Philip Caresfoot resides with Devil, his father, and his manipulative cousin George. Philip's father wishes him to marry the heiress Maria Lee but, despite being fond of Maria, Philip falls in love with her friend, the beautiful German, Hilda. Philip becomes secretly engaged to Maria and then secretly marries Hilda. In order to force his hand, his father publicly announces Philip's engagement to Maria and threatens to disinherit him in favour of George should he not marry her. Having subsequently learned of Philip's marriage, Devil confronts him and, having told him that he has written him out of his will, dies of a heart attack when Philip withholds his medicine. Hilda gives birth to Angela and then dies.
Philip is desperate to buy back his father's estate from George, whose ward Arthur Heigham falls in love with the beautiful Angela. George too desires Angela and coerces Lady Bellamy, a former lover, to help him. At her suggestion that Angela's marriage to George might solve the estate question, Philip eventually agrees to insist that Angela and Arthur should part for a year.
Arthur travels to Madeira and on the voyage meets Mildred Carr, a rich widow who falls in love with him. Meanwhile, Angela resolutely refuses to consider marrying George. The Bellamys go to Madeira, where Arthur ill-advisedly confides in Lady Bellamy and allows her to persuade him to entrust to her a ring that she undertakes to pass to Angela in England as a token of Arthur's continuing love. Meanwhile, Arthur resists Mildred's advances, and they part.
Lady Bellamy tells Angela that Arthur is dead of fever in Madeira and shows her the ring as well as a forged farewell letter from Arthur and his forged death certificate. Believing Arthur is dead and that George is terminally ill, Angela, against all her inclinations, finally gives way to her father's urging and marries George. Arthur returns to England on the following day, learns of the marriage, denounces Angela and hurries off back to Mildred. Angela goes mad and George is mauled to death by Arthur's bulldog. Bellamy, in an act of revenge for his wife's infidelities, reveals her plot, and she takes poison but survives, paralyzed.
Angela recovers her sanity, writes to Arthur and sets off to Madeira to see him in person.