The wife of Peter Conway, a coal miner in the Allegheny mountains, dies giving birth to their daughter Babbie. After a childhood filled with innocent pranks, Babbie impulsively marries a man who later abuses her. He dies of blood poisoning after he drunkenly strikes at her and crashes his arm through a window. Upon Babbie's return, Ned Higgins, whom Babbie's older sister Hannah loves, falls in love with Babbie, but she rebuffs him for Hannah's sake. After Dominick Kenelly, a drunken miner, prepares strikers to clash with the company's armed guards, Babbie brings a priest to quell the strikers. When Kenelly angrily attacks Babbie, Ned rescues her. After he nearly dies protecting her from being hit by a train, she almost accepts his proposal, until she remembers her sister's face. When Babbie learns that her father has been unjustly arrested and is to be executed, she rescues him and is shot. Before she dies, she tells Ned that she does love him and pleads that he love Hannah in the same manner.