Countess Schach is ill and her estate is impoverished. Fortunately, the daughter Cecilia is responsible for the household and the upbringing of the younger siblings. One day, the composer cousin Ernst comes to visit, and when he sees the financial predicament the family is in, he promises Cecilia to complete his opera and earn enough money to save the estate.
When the Countess’ old friend, Princess von Staffenfeldt, offers Cecilia employment as a lady-in-waiting and governess, she accepts and soon after meets the Princess’ son, who after some time asks for her hand in marriage. Cecilia is now faced with a difficult choice: Should she marry the Prince who can save the family, and thereby break off the engagement with her true love, cousin Ernst? A dark tragedy seals her fate.