While her fiancé studies law, an immigrant woman falls in love with his best friend, who spurns her and is falsely convicted of theft.
Bank teller John Hanson (Conrad Nagel) buys stock and is let off early to welcome Helga Larson (Betty Compson) off the boat. Anna Larson (Bodil Rosing) welcomes her to the boarding house and tells her to speak American. Flirting Phil Wilson (Robert Ames) helps open Helga's trunk. John shows Helga plans for their house; but she is bored while he studies law, and she goes out with Phil. Anna warns John about Phil, and so John asks Phil to lay off Helga. Phil says no problem and tells Helga he can't take her out anymore. John sees Helga crying and tells Anna he will marry Helga soon. Phil leaves the bank early and goes off with Helga. John plans the first payment on his house but is told he needs $10,000 to save his stocks. John takes cash from Phil's bank drawer. Phil wins with Helga at the races. By a river Phil gives Helga a ring, and she agrees to be his wife as he kisses her. John looks at his marriage license as he waits with Anna. Phil tells Helga to keep it secret. Anna and John question Helga and Phil, and Helga says that she is marrying Phil. John asks Phil when. Phil tells Helga he is moving to their apartment and gets her ring. Police Lt. Tom Rooney (Robert Emmett O'Connor) keeps Phil from leaving town and takes him to the bank. Phil is accused of stealing $10,000. John overhears Phil say he was leaving because of a tramp girl and that he is married. Phil is sentenced to prison.
John raises a family with Helga. Rooney is now inspector, and on their son Tommy's birthday John asks Helga to celebrate; but she is going out. John tells Rooney that he is wealthy but afraid of his conscience. Phil escapes from prison. Helga brings home friends, who carouse around Tommy (Dickie Moore). John tells Helga to send her friends home. John puts Tommy in his bed and asks Helga to stop it. John knows that Helga still loves Phil, and he calls Rooney. John tells Helga that Phil is innocent and will be free, admitting he stole the $10,000. John tells Tommy that he is going away and gives him his watch. Phil sneaks in, drinks, and eats. Phil tells Helga that he left her to John. Phil hides before Rooney comes in. Helga tells Rooney to go; but John confesses. Phil overhears and says he will go to the cops. In the yard Phil is shot by police. Rooney comes back in and calls an ambulance for the wounded Phil. John turns himself in, and Helga says that she will wait for him, though Rooney hopes he will get off when he pays back the money.
This love triangle explores the two men's different temperaments and life-styles that come into conflict over an immigrant woman. Phil lives for momentary pleasures, while John calculates and plans for success with law and outside it. John learns that betraying his friend made himself unhappy too.