When compulsive gambler Sir Giles Staverley (Christopher Plummer) has lost his estate and all of his money playing dice, he realizes that he only has one thing left of value: his daughter Serena (Helena Bonham Carter). In a final game, he stakes his daughter's hand in marriage, convinced that this time he will not lose. Unfortunately, however, he does lose; to the evil Lord Harry Wrotham (Edward Fox). Unable to return home and tell his daughter that he has lost her in a game of dice, Sir Giles kills himself there and then. Lord Justin Vulcan (Marcus Gilbert), who has witnessed the events, takes pity on Serena Staverley, although they have never met. He challenges Lord Harry Wrotham to a game of dice in which the winner takes Staverley Court and Miss Serena. Lord Justin Vulcan wins and is simply pleased that he has saved someone from the nasty Wrotham, he thinks no more about the event. One evening, however, Vulcan's friend Lord Peter Gillingham (Robert Addie) insists upon them going to Staverley Court to take a look at Vulcan's "prize". When arriving there, Vulcan finds Serena Staverley more beautiful than he ever imagined.