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In a London hotel, engineer Ward Andrews is surprised to encounter his old college roommate, Philip Monrell, who has just returned from Paris. Philip invites Ward to come to his country estate, where they both meet pretty Stella Bergen, Philip's mother's new secretary. Mrs. Monrell, who worries that her wastrel son neglects his work at the family steel mill, hopes that Stella, whom she has grown to love like a daughter, will marry Philip. Stella likes Philip, but is more attracted to the stable, hard-working Ward. Philip appears to encourage the two, but is happy when Ward has to leave. After Ward's departure, Mrs. Monrell says that she is traveling to Africa for her health and Philip must run the mill. That night, when Philip expresses his insecurities, Stella's encouragement makes him feel that he can do what his "always right" mother wants, and he reveals that while in Paris, he used Ward's name and felt that he was a better person because of it. He then tenderly proposes and a touched Stella accepts. Six weeks after their marriage, Philip reluctantly goes to work at the mill, but before he leaves, he hides Stella's beloved kitten in his briefcase, jealous because the animal was a gift from Ward. Later, to impress her, he orchestrates an executive meeting, but his ridiculous comments so anger the chief engineer that the man resigns. That evening, Clark, the butler, reveals that Stella's missing kitten was found with a broken neck near the mill. Her grief so upsets Philip that he erupts in a rage, but later apologizes and begs her never to leave him. She asks him never to mention Ward's name again, but while she is sleeping, he writes in his diary that he will ask Ward to become his new chief engineer. When Ward visits, she is very formal, knowing that Philip is watching, and says that she is very happy. She is surprised and upset when Philip convinces Ward to become his engineer. Some weeks later, after Philip leaves on a business trip, Ward tries to tell Stella his concerns about Philip, but she angrily refuses to talk with him. The next day, she apologizes and he reveals that Philip is too severe with the men. She confides her fear that Philip is trying to kill their love, then reluctantly agrees to dine with Ward at the local hotel. Their innocent dinner is interrupted by Philip, who says he just returned, and listens to Ward's proposal for a new housing project for his workers. After brusquely saying that it is obedience, not respect he wants, Philip goes to pay the bill, which reveals that he had been staying at the hotel the entire time. When labor unrest erupts at the mill, Ward tries in vain to have Philip call off the summoned police, but as an angry mob storms the office, Philip realizes his danger and tells Ward to give them anything they want. He then flees, leaving Ward and Stella to face the men. The next day, Philip pretends to be contrite and goes to the plant with Ward, but once there, he tries to push Ward into a slag vat. That night, Ward quarrels with Philip and admits that he loves Stella, then leaves, asking her to let him know if she ever needs him. Stella now realizes that Philip's paranoia is so advanced that she, too, must leave. She sneaks away and goes to the hotel, where she tells Ward that Philip is mad. While they are talking, Philip calls and says that he will give her a divorce, but wants to talk to Ward about it at the house. Despite Stella's misgiving, Ward goes to the house and upon his arrival, he and Philip start a heated argument which is overheard by Clark. After Philip suggests that they end their relationship amicably, Ward leaves and Philip immediately sets a plan in motion in which he commits suicide by impaling himself on a knife after ransacking his study to make it appear as if he had been killed. When the body is later found, Ward is tried and convicted of murder because Philip had tricked Ward into putting his fingerprints on the knife. On the day before Ward is to be executed, Stella is visited by Dr. Rameau, a Parisian psychiatrist who had just learned about the case the day before. He reveals that after seeing Philip's picture in the newspaper, he recognized him as a man suffering from extreme paranoia whom he had treated at his clinic under the name "Ward Andrews." Rameau is convinced that Philip, who escaped the clinic, killed himself and, like most paranoids, may have bragged about his accomplishment by leaving some type of message or diary. With Clark's help, Stella and Rameau search the house until they are interrupted by Mrs. Monrell. Although she blames Stella for Philip's death, she finally admits that Philip's father had committed suicide and reveals that Philip always kept a diary. When they learn that the most recent diary had been sent to Paris to be rebound on the day of Philip's death, they rush to Paris, and the diary's revealing contents saves Ward from execution. Some time later, Stella and Ward throw the diary off the ship on which they are sailing.