It is the story of a deaf girl, Belinda McDonald, who is befriended by the new doctor, Dr. Robert Richardson, who comes to the area of Cape Breton Island in far eastern Canada, at the end of the nineteenth century. The doctor realizes that, although she cannot hear or speak, Belinda is very intelligent. She lives on a farm with her father, Black McDonald, and her aunt, Aggie McDonald, and rarely goes into town. The family sells farm goods to the near by town, mainly flour. Her father and aunt resent Belinda because her mother died giving birth to her. Dr. Richardson teaches Belinda sign language, and what things are. Over time his affection for her grows.
The doctors secretary, Stella McCormick, tries to get the doctor to court her. But, the doctor does not see her that way at all. After she figures out that he is becoming attracted to Belinda, she starts to resent both the doctor and Belinda.
One of the family's customers, Locky McCormick, goes to the farm when Belinda is alone and rapes her. She becomes pregnant. When the town finds out that she is pregnant they suspect Dr. Richardson, because he has spent the most time with her. As time goes by, the pressure of the rumors finally cause the doctor to look for a new practice. He decides to marry Belinda and take her, and the baby, with him. He goes on ahead to find both a new place to practice and a new home for them.
While he is away finding them a new home, McCormick, now married (to the Doctors former secretary, Stella), makes up his mind that he wants the child that is his. He goes to visit the baby and when Black McDonald sees him, he orders him to leave. After McCormick confesses to Black that the baby is his, and will come back and get the child, Black then proceeds to follow him, attempting to make him break and threatening to expose himself to the town. They fight, and McCormick throws McDonald off the cliff into the sea.
Now Belinda and her aunt Aggie try to run the farm, but soon start struggling to pay the bills and keep the farm up. The town, at the urging of McCormick, has a meeting and declares Belinda "unfit" to care for the child. When McCormick and his wife come to take the baby, Belinda first makes Stella McCormick realize that she is smarter than the townspeople have given her credit for, and that she will not give up her baby without a fight. Then after Stella confronts Locky, and he confesses to her that the child is his, he goes in to retrieve the baby. Belinda tries to block his path; he shoves her down and heads up the stairs. She then grabs a shotgun, and shoots and kills him. Belinda is arrested and goes on trial for murder. At the trial Dr. Richardson tells how McCormick was the one that raped Belinda, and that she was protecting her property and family. The court dismisses this as the doctors love for her, but then finally Stella, holding old deep romantic feelings for the doctor, says that it is true, that her husband had confessed the truth to her on that day. Belinda is set free for protecting her baby and home.