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In 1907, the Stoddard family anxiously awaits the arrival of their new European governess, Emilie Gallatin. Emilie and her four charges--Jack, David, Chris and Phillip Stoddard--share an instant rapport, and the boys are delighted when Emilie intuits the layout of their stately house, Stonehenge. As the year unfolds, the fortunes of Adam Stoddard, the head of the house and a prominent stockbrocker, begin to fall as the stock market plunges. Despondent, Adam returns home from work early one afternoon to find his wife Molly sick in bed. When Molly faints at Thanksgiving dinner, the doctor prescribes immediate surgery. Too sick to be moved to the hospital, Molly must be operated on at home, and before the procedure begins, she extracts a promise from Emilie to take care of her boys. When Molly dies during surgery, Emilie consoles Adam with the idea that his legacy lies in his four sons. After the stock market plummets, Adam is forced to sell Stonehenge and send his sons away to school. Adam's crusty old cousin Philippa advises him to send Emilie home, and he reluctantly agrees. As Emilie bids the family a tearful farewell, Adam promises to send for her as soon as his fortunes improve. The advent of World War I stimulates the economy, and ten years later, Stoddard and Company has regained its former glory. After buying back Stonehenge, Adam sends for Emilie, who returns to find her four charges fully grown. Jack and Chris, now soldiers, joyfully salute her homecoming. David arrives later with a surprise, his new bride Hester. Knowing that he is to be shipped overseas soon, David, a fighter pilot, asks that Hester be allowed to move in with his family. Desiring to be the only woman in the household, Hester lashes out at Emilie and accuses her of having designs on Adam. Upon meeting Hester, cousin Philippa questions her motives for marrying David. While at the house, Philippa suffers a fatal heart attack and with her dying breath warns Emilie about Hester. After David, Phillip and Chris are assigned overseas, Hester becomes bored and lonely and begins to drink. When Jack unexpectedly comes home for a two-day leave, he and Hester consume a bottle of scotch together, and then Hester begins to make romantic advances, declaring that she prefers him to David. Succumbing to Hester's charms, Jack kisses her just as Emilie enters the room. After the household retires that evening, Hester sneaks into Jack's room, and Adam sees a silhouette of them embracing at the window. As Adam pounds at Jack's door, Emilie, awakened by the commotion, slips into Jack's room through the back door and switches places with Hester to preserve Jack's honor. When Jack opens the door, Adam sees only Emilie in his son's bedroom. After Armistice is declared, Chris and Phillip come home, and when Hester tries to seduce Chris, Jack warns her to stay away from his brothers. The night of David's homecoming, Hester gets drunk as Jack watches in disgust. Later, Jack begs Emilie to tell Adam the truth, but she refuses, choosing to sacrifice her own honor to protect that of Adam and David. After retiring to their bedroom, the drunken Hester slips and calls David by Jack's name, thus arousing his suspicions. In defense, Hester threatens the family with scandal if David tries to divorce her. The next morning, David is discovered missing, and when the family is notified that he has been hospitalized after crashing his plane, Jack and Adam hurry to his bedside. Realizing that Hester has driven David to attempt suicide, Emilie orders her to leave the house. As Emilie shoves Hester toward the door, Adam returns, and Hester claims that Emilie resents her presence and is trying to get rid of her. Although Emilie stands mute to Hester's accusations, Adam begins to suspect that Hester is the cause of David's unhappiness. When Jack arrives, he assesses the situation and finally tells Adam the truth about Hester. As Emilie packs her suitcases, Adam knocks at her door, and after confessing that he loves her, he asks her to share his legacy. In reply, Emilie addresses him as "Adam" rather than "monsieur."