Mr. Robert Baldwin is Mr. John Gresham's personal secretary. At the start of the play, Baldwin's wife (Martha), son (John), and daughter (Evie) are tense and worried: John Gresham has just been arrested. Everyone's worried that Baldwin will be implicated in the matter; after all, Baldwin was Gresham's personal secretary. Evie defends her husband without reserve, but John laments that his father never complained about his low pay while his boss was underpaying him and robbing the depositors of the bank at the same time. Here, we have a picture of Baldwin as a man of integrity and honor; he is also long-suffering and dependable.
When his son chides him about keeping the matter from all of them (gossip has linked Baldwin to the actions of his boss), he answers that it should have been enough for them to know what sort of a man he was. He informs his family that he told Gresham to make good on what he stole from the bank and to close the bank down. He also admits to his family that Gresham begged him to testify under the defense of faulty memory about the embezzlement. Of course, he declined, despite the money offered. Here, we can see Baldwin as morally incorruptible; he is stubbornly against misrepresentation of any kind.
However, when his family finds out that Gresham offered Baldwin one thousand dollars for his cooperation, they start to have second thoughts about being so scrupulous. When Baldwin admits that Gresham will be able to pay back the depositors' money without touching the one thousand dollar bribe money, all three try to argue matters in such a way as to press Baldwin to perjure himself in court. Martha tries to guilt her husband into giving in to Gresham by saying that he shouldn't be the one to send an old friend to jail. Both Martha and John further contend that John was named after Gresham and that by helping to send Gresham to jail, Baldwin would somehow be responsible for sullying his own son's name.
All three try hard to wear Baldwin down, but he is horrified at the thought of participating in such dishonesty. It is clear that this man is truly distressed about taking the bribe money. When his family admit that they would rather he accept the bribery, he is aghast.
Shams! Liars! Hypocrites! Thieves! And I no better than any of you! We have seen our souls naked, and they stink to Almighty Heaven!
Despite the pressure, Baldwin holds firm. Suddenly, the door bell rings. The maid admits Marshall, the president of Third National Bank. Marshall is there to offer Baldwin a job because he was greatly affected by Baldwin's integrity in the whole affair. He tells the family that Gresham himself was so impressed by Baldwin's principles that he confessed his guilt without going to trial. Baldwin is so touched that he cries. He has passed a more difficult test of his resolve than most people have been called upon to endure.