A poor couple makes orphans work on their swampy farm; but the oldest takes care of the children and helps them escape when a kidnapped child is endangered.
On southern swampland Mr. Grimes (Gustav von Seyffertitz) destroys a doll that a mother sent for her child. Molly (Mary Pickford) and the children fly a kite with a note for help and let it go, praying. When a bell rings, they hide. Mr. Grimes does not want anyone to know they are there. He orders the children to work in the garden. Molly clashes with Ambrose Grimes (Spec O'Donnell), and she stops Splutters from fighting.
A man rings the bell to buy hogs. His barrel rolls into the swamp and sinks. The man sees Splutters. Mr. Grimes says he is an orphan, and the man buys him to work on his farm. After they leave, Ambrose makes the children go back to work and sees that Molly has potatoes. Mrs. Grimes (Charlotte Mineau) denies them supper.
A nurse in a big house discovers the child is gone and tells Dennis Wayne (Roy Stewart). Joe Bailey (Lloyd Whitlock) brings little Doris Wayne (Mary Louise Miller) to Grimes and gives him money to take care of her. Molly reads Bible stories, and the children wonder why they are forgotten. Mr. Grimes gives Doris to Molly and takes her blanket.
Molly is caring for a little baby. She dreams that Jesus comes to her and takes the baby. Molly awakes and cries. The police chief tells Dennis that they will bring in Bailey. The Grimes see a photo of Doris in the newspaper and plan to drown her. Ambrose takes Doris, but Molly pushes him in the swamp. She gets a rope and a horse to pull him out. Ambrose tells Mr. Grimes what she did. He asks for Doris, but Molly refuses and defends herself with a pitchfork. Mr. Grimes removes the ladder from the loft, locks the barn, and gets his dog to guard it.
Dennis tells the police chief that he will pay the ransom. Splutters is brought in and tells about the baby farm. Molly and the children go out the back, and she leads them across the swamp on boards. Mr. Grimes sees them and laughs, assuming they will drown or be eaten by alligators. Bailey asks him where the kid is, and Mr. Grimes takes him to Creek Road.
Molly and the children use a rope tied to a branch to swing across the swamp. Mrs. Grimes sends the dog after them. The children climb on trees above the alligators. When they make it, Molly prays in thanks. Mr. Grimes and Bailey are waiting; but a car arrives with police, who shoot at them. Mr. Grimes falls into the swamp and sinks. Molly and the children get into a boat that Bailey steers. The harbor police chase them. Bailey gets in a rowboat that is hit by the police boat. The police board the boat and find Molly and the children. She says they are hers.
Dennis gets Doris back from Molly. At home Doris cries for Molly, and she arrives to calm her by feeding her with a home-made bottle. Dennis invites Molly to live there and agrees to take in the other eight children as well.
This touching melodrama portrays the cruelty that can
accompany ignorant poverty and the ability of children to adapt
to their circumstances.