthur Fenwick, her doting, older lover and benefactor. Pearl introduces her younger sister Bessie to English society and encourages her to pursue a relationship with Lord Harry Bleane. Bessie, who is loved by the unassuming American Fleming Harvey, hesitates to accept Harry's proposals but is overwhelmed by the excitement of British high society and happily joins her sister for a weekend party at the Grayston country estate. There, Pearl is wooed by Minnie's gigolo, the lazy, faithless Pepi D'Costa, and is seen by Minnie slipping away for a rendezvous with him. Outraged, Minnie plots to have Bessie catch Pearl with Pepi, and the still innocent Bessie, who has finally accepted Harry's proposal at Pearl's urging, is stunned by her discovery. Exposed in front of her guests, Pearl retreats to her room, while a furious Minnie plans her immediate departure for London. To avoid the gossip and ridicule of the society that she has so painstakingly cultivated, Pearl plots to keep Minnie in the country and, using her versatile charms, re-ingratiates herself with the rest of her company. When Bessie denounces her as a hypocritical manipulator, however, Pearl has a moment of self-doubt and, to save Bessie, begs Harry to break his engagement. After Bessie reunites with the devoted Fleming, Pearl returns to her social "throne" and, with the help of Ernest, a foppish dance instructor that she has brought in from London, convinces the dance-crazy Minnie to stay another night to learn the latest tango step.