Louise, the daughter of a lowly musician, has begun a relationship with Ferdinand, son of the important court official President Walter, which her father's realism causes him to deplore. She is also wooed by Wurm, Walter's secretary, but both she and her father dislike him. Walter, meanwhile, plans to marry his son to Lady Milford, his ruler's former mistress, but Ferdinand remains as loyal to Louise as she to him. At a confrontation at Miller's home, the musician speaks boldly to Walter in defence of his daughter's honour and is arrested, followed closely by his wife and daughter, and only Ferdinand's threat to reveal the criminal means by which his father won his position forces him to allow them to remain free and withdraw. Wurm next plans an intrigue to separate the lovers: Miller and his wife shall be quietly arrested and Louise offered the choice of writing a letter that proves her apparent unfaithfulness as a means of freeing them. She reluctantly agrees, and the letter is passed on to Ferdinand. Now that her father has been released and the letter delivered, Louise plans to kill herself. Ferdinand enters her home with the news that Lady Milford has departed and he is free to marry her. Her apparent disinterest convinces him of her faithlessness, and she admits to writing the letter Wurm forced from her. Ferdinand poisons the drink he and Louise are to share, and as she dies Louise confesses the falsity of the letter. Walter arrives in time to see his son die and receive his forgiveness.