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|Bette Davis||Henriette Deluzy-Desportes|
|Charles Boyer||Duc de Praslin|
|Jeffrey Lynn||Henry Martyn Field|
|Barbara O'Neil||Duchesse de Praslin|
Mademoiselle Henriette Deluzy-Desportes (Bette Davis), a French woman, starts teaching at an American girls school. She is confronted by the tales and gossip about her that circulate among her pupils and, thus provoked, she decides to tell them her life story.Mademoiselle Deluzy-Desportes is governess to the four children of the Duc de Praslin (Charles Boyer) and the Duchesse de Praslin (Barbara O'Neil) in Paris during the last years of the Orleans monarchy. As a result of the Duchesse's constantly erratic and temperamental behavior, all that remains is an unhappy marriage, but the Duc remains with his wife for sake of their children.Through her warmth and kindness the governess wins the love and affection of the children and their father, but also the jealousy and hatred of their mother. She is forced to leave and the Duchess refuses to give her a letter of recommendation to future employers. The Duc confronts his wife and she invents alternate letters taking opposite attitudes, which in fact she has not written and does not intend to write. Her account enrages him and leads to her murder.The Duc de Praslin is in a privileged position; as a peer his case can only be heard by other nobles. He refuses to confess his guilt or openly to admit his love for Henriette, which is a way to protect her as she is under suspicion of complicity in the murder. Ultimately the Duc takes poison to prevent himself confessing the truth to the authorities; however, he lives long enough to reveal it to another of his servants, Pierre (Harry Davenport), a kindly old man who had early warned the governess to escape the de Praslin household. She is released by the authorities.Henriette's French class is moved by her account. She had been recommended her for the teaching position "in the land of the free" by an American minister, Henry Field (Jeffrey Lynn), to whom she had expressed a loss of faith while in prison. He proposes marriage and Henriette accepts.