Count Rodrigo Torriani, a young Italian, has inherited a debt-ridden palace on the Bay of Naples and a fondness for women. He accepts the offer of New York antique dealer Jack Dorning to work in his shop, and there he falls genuinely in love with Jack's secretary, Mary Drake. Rodrigo is pursued by Elise Van Zile, a worldly-wise woman ambitious to marry him for his money--until she learns that Rodrigo is penniless. Elise turns her attentions, successfully, to Jack, and they get married. She tries to have an affair with Rodrigo on the side, but he at first rejects her. Later, Elise meets Rodrigo at a hotel, but he becomes conscience-stricken and leaves. The hotel burns down, killing Elise. Jack becomes frantic about his wife's disappearance, but Rodrigo leaves town, saying nothing. He returns a year later, learns that Jack knows the truth about Elise, and notes that Jack has regained his equanimity under Mary's care. Although he realizes that Mary's love is his for the asking, he treats their relationship casually and sails away, leaving Jack and Mary to their happiness.