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Having made eleven million dollars in Alaska during the gold strike, Elam Harnish, known as "Burning Daylight," leaves for San Francisco, unaware that Nell, a dance hall girl who loves him, has killed herself because of his departure. In San Francisco, Harnish nearly loses his fortune to scheming financiers but emerges from the experience a formidable competitor in the financial world. His life in the city, however, makes him cruel and dependent on pleasure. Gradually he realizes that he is in love with his stenographer, Dede Mason, who resists his courtship. Eventually Harnish, forced to choose between Dede and his fortune, sacrifices his money and returns to Alaska with Dede.