The film revolves around the lives of the rural McDonald family. The household of Hendrik McDonald, stationmaster of the Karoo town Toorwater, experience a number of unexpected situations when a traveling circus troupe leave behind a mime named Manuel. The intrigues of the story include the estranged relationship between Hendrik and his wife Katrien, due to her being admired by Frans Lombard. Meanwhile their daughter Emma is discontent with her suitor, Nollie Kemp, and Willem, the household's youngest, remains withdrawn and refuses to talk. The eccentric clown, Manuel, is kept secret by the youngest son, Willem. He is later discovered and attacked and shot by the townsmen despite that he had succeeded in convincing Willem to communicate and healed much of the family's pain through his caring and fun nature.