We are introduced to Englishman Dudley Thorpe on the evening of his arrival in California. At a ball, he is introduced to several belles, including the lovely Nina Randolph. Is this the start of something special? Dudley thinks so, but what about Nina? Why won't she open herself up to love? She is obviously attracted to Dudley. What is the dark secret she is hiding? Will it make a difference to Dudley's feelings? Who will be there for her in her time of need? Dudley or her odious cousin, Richard Clough? And what will San Francisco society make of it all?