A domestic melodrama, curiously prim in interludes between episodes of violent tragedy, which occasionally is flooded with an underlying black folk sorrow. Widowed Clothilda, who takes in roomers and sewing, has devoted her affection and hopes to the rearing of her two grandchildren: 11-year-old Lester who is bright and loving, and 16-year-old Addle, moody and difficult. But Clothilda is sin-haunted. She bore her only child Rosie by her brother-in-law; and Rosie's own jealous anguish brought on her terrible murder by her husband -- a deed witnessed by the child Addle. As Clothilda casts about helplessly for a solution, Addle sets about her own destruction via an affair with a married man and an attempted suicide. Addle does repent but Clothilda, anticipating a prophetic doom, sinks into madness and kills her granddaughter. Throughout a kindly middle-aged roomer tries to help, then plans to adopt Lester, but it is obvious the boy has been altogether crippled by his loss. Deep rivers, old style.