Sophie (Gladys Cooper) loved Edmund (Frank Morgan), but he left town when her parents forced her to marry wealthy Octavius (Edmund Gwenn). Years later, Edmund returns with his son, William (Richard Hart). Sophie's daughter, Marguerite (Donna Reed), and William fall in love. Marguerite's sister, Marianne (Lana Turner), also loves William. Timothy (Van Heflin), a lowly carpenter, secretly loves Marianne. He kills a man in a fight, and Edmund helps him flee to New Zealand. William deserts inadvertently from the navy, and also flees in disgrace to New Zealand, where he and Timothy start a profitable business. One night, drunk, William writes Octavius, demanding his daughter's hand; but, being drunk, he errs.