The young Luke Ribbons, a vicar's son and lately a guest of Her Majesty, arrives into the rackety Slattery household as a lodger, and falls irrevocably in love with redoubtable and beautiful Pearl, mother of four and grandmother. Pearl, balanced between respectability and ruin and bruised by her baroque past, is unwilling, to his despair, to distinguish him from the throng of dispossessed youth trooping through her household. Luke enlists the services of the local, highly respectable and provincial witch doctor, but things don't go quite as he had planned . . .