* Act I of "The Children's Hour" opens with student Peggy reading from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" while Mrs. Mortar listens and the other girls sew.
* Mary arrives late for class, but tells Mrs. Mortar that she was picking flowers for her.
* One of the teachers, Karen, enters and confronts Mary about lying.
* Mary claims she's ill and that there's something wrong with her heart.
* Although Karen doesn't believe Mary, she sends for her fiance, Joe, who is a doctor.
* Karen and Martha, the other teacher, discuss what to do about both Mary and Mrs. Mortar.
* Karen talks of marrying Joe, which upsets Martha.
* Martha tells Mrs. Mortar, her aunt, that it's time for her move on.
* Mrs. Mortar becomes upset and accuses Martha of having "unnatural" feelings for Karen.
* Joe enters after examining Mary and tells Martha that she's fine.
* When Karen and...
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