On a business trip, Jason Clay forgets his fiance, Catherine Marlow, when he meets Madelaine Collins, beautiful daughter of a father whose political connections could be useful. After a whirlwind courtship, the two are married and Jason takes Madelaine home to Clayton. Here he is greeted by Catherine with the news that she is pregnant. Devastated upon learning Jason has married someone else, Catherine leaves Clayton to have her baby – vowing that one day she will return to wreak vengeance.
Madelaine, too, is distraught by the situation and refuses to share Jason’s bed any longer. Jason turns to the arms of other women, but soon Madelaine finds she is pregnant. After the birth of their son, Matthew, the marriage deteriorates into a bitter fight for the child’s affection. As the years pass, Matthew becomes a weak young man who wants nothing but to escape the conflict between his parents. A suspicious fall on the stairs cripples Madelaine and Matthew feels he cannot leave her.
Jason, meanwhile, is having an affair with is secretary, Regina Mead, who becomes pregnant. As Jason himself cannot marry Regina, the two conspire to make Matthew fall in love with her. After drinking heavily, Matthew finds Regina in his bed and believes he has seduced her. They are hastily married and Matthew brings Regina home to the great Clay mansion.
The triangle involving Jason, Regina and Matthew comes close to tragedy. When Regina’s son, Victor is born, Jason takes over. Another son is born, but when Matthew refuses to take her away from Jason’s house, Regina loses interest in both children and she begins to stay away from home seeking consolation in a series of tormented love affairs.
Meantime, Catherine’s son, Robert is growing up. Catherine has taught Robert to hate the name of Clay and the vengeance she has waited years to achieve is finally within her grasp.
And so, Clayton Place moves to its climax.