Near the end of the Civil War, wounded Yankee soldier John McBurney is close to death when he is rescued by a twelve-year-old girl from a Louisiana boarding school. As John recovers, he begins to charm the girls, becoming the object of their awakening sexuality and jealousy runs rampant. After he rejects the headmistress of the school for a younger girl, John falls down the stairs breaking his leg, which eventually must be amputated. John begins to drink, and his behavior alienates both teachers and students. He makes an attempt to reform, but it is too late, as the headmistress and girls have decided to solve their problem by feeding him poison mushrooms.