In Belgium in 1903, widowed Madame Bodamere is remarried to a rich American, who insists that she leave her young daughter Jeanne behind with the child's nurse Marie. Several years later, the mother comes back to reclaim her child, but Marie, not wanting to give up Jeanne, tells the mother that the child is dead. When Belgium is invaded in 1914, Marie fears for Jeanne's safety and sends her, now a teenager, to America along with a letter to Jeanne's mother confessing Marie's deception. On the trip, Jeanne picks up two young Belgian orphans and takes them with her. Jeanne finds her mother living on a large estate, and is repeatedly denied the chance to explain who she is. She ends up taking a job as a maid in her mother's mansion, and claiming the two orphans as her own. Meanwhile, her mother grows increasingly despondent, and her marriage soon stands on shaky ground.