Landscaper Garrett Hamil falls in love with socialite Shelia Cardross, despite the most horrible, most terrible, blackest-of-black stain on her character: she’s adopted. She loves him too, but there’s another problem — a slight indiscretion from her youth. When she first learned the devastating news that she was not her parents’ biological child, she married the first boy that presented himself, Louis Malcourt, so that she could have a legitimate name. It was never announced, never acted on, and they’ve kept it a secret for years. The man realizes it was a folly and has repeatedly told Shelia to divorce him, but she can’t bear the thought of it.
As her love for Garry grows, so does her temptation to get a divorce. To save herself, she publicly announces her first marriage and moves in with her husband — who still rather thinks it’s a bad idea. Garry takes deathly ill, and during his illness, Louis realizes how strongly Shelia still loves him. Louis quietly steps out one afternoon to a lonely place in the forest and shoots himself in the head.