Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1017
After his divorce from his wife, Blanche, Judge Cass Timberlane continues to meet his old friends socially and to hold court in his usual honest and effective manner. It is not until Jinny Marshland appears in his court as witness in a routine case, however, that Cass once more begins to find his life interesting. Cass is forty-one years old and Jinny in her early twenties, so he tells himself that he is foolish to think of her in a romantic manner. In spite of his logical reasoning, Cass thinks more and more about Jinny. Within a few days of their first meeting, he arranges to see her again. Dignified Judge Cass Timberlane is falling in love.
He has no smooth romantic style. His friends think him stupid to become involved with a young woman of the working class. It seems strange to Cass that his friends would dare to criticize anyone. For example, there is Dr. Roy Drover, who openly makes love to any and every cheap woman he can, without bothering to conceal his infidelities from his wife. In the same class are Boone and Queenie Havock, both loud, brassy, and vulgar; Jay Laverick, a rich, lustful drunkard; and Bradd Criley, notorious for his affairs with the wives of his best friends.
Cass’s friends are not the only ones opposed to the affair. Jinny’s young radical friends think Cass a stuffy conservative. The only two people who are sympathetic with Cass are Chris Grau, who also wants to marry him, and Mrs. Higbee, his housekeeper.
What his friends think of Jinny does not matter; it is what Jinny will think of them that worries Cass at the time of their marriage. After the honeymoon, they live in his old family home, although Jinny prefers a new house in the country club section. They go out seldom, for they are happy enough to stay at home together. It is the first year of World War II, and Jinny finds work to do in various civic activities. Cass hopes that the work will keep her stimulated. When he notices that she is beginning to be bored by civic duties, he encourages her to accept a part in a little theater production. Later, he is sorry that he encouraged her, for the town begins to talk about Jinny and various male members of the cast, particularly Jay Laverick. When Cass speaks to her about the gossip, Jinny accuses him of being unreasonably jealous and then apologizes. Cass loves her more than ever.
Cass sells some property at an unexpectedly high price and buys the new house that Jinny desires in the country club district. While waiting for it to be finished, they take a trip to New York. At first, Jinny is enchanted with the size and brightness of the city, but soon she is bored by the unfriendliness of everyone she meets. After Bradd Criley arrives in New York and takes them under his wing, Jinny enjoys herself. Cass is not so happy.
Shortly after Cass and Jinny return home, they learn that Jinny is pregnant, but their happiness is marred by the knowledge that Jinny has diabetes. Roy Drover, her doctor, assures Cass that there is no cause for worry if Jinny follows her diet and gets plenty of rest. Bradd seems to amuse her, so Cass often invites him to the house.
Jinny goes through her delivery safely, but the baby dies. For many weeks afterward, she will see no one but Cass. Then, for no apparent reason, she wants to have a party almost every night. Cass tries to be patient with her, for he knows that she is still reacting to the death of the baby, and that the restrictions placed on her by her illness are irritating. When his friends once again warn him about allowing Jinny to see so much of Bradd, his patience wears thin; he almost orders Jinny to stop seeing Bradd, and he tells Bradd to stay away from Jinny. Later, Bradd apologizes to Cass and the three are friends once more.
After Bradd moves to New York, all tension between Jinny and Cass seems to disappear for a time. Then Jinny grows restless again and begins to talk of moving to a larger city. Although Cass prizes his judgeship and would hate to give it up, he is still willing to do anything for his wife. They take another trip to New York, where Cass hopes to find a partnership in an established law firm. They meet Bradd during their visit. Although he trusts his wife, Cass is relieved when Jinny tells him that she knows she would not really like living in New York and that she wants to go home. They leave hurriedly, without seeing Bradd again before their departure.
On their first night at home, Jinny tells Cass that she loves Bradd and that he became her lover while she was in New York. When Cass refuses to give her a divorce until she has ample time to consider her own wishes carefully, she goes back to New York to stay with Bradd’s sister until Cass will free her. For Cass, the town, the house, his friends, and his work are now meaningless. He can think only of Jinny. Then he receives a telegram from her. After failing to follow her diet, she is desperately ill and she wants Cass. He flies to New York that night. He finds Jinny in a coma, but she awakens long enough to ask him to take her home.
After Jinny can be moved, Cass takes her to a seashore hotel and then home. He forgives her completely, but he warns her that she will have to work hard to win back their friends. They still have to make their own private adjustment. It is not until Bradd returns to Grand Republic that Jinny is able to see him as the charming philanderer that he really is. That night, she goes to Cass’s room. He receives her as if she has never been away.
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