The minister of the Little Church of Five Points, Rev. Dr. John Ruthledge's 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 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 plan to reveal to Ned hat 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. Meanwhile, 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, but Torchy soon realized that Ned still loved Mary, and she generously granted him a divorce. Ned forgave his mother and married Mary, with Dr. Ruthledge proudly officiating the ceremony.
Mary would continue to help her father administer not only to the spiritual needs of his parishioners, but also to their more earthly problems, including those of her best friend, Rose Kransky Greenman. Eventually, Mary would help Ned deliver her father's Friendship Lamp (or "Guiding Light"), upon his death, to his dearest friend from his years at the seminary, the Rev. Dr. Charles Matthews. This was done so that Rev. Dr. Charles Matthews, who was the pastor of the Church of the Good Samaritan in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood known as Selby Flats, could administer to the spiritual and earthly needs of Church of the Good Samaritan's parishioners there, including the Bauer family.