1839. The young Nell Trent is leading a happy life with her grandfather in his curiosity shop. Wharf owner Daniel Quilp has given large amounts of money to Nell's grandfather as an investment, expecting a large profit. But when Quilp finds out the old man has lost all the money with playing cards, he is determined to get the man in a madhouse as revenge. Nell and her grandfather are forced to leave their house and to start traveling across the country. But Quilp isn't sitting still, his spies are everywhere. Meanwhile a stranger is also looking for Nell's grandfather.