The Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge's, the minister of the Little Church of Five Points, Illinois, wife died early in their marriage, leaving him to raise their daughter, Mary, alone. Shortly thereafter, a troubled young woman named Frances Holden left her eight-year-old son, Ned Holden, in the minister's care. Frances was on the run after being implicated in a robbery committed by her slick and abusive husband, con man Paul Holden. Mary and Ned were raised as sister and brother, but as they grew older they realized that they were very much in love.
After Ned had become a successful author, he bought a brooch for Mary from a charming, but mysterious, woman named Frederika Lang. Little did Ned know that Frederika was actually his estranged mother, Frances Holden! Her on-again, off-again marriage to the errant Paul reached a tragic climax when Paul followed her to Five Points. Paul told Frances of his plans to reveal to Ned that they were his parents, in hopes that they could then live off Ned's substantial book royalties. This bombshell sent Frances completely over the edge, and she shot and killed the contemptible Paul! Dr. Ruthledge saved Frances from the electric chair by convincing the governor to give her a reprieve. Ned was sickened to discover that "Frederika" was the mother who had abandoned him, and he bitterly wrote her off. Shaken to the core, Ned sought solace with a showgirl, from San Francisco, named Torchy Reynolds and impulsively married her. Torchy soon realized that Ned still loved Mary, and she generously granted him a divorce. Within the next year Ned eventually forgave his mother (which was a good thing, since Frances would be dead within the next year) and married Mary, with Dr. Ruthledge proudly officiating the ceremony.
After World War II and Dr. Ruthledge's death, Ned and Mary would deliver Dr. Ruthledge's cherished Friendship Lamp also known as "Guiding Light" to Dr. Ruthledge's dearest friend from his years in the seminary, the Rev. Dr. Charles Matthews. Ned and Mary did this to help Dr. Matthews in his work as the pastor of the Church of the Good Samaritan in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood known as Selby Flats where Dr. Matthews administered to the spiritual and earthly needs of his parishioners, which included the Bauer family.