An American hiker, Ralph Burke, is traveling through Scotland and gets lost. He finds himself at Sorworth Place, an isolated manor, and knocks at the door. The housekeeper, Mrs. Ducker, says that they don’t get strangers. The mistress of the house, Ann Loring, come to the door and greets Ralph, and warns him that there are no immediate inns or taverns. Mrs. Ducker warns Ann that night is coming and says that she has to be home for her husband Tom for supper. Ann gives Ralph directions to the closest town and he goes on his way as she closes the door behind him.
In the nearby village, Ralph checks in to the tavern. The next morning, he talks to the owner, Mr. MacLeod, who assumes he is a friend of Ann’s. MacLeod explains that Ann came by the tavern to check on Ralph while she was in town shopping, and left a letter for him. It’s an invitation to tea that afternoon. Ralph asks MacLeod about Ann, and the owner reluctantly explains that she has been widowed for a year, but won’t answer at first how her husband Alistair died. Finally he pours Ralph a drink and explains that Alistair often came to the tavern to drink, but had affairs with the maids at Sorworth Place and was never satisfied with Ann. He beat her relentlessly, and the innkeeper has no idea why Ann stayed there, or stays there still. MacLeod says that the inside of the place is cold and all but empty after the creditors came. Ralph contemplates the note and wonders what may have brought him to Sorworth.
At the manor, Ralph and Ann have tea and Mrs. Ducker leaves as night falls. Ann explains that Mrs. Ducker is nervous around her because she believes that Ann killed her husband. Ralph notes that MacLeod said that her husband died in an accident. A window bursts open, apparently due to a strong wind, and Ralph goes to close it. He sees a man outside on the yard, but when he squints for a closer look, the man is gone. Ralph then comes back in and sees the same man walk past the door to the hallway. Ann notes that he appears shocked, and Ralph asks if she lives there alone. She confirms that she does after dark, and admits that there might be ghosts.
A week later, Ralph is still at the manor and Mrs. Ducker asks if there is anyone waiting for him. Ralph insists that there is no one waiting for him, but she says that there is one person waiting for him here, and advises him to leave before he is caught up in the evil that surrounds the manor. Mrs. Ducker says that her employer is Alistair, and warns Ralph that she’s seen things. Alistair was wasted with illness, but fell down the stairs, fully clothed. She describes Alistair’s hunting clothing, the same clothing that Ralph saw on the man in the yard. Ann arrives and Mrs. Ducker hastily leaves, and the mistress of the house invites Ralph in for tea.
As they go inside, Ralph briefly sees Alistair’s body on the stairs, but the image fades away. Over tea, Ann admits that there’s no way to get rid of Mrs. Ducker, who was devoted to Alistair. Ralph suggests that she leaves, but Ann suggests that Ralph was guided there, and she believes that Ralph came there to protect her from Alistair. She admits that Alistair is dead, but she is still afraid of him. The windows burst open again despite the fact they are barred, and Ann realizes that Ralph has seen Alistair. He denies it, but Ann asks him to describe the figure he’s seen. She admits that she has seen Alistair as well, and that he mistreated her while having affairs with the servants. As Alistair grew sicker, he accused Ann of being frigid, and she decided that Alistair had to die. With his dying breath, Alistair told her that he’d return in a year to celebrate their second wedding anniversary... and the anniversary is tonight. Ann asks Ralph to get between her and Alistair, and that once the night ends she’ll be safe forever. Ralph agrees to help her bury her ghost. Ann says there is one last thing to tell him that will cause him to leave; that she has no love for anything or anyone living. She insists that there can be nothing between them, but Ralph says he will help her regardless.
Ralph locks the doors and windows and then tells Ann to lock herself in her room. Once she does, Ralph informs her that he’ll walk guard duty until daylight. As Ralph walks the halls, a window bursts open and he quickly seals it, warning Alistair that he won’t get in. He finds Ann outside of the room, and she says she had no memory of how she got there. Ralph sends her back to her room and then goes outside. The door closes behind him and he realizes that he’s been sealed out. Smashing a window with a shovel, Ralph reenters the house and runs upstairs to Ann’s room.
Alistair’s ghost enters Ann’s room and moves toward her. Ralph storms in and attacks the ghost. It runs off to the top of the stairs and Ralph leaps after it. As the clock strikes midnight, Alistair fades away and Ralph plummets down the stairs.
Ann waits in her room and finally Ralph returns to the room. He tells her that she’s free of Alistair forever, but says that she’s unlocked the door because she said she couldn’t love anything living. Ralph promises to return for her in a year... and disappears.
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