Tulkinghorn is the unscrupulous lawyer to the Dedlock family, Sir Leicester Dedlock and his wife, Lady Dedlock. Tulkinghorn uncovers a scandalous secret -- Lady Dedlock had a lover, Captain Hawdon, before she married her husband, and the illicit lovers had an illegitimate daughter. Tulkinghorn decides to use this information for financial gain by blackmailing Lady Dedlock. He enlists Lady Dedlock's maid, Hortense, to help him keep an eye out on her employer. Because the maid despises her boss, she agrees to assist Tulkinghorn. When Tulkinghorn betrays and abandons her, however, Hortense murders him, and then tries, unsuccessfully, to frame Lady Dedlock for the crime.