Anton Paxton, a young man of saving habits, bids his aged mother good-bye at home and walks to the village. On his way he stops to chat with his sweetheart, Great Anderson, at the gate of her home, and is surprised to find her talking with the village blacksmith, who is his rival for the hand of the girl. Anton is downhearted, but the girl shows her preference for him and the blacksmith goes away in a rage. The blacksmith goes to his forge where he is accosted by a hunter on horseback, whose horse has a loose shoe, which the blacksmith tightens. In dismounting, the hunter drops his purse and his dog picks it up and in running through the forest drops the wallet among the rocks. The hunter mounts his horse, whistles to his dog, and rides to the village inn. Anton leaves his sweetheart and goes on to the village and in passing the shop of the smith, he stoops and picks up a piece of string, which he absent-mindedly places in his pocket, and passes on. The blacksmith and his assistant note his action, but do not see what he picks up. The hunter discovers his loss and writes a notice of reward for the return of the purse, pins it on the wall of the inn and starts out. The blacksmith tells him of Anton picking up an article near the smithy. Anton is found at the inn and accused of having the wallet. He is confronted by the smith and shows the piece of string. He is not believed and is taken before a magistrate, where he is searched, but the purse is not found on his person. However, he is denounced as guilty, his sweetheart sharing in the belief. His mother is convinced he is a thief and his grief is pitiful. At church the minister preaches a powerful sermon on the sin of stealing and the congregation all of one accord look at Anton and he leaves the church disgraced. In roaming through the wood the hunter's dog finds the purse and carries it to his master, who goes to the inn and announces that he has found his property. Anton is there among the crowd and he is overjoyed in the belief that he has been vindicated by the finding of the wallet. He becomes hysterical in his gladness, calling upon all present to proclaim him innocent. His joy is short-lived, however, for the evil blacksmith, in his jealousy, accuses Anton of finding the money and hiding it in the forest, where it was discovered by the dog. All present agree with the smith and the revulsion of sentiment is too much and Anton is driven to raving madness and he drops dead, to the consternation of the villagers, who believe him innocent after he has expired.