A discharged schoolteacher desperate for cash blackmails a happy family. He knows that their youngest daughter is adopted, & comes from a tragic background - her father killed her mother, then himself. The middle-aged couple love raising their daughters in the picturesque Appalachin mountains. The husband, a forest ranger, wants to shield the daughter from taunts and gossip. The smarmy blackmailer keeps coming back for more, so the husband mulls other options and their consequences. Then the blackmailer's accomplice is found murdered deep in the pines.