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After waking up from a battle-inspired nightmare, Lieutenant Scott Burnett, a mounted patrolman in the United States Coast Guard, confides to his friend, Otto Wernecke, that his naval war experiences have left him deeply disturbed. Scott also fears his attraction to Peggy Butler, a beautiful married woman he sees during his daily patrol and who is part of his recurring nightmare. Scott asks his girl friend, Eve Geddes, to marry him that night, and though she agrees at first, she later convinces Scott to wait another two weeks. Scott then sees Peggy on the beach collecting wood from an abandoned shipwreck, and stops to talk with her. When a tense Scott tells Peggy not to take the wood, she surmises that he is haunted by memories of a torpedoed ship and invites him to her house. There Peggy advises Scott to rid himself of his "ghosts" by not fighting them and impresses him with her understanding and compassion. Peggy and Scott's tender exchange is interrupted by the arrival of Peggy's husband Tod, a blind, renowned artist. Sensing Peggy's excitement, Tod invites Scott to stay, but he is anxious to go and returns to his station. Later that night, Tod shows up at the station and insists that Scott have dinner at his house, and Scott, who is supposed to meet Eve in town, agrees. During dinner, Scott and Tod discuss Tod's blindness, which has robbed him of his livelihood and forced him into an isolated, embittered existence with Peggy. Later, Peggy confesses to Scott that she stays with Tod because she accidentally cut his optic nerve during a drunken fight and therefore feels responsible for him. Scott, however, doubts Tod's blindness is genuine and kisses Peggy. The next day, when Eve drops by Scott's station to ask him about the previous night, he becomes angry and tells her that he is too sick to marry her. Scott then finds Peggy at the shipwreck and shares another passionate kiss with her. When Tod wanders by the wreck, seemingly aware of their presence, Scott insists that he can see and asks Peggy to leave Tod if he proves that he is not blind. After Peggy agrees, Scott invites Tod to walk with him to the cliffs and deliberately abandons him at the edge. Tod tumbles over, but only suffers bad bruises. From Tod's doctor, Scott learns that Peggy had once been involved with Eve's deceased brother and confronts her about it. Her cavalier admission of guilt convinces Scott to tell Tod the truth about the cliff incident, and Tod accepts his apologies and offers to show him some of his paintings. When Tod realizes that Peggy, who wants him to sell his valuable paintings so that they can live better, has removed her portrait, he demands that she return it immediately. As he leaves, Scott hears Tod slapping Peggy repeatedly and later finds her waiting for him at the shipwreck. Determined to rid Peggy of Tod, Scott invites him to go deep sea fishing as a fierce storm approaches, and Tod accepts. Once at sea, Scott confronts Tod about Peggy and hits him. In the ensuing fight, Scott falls overboard, but is rescued by the Coast Guard, who have been alerted by Peggy. Although Tod is furious at Scott's attack, he realizes that Peggy loves him and decides to "free" her by setting their house on fire. After his paintings go up in flames, Tod gives Peggy and Scott his blessing and heads for New York.