Prison warden Groot receives the Justice Ministry’s reply to his application. An eager exponent of modern correctional methods, he has applied for permission to have his inmates work outdoors, and the ministry grants his request. Among the prisoners who are taken to the farm on the heath where the first test camp will be quartered are two men who have become friends inside the walls – two widely different men in appearance, character and background. One is William Førster, known as "The Smith" because of his tremendous physical strength. The other is Ruud, a young engineer convicted of "attempt of murder" based on circumstantial evidence. In court, he adamantly proclaimed his innocence. His only consolation amid the misery to which he was sentenced is that his girlfriend, Ellen v. Holme, never lost faith in him or his innocence.
One day, The Smith persuades his friend to tell him his life story. Ruud was an engineer at von Holme’s munitions factory. His closest superior was a much older engineer, Falk, who was overtly courting the owner’s daughter, Ellen v. Holme. Falk frowned at the affection he saw growing between Ruud and the girl. After a humiliating reprimand from Falk, Ruud blurted out a threat that would later become an important piece of evidence against him. The next day, Ruud heard shots from one of the storerooms and walked in to find Falk lying seriously wounded. Falk claimed Ruud shot him, and Ruud was tried and convicted. The Smith, who is being released soon, promises Ruud to find evidence to prove Ruud’s innocence. He heads directly to Ellen von Holme, who gives him a crucial piece of information. One day, she went bicycling and stopped to rest in the garden of an inn, where she overheard a couple arguing and recognised the man as a former worker at her father’s factory. The couple were now on the road as carnies. Ellen overheard the man threaten to beat the young woman if she tried to save herself by revealing a secret that appeared to involve the attempt on engineer Falk’s life.
From Ellen’s description, The Smith realises that the carnie is an old buddy of his, Spanish Smith. He decides to call on him immediately and wheedle out of him if he shot engineer Falk. Spanish Smith is happy to see his old buddy again and they plan a burglary together. Caught red-handed, Spanish Smith confesses that jealousy drove him to wait in the storeroom at von Holme’s factory and shoot Falk. Following Spanish Smith’s confession, engineer Ruud is immediately released. In gratitude for the sacrifice and commitment "The Smith" has displayed, Ruud – instantly wealthy now, having received an inheritance of 400,000 crowns – founds a home for ex-convicts, a place where they can live safely without fear of falling back into a life of crime. To head the home he names another ex-con, his good friend William Førster.