The events of the present are the take-off point for David Hapgood, 55, to live, in his mind, with the happenings of the past: to view his long friendship with Jim Hutchinson, in which he has repaid his debt of gratitude many times over, and his marriage to Pat, which has endured more than one crisis based on the conflict between his need to support his family and his ambition to pursue a specialized project in botany. A proposed thrway brings David's son, Gil, to argue that his father should foreclose on Jim's property; his daughter, Cindy, comes home with a problem of love and marriage; Jim defies David and resorts to threats of scandal and his wife, Dottie, flatly refuses to leave the house that has enhanced her respectability. David, remembering, sees Jim's fast, flashy rise in the 20's-30's, Dottie's abject and immoral means of supporting him when the crash comes; he watches his own earlier self choosing science rather than a sure business career, loving and winning Pat and her belief in his choice, and, marrying her after she is pregnant, almost losing her when he gives up botany for the job he had turned down; acknowledging Jim's constant ingratitude when he salvages Dottie and the marriage; and reliving the happiness with Pat and the children when, security or no, he returns to the study of his squashes. With the resolution of today's issues and the burning of Jim's house, David is still firm in his belief that ""all the inexcusable things are somehow excusable"" and that he is not one to judge. A New England setting for a story of compassion, the flaws of marriage and the effects of time, this makes its characters solidly familiar and understandable.