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In 1905, famed English painter Priam Farll, who abhors society and has lived as a recluse in the British East Indies for twenty-five years, receives a summons to return to England to receive a knighthood. Grumbling all the way, Priam travels to England accompanied by his devoted valet, Henry Leek. Henry falls ill during the journey, and Priam sends for a doctor upon their arrival. Henry dies from pneumonia, and Priam, eager to avoid the knighthood ceremony, does not correct the doctor when he assumes that Henry was Priam, and that Priam is the valet. The doctor puts Priam's name on the death certificate, and soon Priam watches as his cousin, Duncan Farll, leads the mourners at his memorial service. Priam's bemusement turns to chagrin, however, when King Edward VII appears and announces that the artist will be buried at Westminster Abbey. Angry at having cheated himself out of this honor, Priam attends the funeral and creates such a ruckus that he is thrown out of the abbey. As two policemen are questioning him outside, Priam is rescued by assertive Alice Challice, who tells them that he is Henry Leek. Priam is amazed that Alice knows about Henry and learns that Henry had been corresponding with her after obtaining her address from a matrimonial bureau and had sent her a picture of himself with Priam. Although aware that Alice has mistaken him for Henry, Priam again does not identify himself. Soothed by Alice's stability and devotion, Priam soon marries her, and the couple settle down to quiet domestic happiness in Putney. Priam continues to paint, although he keeps his art supplies hidden to avoid arousing Alice's suspicions. Priam and Alice's contentment is disturbed by the sudden appearance of Sarah Leek and her three grown sons, John, Matthew and Harry. Sarah claims to be Henry's first wife, whom he deserted many years before, but Alice gets rid of her by insinuating that Priam is insane, and that the scandal that would result from Sarah's allegations would ruin the boys's seminary careers. Later, trouble again presents itself when the couple are short of money and Alice cannot meet that year's mortgage payment. Wanting to help, Priam finally confesses his real identity to Alice and shows her his paintings, which he says can be sold for large sums. Alice, however, thinks that the strain of worry has "confused" Priam and gently dissuades him from persisting with his assertions. When she learns that a picture framer will pay £15 for Priam's paintings, however, she sells them without Priam's knowledge. Their life resumes its quiet pace until a year later, when Lady Vale, who has been buying Priam's latest paintings from a prestigious art gallery run by Clive Oxford, discovers that they could only have been painted since Priam's supposed death. She brings a suit against Oxford, alleging that he fraudulently sold the paintings as authentic Priam Farlls. Oxford, who has met Priam and gotten him to confess the truth, wants Priam to testify on his behalf, but Priam is angered by the situtation, as Oxford has been making a huge profit on the paintings. Alice, who now believes her husband, fears that the attention will destroy their marriage, and Priam determines not to help either Lady Vale or Oxford with his testimony. When Sarah appears in court and states that Priam is her husband, however, Alice asserts herself once again. Alice forces Priam to show two moles on his collarbone, thereby proving that he is Priam Farll and not Henry Leek. After the case is settled, Priam and Alice move to a remote jungle, where they recreate their Putney home and return to their ordinary, happy domestic life.