Patches, a beautiful girl, lives with her foster-mother, Liza Biggs, who dresses her in rags. She is surprised to see Judas, the overseer, give Liza a locket. Jack Merry arrives to purchase cotton from Colonel Silverthorne, a Southern gentleman of the old school, who looks after his dead brother's estate, for his niece and nephew, Juliet and Lee. Col. Silverthorne tells Merry that years ago his brother chastised a field hand named Judas, and that little Selma disappeared. Her mother died of grief, while her father had not been seen since, on one occasion, he rowed to a houseboat, and was supposed to have been murdered; and that according to his will, the entire estate was to go to his missing daughter Selma if found within twenty years. If not, the estate was to be divided between Juliet and Lee. That night Judas demands money from Lee on penalty of disclosing the whereabouts of Selma. In the meantime, Merry meets Patches and kisses her hand, exclaiming "May the Princess of Patches ...
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