In the end what have you? A portrait of a Southern town, loyal to the sanctity of a family they cherish, united in their determination to protect the present and what measure of equilibrium has been attained, from the prying of a Ventner, a Northern journalist into a dubious sin of the past. Lined against him is the Trafford clan, from the old man protecting -- one assumes- his absent son, to the son-in-law, Barfield, an ""outsider"" and self-made, but perhaps even more determined to shield the old injustice from the deadly light of truth. Then comes the threat of flood, and the town is united in a bigger goal, under the direction of the engineer working on the dam, and the impetus of Barfield, now for the first time seizing something bigger than himself. Still Ventner ferrets out the old truth, and only when the Negro for whom he seeks belated justice, turns on the boy David, who is his friend, and is killed, does he see that the present and the future have their claims. There are side issues- from the emotional entanglements of Barfield to the minor vignettes of local events, but in the main this shows up the tentacles of a Georgia town.