Lizzie Miller worries about her beautiful eldest daughter. A mother shouldn't have favourites, but Ruby wins a special place in Lizzie's heart. Money is short in their little house in Blackburn, and Ruby yearns to give her beloved family a better life. Determined to enjoy the security only wealth can bring, she stifles her feelings for handsome Johnny Ackroyd. Ruby knows he cannot offer her the life she craves. She works as a maid for Mr Banks and his daughter, Cicely. The two girls hatch a mischievous plan to introduce Ruby to society at a party for the 'gentry' of Blackburn, where Ruby meets Luke Arnold, the dissolute heir to his father's fortunes. Seeing Ruby's dark beauty, he determines to despoil her innocence. When Luke slyly turns his charm on Cicely, Ruby feels compelled to warn her friend of his evil nature. Ruby quickly finds employment in a milliner's shop, and eventually takes over the business. But her worldly success still leaves an emptiness that riches cannot fill, and Ruby learns at last that the love of family and friends is beyond price...