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Libby Saul lives with her estranged parents on an isolated farm near the California coast. Used as a go-between by her parents, who no longer speak to each other, Libby has developed a stammer and spends her days wandering the woods with her dog, Joe. One day she encounters a crew of convicts building a road along the coast and, unknown to her parents, watches them for several days. She is especially interested in Barry Burnett, one of the convicts. After the road workers blast through the surrounding hills, they arrive at the farm in search of water from the farm well. Mr. Saul first offers to sell it to them, but when they turn down the offer, he agrees to let them have it for free. When Barry punches the road boss, who has been goading him, and is handcuffed, Libby breaks down in tears. At Saul's urging, Jed Barker, the engineer, who is fresh out of the army, visits the farm one evening. Libby's mother encourages her to befriend Barker. During their conversation, Libby learns that Barry is going to be sent back to San Quentin for attacking the road boss. Barker then asks Libby to go dancing, but she is too shy and runs away from him. After Barker leaves, an angry Saul slaps Libby and, telling her parents that she does not want to live in hatred as they do, she leaves home. With Libby gone, Mrs. Saul is forced to get dressed and comes downstairs for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Libby and Joe make themselves at home in a nearby cabin. A short time later, Barry, having escaped during a heavy rainstorm, joins her, and Libby offers to help him. Barry tells Libby that while in the Navy, he was imprisoned for fighting. Later, he was sent to San Quentin for manslaughter after a man was killed during a robbery he committed while drunk. Libby and Barry plan to go to San Francisco together, and in preparation, Libby returns to the farm to get clothes and food. She discovers that her parents have reconciled and also learns that a posse has been formed to search for Barry. Her attempts to return to the cabin are thwarted, and Barry comes to the farm late at night looking for her. Libby hides him in the barn, and soon, happily in love, she is a changed woman. Barker almost discovers Barry's hiding place when Saul sends him after a tire pump, but Libby rushes ahead of him and Barry is safe for the moment. Later, however, Mrs. Saul begins to suspect the truth and confronts the couple. Barry and Libby run off just as Saul and Barker drive up. Barker tries to stop them, but Barry hits him over the head and drives off in the truck, leaving Libby behind. Barry is wounded by the posse and dies in Libby's arms. Later, Libby and Barker make a new start.