John Harmon is a young man estranged from his family, yet on his way from South Africa to London to receive his inheritance. But, according to his father's will, he can only claim it if he marries Bella Wilfer, a beautiful London girl whom he has never met. Before John arrives to claim his birthright, an unknown body is found drowned in the Thames and identified as him. The money passes instead to family servants Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, who welcome into their home the disappointed bride-to-be. But when their associate Silas Wegg tries to blackmail the Boffins with an alternative will, Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.