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In 1948 Major Weldon Penderton and his wife, Leonora, are living at an Army post in Georgia. A latent homosexual, the major tries to hide his sexual impotence by maintaining a brusque and authoritative attitude toward his men. Leonora, on the other hand, treats her husband with obvious contempt, making little effort to conceal her adulterous affair with a neighbor, Lieut. Col. Morris Langdon. Langdon's wife, Alison, is a brooding psychotic who, following the birth of a deformed child, mutilated her breasts and now finds solace only in the company of her effeminate houseboy, Anacleto. Also living on the post is withdrawn young Private Williams, who works in the stables and takes care of Leonora's favorite stallion. Unknown to all, Williams is in the habit of sneaking into the Penderton house late at night to gaze intently at Leonora's sleeping body and lovingly fondle her lingerie. After observing Williams, stark naked, riding a horse in the nearby forest, the major secretly begins to lust after the young man, following him on the post and into the woods where he sunbathes in the nude. Late one night, Alison spies Williams entering the Penderton house and follows him to Leonora's room. Upon witnessing his voyeuristic ritual, she suffers an emotional breakdown and makes plans to divorce her husband and go away with Anacleto. Langdon, believing her to be mad, has her committed to a sanitarium, and there she dies of heart failure. Then, during a driving rainstorm, Private Williams makes another trip to the Penderton house. The major sees him and mistakenly assumes that he is the reason for the soldier's visit. When Williams enters Leonora's room instead, Penderton takes a revolver and kills him.