Question (1917)

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This drama illustrates just how scandalous domestic partnerships once were. Dr. Rundel (Charles Kent) is a scientist who has spent his life working on a new serum. He realizes that he probably won't finish his task in his lifetime, and that his assistant, John Stedman (Harry Morey), will have to carry on after he's gone. The only problem is that while Rundel wants Stedman to put all his energy into his work, Stedman has a sweetheart, Martha Wainwright (Alice Joyce), the daughter of a clergyman (Edward Davis). Annoyed when Stedman leaves work to attend a social function with Martha, Rundel draws up a codicil to his will stating that Stedman will get neither the money nor formula unless he remains single until the work is finished. After the doctor's death, Stedman exhausts himself trying to finish creating the serum so he can marry Martha. Her father has given up on Stedman and wants her to wed Allen Cosgrove (Gladden James). Finally, Stedman has a breakdown from overwork and Martha agrees to live with him without a marriage contract. This causes a scandal. Martha and Stedman are ostracized, as are her parents. Martha decides to leave him and he and Cosgrove get into a brutal fight. At that point Rundel wakes up -- it was all a bad dream. The phone rings and it's Stedman, announcing his engagement to Martha. Rundel congratulates him and tears up the codicil.