Sergeant Bouncer, an old soldier, has a scheme to get double rent from a single room. By day he lets it to Mr. Box (a printer who is out all night) and by night to Mr. Cox (a hatter who works all day). Whenever either of them asks any awkward questions he sings at length about his days in the militia.
His plan works well until Mr. Cox is, unexpectedly, given a day's holiday and the two lodgers meet. Left alone while Bouncer sorts out another room, they discover they share more than the same bed. Cox is engaged to the widow Penelope Ann Wiggins - a fate that Box escaped by pretending to commit suicide.
They try gambling Penelope Ann away until news arrives that she has been lost at sea and has left her fortune to her 'intended'. They then both try to claim her for themselves. Another letter arrives - she has been found and will arrive any minute. Now they both try to disclaim her! However, she doesn't appear personally, instead leaving a letter to inform them that she intends to marry a Mr. Knox! Relieved, Cox and Box swear eternal friendship and discover, curiously enough, that they are long-lost brothers...