An American hiker, Ralph Burke, is traveling through Scotland. When he comes to a ruined road sign, he takes the wrong path on his way to a villager and ends up at Sorworth place, an isolated manor. Ralph goes to the door and is greeted by Mrs. Ducker, the housekeeper, who notes that they don't get strangers at the house. The owner, Ann Loring, comes to the door to greet Ralph. Ralph is clearly smitten with her, and Mrs. Ducker says that she has to leave before nightfall. As she departs, Ann gives Ralph directions to the nearby village and he leaves.
The next morning, Ralph talks to the tavern owner, Mr. MacLeod, who notes that Ann stopped by while shopping and left a note for Ralph. It's an invitation to him to join her for tea that afternoon. When Ralph asks about Ann, Macleod explains that she's been widowed for almost a year, and pours Ralph a drink. They chat, and Macleod explains that Ann's husband, Alistair, was a known philanderer and drunkard, and had affairs with the maids at Sorworth Place. He beat Ann and the people of the village could hear her crimes. However, MacLeod admits that Sorworth Place is now cold and empty, since the creditors took everything when Alistair died. Ralph studies the notes and wonders if Ann is what brought him to the area.
That afternoon, Ralph goes to have tea with Ann. As Mrs. Ducker leaves before the coming night, Ann explains that she believes that Ann killed Alistair, but MacLeod points out that he died in an accident. A window bursts open on its own and Ralph goes to close it. Glimpsing outside, he sees a man standing in the yard, who disappears when Ralph looks away for a second. As Ralph turns around, he sees the same man walking by the door to the study. Ann realizes that he's turned white, and assures Ralph that she lives there alone except for the ghosts.
Ralph continues to stay in the village for the next week and visits Ann each day. The next time he comes back, Mrs. Ducker talks to him in private and asks if there is anything waiting for him. Ralph says that there is no one in the world waiting for him, and Mrs. Ducker warns him that there is someone in the manor waiting for him. She tells him to leave before the evil ensnares him as well, and that her real employer is Alistair. She describes how Alistair died of a wasting disease, and couldn't have possibly been up and walking to fall down the stairs to his death. She describes Alistair's clothing and Ralph realizes it's the same clothing that he saw on the man in the yard.
When Ann comes out, Mrs. Ducker leaves and Ann invites him in. As they pass the stairs, Ralph briefly sees Alistair's corpse on the stairs, but it fades away as he looks at it. They go on and have tea, and Ann admits that Mrs. Ducker was devoted to Alistair. She believes that Ralph was guided there to protect her, and that she is afraid of Alistair despite the fact that he is dead. The windows burst open again, and when Ralph reacts, Ann realizes that he saw Alistair earlier. He reluctantly admits that he did, and Ann explains that Alistair beat her regularly because she rejected him. She vowed to kill him, and arranged the accident on the stairs. As Ralph lay dying, he vowed that he would return for her in one year to celebrate their second anniversary... together.
Ann asks Ralph to protect her for the coming night, and that once she makes it through she'll be safe forever from her dead husband. Ralph agrees to help her, but Ann warns that she has grown cold and distant, and can't bring herself to love anything or anyone living. Undeterred, Ralph insists that he'll help her and they can leave the future for another time.
Ralph locks the doors and windows and sends Ann to her room. He patrols the halls and the windows burst open. Ralph vows that Alistair won't get in, but Ann wanders downstairs. She has no idea how she got there, and Ralph sends her back to her room. He goes outside to check the grounds, and the door closes behind him. With the windows and doors barred, Ralph has no way back in. Smashing a window open, he enters the house and runs to Ann's room. Meanwhile, Alistair's ghost is approaching Ann in her bed. Ralph attacks the ghost, strangling it, and the two fight. Alistair retreats to the stairs where he died and Ralph follows. As the clock chimes midnight, Ralph leaps at the ghost… and goes through it, falling down the stairs.
Ann waits to see who the victor of the fight was. Finally, a pale Ralph comes to the door and assures her that she's free of Alistair forever. He realizes why she unlocked the door and let Alistair in, and that she said she couldn't love anyone living. Ann smiles as she realizes she has what she's always wanted, but Ralph promises her that he will return in one year... and then fades away.