In the first scene, Harriet Goodrich, an upper class woman living with her husband in New York City, is expecting a visit from an old acquaintance, Margaret Caldwell. As Harriet fixes last minute details, she has a conversation with her inner self, Hetty, played by a second actress. Hetty says that she will never forgive Harriet for not marrying painter, John Caldwell, who is now Margaret’s husband. Harriet claims that John was “too poor a gamble,” and instead married wealthy Charles Goodrich. Determined to win John back, Hetty schemes with Harriet about what to say when Margaret arrives.
As the second scene begins, Margaret enters, shadowed by her inner self, Maggie, played by a fourth actress. Harriet and Margaret exchange pleasantries and catch up. As Hetty and Maggie interject sideline commentary, Maggie reveals that life has been difficult for Margaret and John. They have recently returned from Paris with very little money, or prospects for work. Margaret hopes Harriet will agree to have her portrait painted by John, and subsequently get John into Harriet’s affluent social circles.
Coached by Maggie, Margaret carefully tries to arrange the deal without Harriet suspecting that such a deal is exactly why Margaret came. Simultaneously, Hetty tells Harriet to boast about her wealth and connections in hopes of persuading Margaret to set up a painting session with John. Although each woman tries not to seem too eager, arrangements are eventually made for Harriet to come for a sitting at the Caldwell’s studio. Delighted with the plan, Margaret and Maggie leave.
The story concludes with Harriet and Hetty alone again. Hetty excitedly wonders what will happen when she sees John again. Harriet worries what she will wear.