A woman is abandoned by her lover and prostitution is the only way she has to survive.
A famous Venetian opera singer marries a rich, but very jealous man. After moving to London with him, she misses the opera and all the attention she used to get. Once back in Venice, an old lover shows up causing trouble.
A hopelessly hopeful drifter, a bitter young woman, and a helpless child live on the docks, spending their days in poverty and listless wandering. Overhead, a dredge hauls up mud and trash from the nearby seabed-- the same mud and trash from the day before. They finally decide to leave for the city to seek fulfillment, only to encounter further privation, destitution, temptation.
Business failure Ernest Todd is advised by his friend, Billy Breese, to enlist his wife's charms as a means of winning customers.
A tramp cares for a boy after he's abandoned as a newborn by his mother. Later the mother has a change of heart and aches to be reunited with her son.
A newly married husband and wife make an agreement that should either of them want to terminate their relationship then a bowl with goldfish would be presented to the other signalling the end of their marriage.
Two schoolteachers, married for love, are parted by the husband's obsessive desire for wealth and social position.
While plotting together to win back their lovers, the rich Madeleine and the penniless Pierre fall for each other.
The murders start with the body of Robin. He is found with a arrow through the heart, but Vance deduces that the body was placed and not found where he was killed. The note found dealing with the murder was part of a nursery rhyme and signed by 'Bishop'. The only witness may have been Mrs. Drukker and Adolph, but they are not talking. As the murders progress, each one is accompanied by a nursery rhyme. It is up to Philo Vance to unravel the clues and unmask the identity of the murderer 'Bishop'.