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Michael West, a divinity student, returns home to visit his ailing father Mortimer and falls in love with the old man's youthful nurse, Lillian Marchand. One evening, Lillian, inspired by the strains of distant music, dances gleefully in the garden, and Mortimer, secretly watching her, is seized with passion. Although Lillian struggles against him, Mortimer embraces her and then collapses, causing Michael to blame her for his father's death. Hurt and disillusioned, Lillian enters into a dissolute life as the dancer Poppea, and Michael's cousin, Reggie West, soon becomes the most ardent of her suitors. Visiting her to plead the boy's cause, Michael embraces Lillian, but Reggie sees them and commits suicide. Michael again rejects Lillian, whereupon she hosts a party at which she offers herself to the highest bidder. She is saved by Michael's offer of a bunch of lilies, and with all mistrust dispelled, they begin anew.