Father Virgil Adams is recovering from an illness and eager to go back to work for his boss, Mr. J.A. Lamb, but his wife is harping on him to try and make more money so their unmarried daughter, Alice, can have more prospects. Alice is getting ready for a big dance party at the Palmers' house, escorted by her uninterested brother, Wally, who also works for Mr. Lamb. At the party, it's obvious that Alice is not in the same social class as the hosts and the guests. Besides Wally, Alice can only find one other dance partner, the lumpish Frank Dowling, to dance with. She uses several ruses to look like she's uninterested, but she's dying inside. She's seen a man, Arthur Russell, who interests her, but hears he is supposed to be engaged soon to the hosts' daughter Mildred. Lo and behold, Arthur asks Alice for a dance when she's all but resigned to being a wallflower. After the dance, he helps Alice locate her brother, who is found gambling with the servants. Alice is mortified, heads home with Wally and cries in her bedroom. His father overhears her.
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Alice is about to apply to a business skills school when she is surprised by Arthur Russell, who has come looking for her. He likes her and wants to take her to a party being thrown by J.A. Lamb's family. Alice hasn't been invited and makes up an excuse. Mrs. Adams throws this social slight in her husband's face and pushes him to consider using the glue formula he invented while working for J.A. Lamb to make money. Distraught over Alice's suffering, Mr. Adams gives in, sends J.A. Lamb a resignation letter and commences opening a glue works factory using all his savings, plus mortgaging his house. Arthur continues to see Alice, but being ashamed of her house and her family's status, she tells all kinds of half-truths and never takes him inside until her mother suggests it's high time they had him to dinner. Meanwhile, Wally suddenly asks his father for $150, which Mr. Adam of course cannot give him.
The day of the dinner, the weather is unearably hot and the menu has been unwisely chosen. Everything wilts and looks shabbier than ever. The "maid" hired by the Adams is hilariously unrefined. Arthur, who has just a little earlier heard some bad gossip about Alice and her father, hardly talks or eats. Wally turns up suddenly to talk to his father and they are overheard shouting. It turns out Wally has embezzled $150 from J.A. Lamb for a friend, who hasn't returned the money, and now Mr. Lamb has discovered the missing funds. Alice tells Arthur good-bye and sends him away. But then J.A. Lamb himself turns up at the Adams house to announce that he's going to open up a glue factory too, a really big one. Virgil Adams knows he is ruined, but swears to repay Wally's debt. And only when Alice courageously faces up to the truth and tells things like they are can the Adams' fortunes finally turn.