In Germany, chemist's daughter Thymian (Louise Brooks) is raped by her father's assistant. When she becomes pregnant and bears a child but refuses to marry her assaulter, her outraged father sends her to a brutal reformatory. Thymian soon escapes with a friend, Erika (Edith Meinhard), only to learn that her child has died. She then finds Erika working at a brothel and, with no other option, joins her. Gradually, Thymian works her way higher by marrying a count, but her past haunts her.