Sophie loved Edmund, but he left town when her parents forced her to marry wealthy Octavius. Years later, Edmund returns with his son, William. Sophie's daughter, Marguerite, and William fall in love. Marguerite's sister, Marianne, also loves William. Timothy, a lowly carpenter, secretly loves Marianne. He kills a man in a fight, and Edmund helps him flee to New Zealand. William deserts inadvertently from the navy, and also flees in disgrace to New Zealand, where he and Timothy start a profitable business. One night, drunk, William writes Octavius, demanding his daughter's hand; but, being drunk, he asks for the wrong sister.