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In the rural town of Somerville, bully Drury Stevenson encourages his sullen brother Elmer to believe rumors that his wife Janet is having an affair with T. N. "Slaughter" Somerville, the local patriarch, whom Drury envies and despises. Although the rumors are untrue, Slaughter and Janet, whose refined sensitivity makes her an unlikely match for Elmer, spend enjoyable time together preparing for the church's annual revival meeting. Egged on by Drury, Elmer follows Janet to the church one evening and, as a group of townspeople watch from the woods, tries unsuccessfully to threaten Slaughter with gunshot. During the revival meeting, a humiliated Elmer shows up and demands that Janet return home with him. Although she obeys, Janet chooses that night to leave Elmer and seek refuge with elderly, kindly Ike. When the town gossips, headed by Drury, hear of Janet's desertion, they plot a chiveree and storm Ike's cabin to humiliate her. Slaughter, having learned about the chiveree from railroad worker Ben Roberts, rushes to Ike's and, with Ben, beats up the participants. Later, at the local gathering place, Drury accuses Slaughter of cowardice, a claim denied by Charlie, Slaughter's timid hired hand. For his words, Drury beats Charlie badly, but when Slaughter hears of the deed, he fights Drury and nearly kills him. The next day, when Charlie's drowned body is found, Drury is accused of murder. At first Slaughter refuses to supply his enemy with an alibi but, nagged by his conscience, later clears him. As the town drives out Drury, Ike talks Elmer into deserting Janet, who is then free to marry the man she has always loved, Slaughter.