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Helga, born out of wedlock, has been an object of scorn to her uncle, Karl Ohlin. Certain that only an early marriage will keep her from the same fate as her mother, Karl arranges for Helga to wed loutish farmer Jeb Mondstrom. The night before their proposed wedding, however, Mondstrom tries to rape Helga and she runs away. In a heavy rainstorm Helga makes her way to a nearby house and is befriended by Rodney Spencer, a young architect. Rodney's kindness changes Helga's view of men, and the two fall in love. Rodney proposes just before an important business trip, but Helga must again run away when Ohlin and Mondstrom find her. She jumps on a circus train in Lenoxville and is befriended by Madame Panoramia, the tattooed lady, who introduces her to Burlingham, the circus owner, as Susan Lenox. Helga writes Rodney to meet her in Marquette, but before he arrives, she is forced to become Burlingham's mistress when he hides her from Ohlin and Mondstrom. When Rodney realizes what her relationship to Burlingham is, he rejects her as a tramp. Heartbroken, Helga goes from one man to another until she becomes the mistress of wealthy New York politician Mike Kelly. In the meantime, Rodney has ruined his career by drinking. Helga, now known as Mrs. Lenox, secretly arranges for Rodney to attend one of her dinner parties and tries to humiliate him, but when he leaves, she realizes that she still loves him. She follows him, but he is gone. Despite Mike's plea for her to come back, she travels from city to city looking for Rodney, eventually winding up as a singer in a waterfront dive in Latin America. She has learned that Rodney is working on a construction crew in the jungle and plans to wait for his return, despite that fact that kindly millionaire Robert Lane wants to marry her. When Rodney does wander into the dive and sees Helga, he only wants her like any other waterfront girl. She throws him out in disillusionment and plans to meet Robert on his yacht, but the next day she goes to see Rodney one last time. Sober for once, Rodney realizes that he has been wrong, and they both decide to stop hurting each other and start to love again.