In the Spring of 1939, Lewis Eliot is working in Whitehall as headhunter recruiting academics into government. War is in the air and government is preparing for the worse. While visiting Roy Calvert, his young friend admits that his marriage to Joan has come to an end. Lewis visits Roy in Berlin where he gets his first taste of Nazism. Back at Cambridge, Roy espouses the Nazis and their regime. Roy goes into one of his dark periods and even Joan, who still loves him and knows him better than anyone, can't pull him out of it. At home, Sheila tells Eliot that she's applied for a job in Anglo-Drench liaison. She falls apart when she is called for an interview however leading them to quarrel.