Hermine, daughter of the rich businessman Frymann is returning home to Zurich, after a long stay in French-speaking Switzerland, to comply with her father's wish that she marry Ruckstuhl, a rich local businessman. Frymann is planning a major building project, and without the help of Ruckstuhl he will not be able to finance it. The plan seems a perfect one after all - money in exchange for love. But Frymann has forgotten about Karl, the son of an impoverished tailor whose family has for generations been indebted to the Frymanns. Karl and Hermine were childhood sweethearts, and he still secretly pines for her. As for Hermine, she is unable to make up her mind. Should she help defend her father's interests? Yield to the elegant Zurich man about town? And what about her first love? Only if the young Karl finally escapes from the shadow of his father and at last begins to mature will he indeed manage to win the love of Hermine.