Based on a novel by Dan Totheroh, a poor woman in the country with alienated parents helps an escaped convict.
Libby Saul (Ida Lupino) serves her nagging mother Ellie Saul (Fay Bainter), who stays upstairs and her father Cliff Saul (Henry Hull), who also complains. Libby wanders in the woods, watches prisoners building a road, and leaves them a bucket of berries. Libby stutters, and her parents do not talk to each other. Jeff Barker (Wayne Morris) comes to their well to get water for the prisoners. Barry Burnette (Dane Clark) slugs a guard and is handcuffed. Libby cries. Jeff comes to play cards with Cliff. Libby asks Jeff about Barry. When Jeff makes advances, she is afraid and runs out. Cliff argues with Libby and slaps her. Ellie begs Libby not to go, but she leaves during a rainstorm.
Barry escaped from the tool shed they put him in during the storm. Cliff realizes that Libby is gone and takes a tray to Ellie's door. Libby goes to a cabin. Barry sees Libby swimming and enters the cabin. He has a gun when Libby comes in. She offers to help him go north and says she is running away too. Barry makes a fish trap. He tells how he got in a fight and was convicted of manslaughter. They catch a fish, and he kisses her. Barry puts the gun in the stove. Libby goes home to get Barry clothes and food.
Ellie comes down to help Cliff in the kitchen, and Libby joins them at the table. Sheriff Akers (Willard Robertson) asks Libby for coffee. Jeff calls on Libby. Ellie brings four men in and says there was shooting. Libby finds Barry outside and takes him to a loft. She sees that he has a gun. He gives it to her, and she drops it in the well.
The next morning Ellie fits Libby's pretty dress and says she acts like she is in love with Jeff. Libby and Barry kiss and decide to wait a day. Jeff asks Libby for a date and sees that Cliff's car needs a battery. Libby gets the pump in the loft and sees Barry with a scythe. Barry tells her he feels like a criminal. Sheriff Akers warns Ellie about the convict. Ellie hears Libby talking with Barry, who asks her to give them a chance; but Ellie sees no hope for Libby with him. Barry and Libby decide to run. Jeff arrives in his jeep, and Barry knocks him out. He takes the jeep and pushes Libby off. A car with men chase Barry and shoot at him. He is wounded twice. Libby finds Barry hiding; he is glad to have loved her and dies. In the final scene Libby and Jeff look at the road being built.
This realistic drama explores the desperation of a young
woman in a dysfunctional family and a hot-headed escaped convict
who find a brief love in horrendous circumstances.