It is 1830 in Paris and the rent is due, but the money is not there. An article here, a painting there and a monkey with a cup gives them enough money for the rent, but not for food. Fortunately, Musette from downstairs has enough food for everyone including Mimi - the poor little waif from next door who Rodolphe has met. But Count Paul also has his lusting eye on Mimi and uses her embroidery to get close to her. Rodolphe and Mimi fall in love and Mimi works endlessly to support Rodolphe who is writing his play with a new found passion. He does not know that he has been discharged from writing for 'Dog and Cat Fanciers'. Mimi wants to get his play produced and Count Paul offers to help, but there is a terrible fight when Rodolphe thinks that Mimi is faithless to him with Count Paul. After the fight, he seeks out a doctor as she is sick, but she has left when Rodolphe returns and will stay away until his play is finished.