Set in the 19th century Warsaw. The indolence of aristocrats who, secure with their pensions, are too lazy to undertake new business risks, frustrates Wokulski. His ability to make money is respected but his lack of family and social rank is condescended to. Because of his "help" (in secret) to "the doll's" impecunious but influential father, the girl becomes aware of his affection. In the end she consents to accept him, but without the true devotion.