Maurice Traherne is wrongly accused of fraud and gambling and must play a careful hand if he is to win his love, Octavia, from the grasp of other, less honorable men and retain the trust of those who had faith in him. Traherne is temporarily crippled saving the life of his well-born friend, Jaspar. Thus, Jaspar is assured of inheriting his father's estate, but it is expected that Traherne will inherit great wealth as gratitude for saving the heir. But--surprise!--on the death of Jaspar's father all are shocked to learn that Traherne has been disinherited: the will has been changed at the last minute and only the suffering Traherne knows why but won't tell and then he falls in love with Jaspar's sister, the fair Octavia. However, Octavia is forbidden to marry, as Traherne is penniless.
"How goes it, Frank? Down first, as usual." "The early bird gets the worm, Major." "Deuced ungallant speech, considering that the lovely Octavia is the worm," and with a significant laugh the major assumed an Englishman's favorite attitude before the fire.