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When recently separated Louise Storr arrives in the Midwestern town of Pittsville from New York City, she is greeted at the train depot by Grandpa Storr, her eighty-five-year-old grandfather, and Simon Bates, his hard-drinking but devoted farmhand. Although a New York native who has never seen the Storr family farm, Louise quickly warms to life at "Storrhaven" and to her irascible but wise grandfather, a third generation farmer. Grandpa's stepdaughter, Thelma Redfield, and his nephew's widow Beatrice are suspicious of Louise, however, and express their disapproval when she shows interest in Guy Crane, their married neighbor. Louise and Guy's mutual attraction becomes obvious to his sweet but simple wife Nettie when she invites Louise to Sunday dinner and can only listen as her neighbor discusses theater and other cultural topics with her Cornell-educated husband. Aware of Beatrice and Thelma's watchful eyes, Guy later warns Louise at a town dance that her in-laws may see her, the Storr farm heiress, as a threat to their financial future. After Beatrice admonishes Louise about dancing too many times with a married man, Louise accepts a ride home from Guy, who kisses her impetuously in an empty field. Although the couple vows to forget about the incident, Louise tells Guy after a long day of cooking for a group of hungry threshers, that she should return to New York to protect his reputation in the rural community. Dismissing Louise's concern for his social standing, Guy confesses his love but admits that he has no will to leave Nettie. When Beatrice then catches Guy and Louise kissing, Louise determines to go but is counselled by Grandpa to stay and fight for the farm. During his talk with Louise, Grandpa suddenly begins to describe approaching Rebel soldiers and other Civil War images, and Louise and the rest of the family become convinced that he has lost his mind. While Beatrice insists that the Insanity Commission be alerted and Grandpa be committed, a distressed Louise seeks help from Guy and Simon. Grandpa's delusions continue, however, and after he angrily accuses Beatrice of being a Rebel spy, the Insanity Commission is called. As soon as the three physicians arrive, Grandpa reveals that his "insanity" was a hoax concocted to expose his in-laws as fortune hunters. With the Insanity Commission as witnesses, Grandpa then dictates a new will to Thelma's timid husband Allen, a lawyer, and leaves the farm exclusively to Louise. Although Grandpa ultimately forgives Thelma and Allen, Beatrice is ordered to return to Des Moines. His job done, Grandpa confides in Louise that his heart is failing and dies quietly in the night. Guy then tells Louise, who has chosen to stay on the farm, that he is going to accept a teaching job at Cornell, a decision that Louise bravely endorses as the best solution to their affair.