Major Hugo Darracot is the unwelcome heir to a cherished title. When he is summoned to his grandfather's estate, so the elderly man can meet his future heir, Hugo comes unwillingly. He decides that for the time being, there is no use attempting to contradict the image of a simpleton his family believe him to be.
Hugo's younger cousin rebels against his grandfather's control, becoming involved in the ‘Free Trade', better known as smuggling. The determined Custom's Control officer, Lieutenant Ottershaw, is convinced that he can catch the young Richmond at his game, thus ruining the name of the family who has humiliated him in all his attempts to stop the trade.
Another of Hugo's cousins, Claud, a certified dandy, is convinced that Hugo is in need of a desperate makeover; his decidedly common way of speech and dress must be rectified before he can be presented to the world as the future heir to the .. estate. Both he and his deprecating brother, Vincent, believe that Hugo is not only coarse, but stupid. It is only the wilful Anthea who sees through Hugo's façade, and she is devastated when she realises that he is in fact a lot more wealthy than anyone had imagined; she had refused his previous offer of marriage, saying (jokingly) that he was not wealthy enough for her. Now if she marries him, everyone will think her a gold-digger. Can Hugo convince her that he believes in her?
Hugo's moment to shine comes when Richmond, running from the Customs officers, is shot, and must present himself to said officers, unharmed, or be arrested. It is Hugo who devises the plan that could save Richmond and the family from ruin…
This report prepared by M. Cole