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Graham Weir, a man of high principles and a dedicated schoolteacher in a poor section of northern England, turns to drink whenever he is taunted for his spinelessness by Anna, his French-born wife. Most of his students are unruly and uninterested in schooling; however, young Shirley Taylor asks for extra tutoring, and Graham willingly complies. She falls in love with him, and upon returning from a school trip to Paris, she goes to his room and asks him to sleep with her. When he refuses, the humiliated girl accuses him of attempted sexual assault. Brought to court by Shirley's vindictive mother, Graham is tried and convicted; but Shirley breaks down and admits to her lie when Graham makes an impassioned plea. The case is dismissed, but Anna announces that she despises Graham for not seducing the girl, because his aggression would have at least made him seem more of a man. In an effort to salvage his marriage, Graham then claims that Shirley's accusations were true. Anna believes his false confession, and their marriage is saved.