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New York socialite Letty Lynton, who has been living in Montevideo, Uruguay, wants to end her affair with Emile Renaul. Because she has left Emile before but has always returned, her maid Miranda is skeptical, as is Emile, who thinks this is just a whim. On the steamship to America, Letty sees wealthy American Jerry Darrow and is immediately attracted to him. At dinner, their attraction increases, and after two weeks at sea, they have fallen in love. On Christmas Eve, a worried Letty tells her maid that they must leave the boat in Havana because she doesn't want Jerry to know about her past, but when Jerry comes to her room to propose, she accepts. In New York, Letty is shocked to see Emile waiting for her on the dock. Making an excuse to Jerry, she leaves the boat before him and learns from Emile that he flew from South America to see her and plans to take her back with him. After she leaves Emile in the customs office, Letty goes home, accompanied by Jerry, who tells her that they have been invited to his parents' home in the Adirondacks and will leave that night, after Letty tells her mother about the engagement. Mrs. Lynton is an embittererd woman who shows no affection for Letty, whom she regards as irresponsible as her late, philandering husband. Soon Emile arrives, having read about the engagement in the newspapers, and warns her to meet him in his hotel room that night or he will show Jerry her explicit love letters. Letty is revolted and resolves to commit suicide rather than spend her life with Emile. She calls Jerry to change their departure to the next day, then goes to Emile's hotel, taking a bottle of poison with her. Letty begs for her letters, but he refuses and tells her that their affair will only be over when he says so. While Emile goes to the door to talk to a waiter, Letty puts the poison in her champagne glass, planning to drink it herself. When Emile returns, however, he strikes her, then picks up her glass by mistake and drinks the poison, as Letty mutely watches. Letty then lets him carry her to the bedroom, and waits until he starts to feel the poison's effects. As he dies, she screams that she's glad she did it, even if she hangs. She then cleans up the room and leaves. The next day, soon after Letty and Jerry have arrived at the home of his parents, a detective from New York arrives looking for Letty and demanding that she come with him. Jerry, Mrs. Lynton and Miranda accompany her to see District Attorney John J. Haney, who produces the letters and accuses Letty of murder. After she admits that she went to see Emile, Jerry says that the truth is that he and Letty spent the night together at his apartment after she left Emile's, and that he knew all about the letters. Mrs. Lynton corroborates Jerry's story by saying that she followed Letty to Jerry's apartment. She also says that she overheard Emile say he would kill himself if Letty did not return to him. Miranda also corroborates the story, after which Haney says that the case is closed, then leaves the room. After motioning to Letty to be silent, Jerry talks into an office intercom and says he was sorry but he had to tell the truth. At the Lynton home, Letty and Mrs. Lynton think that Jerry will leave, but he stays, and plans to take them both to his parents' house.