The Marquis of Alchester is furious when his horse in the Derby Stakes of 1831 finishes in a dead heat, purely because of the unsporting behaviour of the rival horse's owner, the Earl of Branscombe. The Marquis is doubly incensed when he hears that the Earl is arrogantly talking about marrying his Ward, who is an immensely wealthy heiress and he needs her riches to support his extravagant lifestyle. Bent on revenge, the Marquis visits an orphanage on his estate in search of an orphan waif he can pass of as his Ward and marry her to the unsuspecting Earl who has never the real Ward. Plucked from the hell of starvation and abuse at the hands of a wicked matron, the beautiful young Kistna is in Heaven at the Marquis's magnificent house and soon finds that she is falling in love. But it seems inevitable that she is condemned to hell after all when the Marquis breaks her heart by offering her hand to the unpleasant and grasping Earl of Branscombe.