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Laura Murdock and her siblings live in poverty and work hard to support their indolent father Ben, an out-of-work longshoreman who would rather live off his children than find another job. Although Ben and his wife Agnes are eager to see their daughter Peg marry Nick, because he makes a decent income, Laura tells them that she would rather marry for love. One day, while working at her department store job, Laura is approached by a man from the Brockton Advertising Agency, who offers her a modelling job at his fashionable agency. Laura accepts the offer and on her first visit to the agency befriends Elfie, a veteran model, who gives her some learned advice about the profession. Soon after starting at the agency, Laura is called in to meet Willard Brockton, the head of the agency, who, upon learning that Laura has no boyfriend, convinces her to join him for a drive through the park. Laura quickly becomes successful at modelling and finds an elegant city apartment. No sooner does Laura find success, however, than her mother refuses to see her because she is convinced that her daughter has changed for the worse. Brockton continues to woo Laura by inviting her to move into his luxury apartment and showering her with gifts. When Laura visits her sister Peg, who is now married to Nick and has a child, her showy wealth meets with resentment from Nick, who asks her to leave. While vacationing with Brockton in Colorado, Laura meets newspaper reporter Jack Madison, and they soon fall in love. When Jack takes a long overseas assignment, Laura, who promised to leave Brockton and wait for him to return, tells her boss that their relationship is through. Brockton responds by requesting the return of his gifts and then sticking Laura with the room bill. Destitute, Laura takes a job at Macy's department store and asks Elfie to loan her some money, but Elfie refuses. Later, Ben visits Laura with news that her mother is gravely ill and in need of money for a stomach specialist. He also tells her that she is still disgusted with her lifestyle and does not want to see her. Following her mother's death, the desperate Laura calls Brockton, and though he refuses to loan her money, he takes her back on the condition that she write Jack and inform him that their relationship is finished. Soon after she returns to Brockton, Jack returns from South America and calls Laura. Brockton eavesdrops on the telephone conversation and later threatens to tell Jack about their relationship himself. Laura, however, promises to tell Jack as soon as he shows up. When Elfie drops in on Laura, broke, widowed and wanting to borrow money, Laura gives her a piece of jewelry. Elfie then advises Laura to marry Jack right away and leave Brockton. Laura's plan to elope with Jack crumbles when Brockton returns home unexpectedly, sees her packed bags and informs Jack about her life with him. Though Laura tries to explain the situation, Jack is angered and leaves her. The devastated Laura then leaves Brockton and goes to Peg's on Christmas Eve. Outside their house, Laura stands in the street and sadly watches her family enjoying the holiday. Nick, upon discovering Laura in such a ruined state, has a change of heart and tries to comfort her with a prediction that Jack will come looking for her someday.