The black and white question in South Texas in tones of grey-for Mathilde has had a son by Talcot Carably, and in revenge Mathilde remains a servant in his house, never once suspected by his wife, Mary Louise. Mathilde, with her greater education, her friendship with their nephew, Bobby Lee, and her growing dependence on the security that the Carably's home offers her and her son Jay, is threatened when Mary Louise, shocked out of her Tom Collins' haze, identifies Jay's hands with those of Bobby Lee. Feeling she must keep his secret, she plans for his marriage, determines too that Mathilde must marry the gardener next door. Bobby Lee confronted by his fiancee's coldness, turns to Mathilde in passion, and she to humiliate him goes to the gardener's bed. When she realizes that she has lost her chance to go with Bobby Lee after his marriage, she suicides, and at her funeral Mary Louise, sensing Talcot's relief at Mathilde's death, is faced with the fact that he, not Bobby Lee, is Jay's father, imprisons him once again in her determination to raise Jay. Color lines conforming with conditioned thinking and behavior have a realistic presentation- but the human drama is not as clearout as the feel of the summer away from Houston, scored and scarred by events of the hot days. Some clean, neat, subsidiary characters, and a sympathetic investigation of values help the plot line.