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On London's Limehouse Causeway, a riverfront slum, Chinese-American Harry Young runs a smuggling business out of his club, The Lily Gardens. In his short time on Limehouse, Harry has overtaken all of ruffian Pug Talbot's business. Pug takes his anger out on his beautiful daughter Toni, whom he has reared as a pickpocket. After Harry saves Toni from arrest, she develops a fondness for him. Pug tries to foil one of Harry's pick-ups by alerting the police, but Toni warns Harry and he evades the law. When Harry finds out later that Pug beat Toni for helping him, he vows revenge. Harry sends Herb, his right-hand man, to make an appointment to meet with Pug. Pug accepts the key to Harry's apartment, unaware that he is being set up. When Pug arrives for his meeting, he is stabbed to death, and his body is left in the alley. After her father's death, Toni agrees to be Harry's "watchdog," in exchange for room and board. Harry's jealous Chinese lover, Tu Tuan, knows that Harry is in love with Toni and warns him that the "white girl" cannot give him what he wants. To protect Toni from Tu Tuan, Harry fires her, but gives her an allowance. In Piccadilly, Toni meets Eric Benton, who owns a pet shop, and after spending many afternoons together, they fall in love. Toni does not want to accept Harry's charity, but he prevents her from getting a job so he will not lose her. Tu Tuan warns Harry that Toni is in love with someone else and, after deriding him for being in love with a white woman, leaves him. Toni finally confesses her sordid background to Eric and abandons him, but he finds the Lily Gardens and makes an appointment with Harry, who gives him the infamous key. That night, Harry takes Toni with him on his pick-up at Ching Lee's ship, unaware that Tu Tuan informed on him to the police and then killed herself. Harry realizes Toni's deep love for Eric when she becomes hysterical upon discovering his murder plans. Willing to sacrifice his own happiness for hers, Harry leaves Ching Lee's to try and stop the killing. He is chased by the police and shot, but arrives in time to save Eric. Harry clears Toni's name before he dies, leaving Toni and Eric to return to the West End to find happiness together.