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The once wealthy Lorrimore family of New York tries to maintain their dignity, even though they are riddled with debts. The family's hopes lay in elder son Brighton, but when he returns after a year in the South, he shocks his mother, sister Martha, and ne'er-do-well brother Clancey by revealing that he is married to a poor young woman named Phyllis. Although Mrs. Lorrimore feigns some regard for her, Phyllis soon realizes that she is not accepted, and wealthy sausage heiress Edith Gilbert, who had been the family's choice for Brighton, is the only person who is genuinely fond of her. Their disappointment in Phyllis changes, however, when their wealthy cousin Martin Deering takes an interest in her. Phyllis wants to leave with Brighton so that he can start the writing career he has wanted, but she soon realizes that money is too important for him and the family and begins seeing the charming Martin to further Brighton's career. Soon gossips are talking about the relationship and Martha wants her mother to put a stop to it. Instead, however, she encourages Phyllis and when Brighton is away on an important business trip to Mexico, she and Martin become lovers. The family soon hears more gossip and warns her to be discreet and not tell Brighton, but her conscience will not let her. The couple quarrel after he returns from Mexico during which she reveals the truth and leaves him. She starts working as a salesgirl in an exclusive dress shop and, although Martin wants to marry her, she refuses. She advises Edith to marry Brighton, but one evening he meets her at the store and asks her to come back. They then decide to start life over and live on money that they earn by hard work.