Adapted from Johann Sigurjonson's play, a poor thief works for a widow, is discovered, and flees to the mountains with her.
In Iceland in the mid-18th century the bailiff Bjorn (Nils Ahren) tells a boy and Arnes (John Ekman) to find the stray sheep. Arnes catches Kari (Victor Sjostrom) with wool, but he sends him to Halla (Edith Erastoff) for work. She lets him stay a month on trial.
Bjorn asks Halla to marry him so they can join their land, but she resents that he told his brother not to marry her. Halla gives Kari a quilt for his bed. While attending church Bjorn learns that Kari is the thief Ejvind. At a festival Halla announces that Kari is her steward. Bjorn tells her that Kari is a thief from the south. Kari denies it. Halla suggests they wrestle, and Kari throws Bjorn down. Bjorn says he will be imprisoned and leaves.
Halla asks Kari to marry her, but he says no. He says he knew Ejvind, who was poor. Ejvind has a large family and goes to the rich parson, but he does not help him. So Ejvind steals a sheep. Ejvind's gloves were found there, and he is arrested and sentenced to ten years. Kari admits that he is Ejvind and says he escaped. He lived in the mountains for a year. Halla says she will no longer believe men. Kari tells her that he loved her but that Kari no longer exists.
Bjorn brings the authorities, and they look for Kari. After they leave, he tells Halla that he is going to the mountains. Halla says she will go with him, and he asks her to be his wife.
They live in the table lands for five years and have a child. Arnes arrives and tells Kari that he is an outlaw too. While Kari and Arnes fish, Halla does washing. Kari falls over the edge of a cliff but clings to a plant. Arnes throws him a rope and considers cutting it but pulls him up. They see footprints.
While Kari is bathing, Arnes tries to kiss Halla, saying it is the devil. Arnes tells her he is leaving to go back to people. Arnes sees eight men coming. Halla says they won't get her baby and goes to the cliff. Bjorn struggles with Halla, who calls Kari. He fights Bjorn, who has a knife; but Kari overcomes him.
Kari and Halla suffer starvation and cold. Halla blames Kari, who says she is ugly. They remember sixteen years back. Kari prepares to leave, and Halla asks him to kill her. Kari prays. She suggests they die together. Kari wants to live and goes out to get wood for her. He finds Halla in the snow, and death gives them forgiveness.
This drama shows poor humans up against powerful natural
forces as well as social customs that prevent a more equal distribution
of goods. A couple finds love for each other but eventually succumb.