The film starts out with a death; Robert Forrest, prominent politician and W.W.I hero has, during a storm, driven his car over a bridge which was washed out. Seemingly all of America is devastated by the news of his death, and reporters from all over descend upon the town he lived in to cover the funeral. Among them is famed journalist Stephen O'Malley, just back from covering events in Berlin. Horrified and dispirited by what he witnessed there, O'Malley, who had admired Forrest's honesty and civic service, wishes to write the great man's biography as an inspiration to others in the dark days ahead. He hopes to convince Forrest's widow to allow him access to Forrest's papers and to interview family and friends.
The next day, the gossipy Orion again drives him, using the trip to tell O'Malley that Christine paid the overdue mortgage on Geoffrey Midford's farm. While chatting, Orion bumps the taxi into Dr. Fielding's car at the gate of the estate. The doctor is there to have a look at Jeb, who is running a high fever. Stephen enters the gatehouse to visit the boy, and Jeb tells him that his sister Janet used to work as Robert Forrest's secretary, but suddenly left her job and left home. At this point, Jason enters the room and says that Jeb is too ill to talk.
Robert Forrest had founded a youth movement called "Forward America" and some representatives from around the country arrive at O'Malley's hotel, hoping to meet with Christine to express their condolences. They are disappointed when they, too, are turned away from the gates of the estate. Thinking that this is a shame, Stephen intends to ask Christine to change her mind when he goes to the estate the next day, only to be told when he gets there that she has gone on a sudden journey with Geoffrey Midford. In her absence, Stephen asks Kerndon about possibly meeting Robert Forrest's mother, but the secretary says that it's not possible.
Christine returns from her mysterious trip and stops in at the gatehouse to check on the still-ailing Jeb. Stephen finds her there and they travel up to the main house together. On the way there, he asks Christine about a large stone windowless building on the grounds. She tells him that it's the arsenal, a place where her husband used to go to collect his thoughts.