Simpleton Clint Ringle is the main character in the story, and he's building what he hopes will be a dream house for the woman he is in love with, a schoolteacher named Ellie Marsh, whom he's planning to wed in the near future. Alas for Clint, Ellie already has a suitor whom she is planning to marry. Clint, wholly unaware of this, is shocked when Ellie turns him down one afternoon, after which Ellie is herself even more deeply shocked when she sees Clint kills the man she really loves with a hatchet right in front of her, outside the one room schoolhouse where she teaches. As becomes immediately clear to Clint his act was witnessed by some children playing outdoors nearby, thus even if his beloved kept this a secret his murder shall soon be known throughout the community.
Yet Clint clearly at the very least has an innate shrewdness all the same. What he lacks in cleverness and insight he makes up for at least somewhat in sheer animal cunning. Before long, as he has discovered that the house he was building for his beloved has been soaked in a downpour he returns to the schoolhouse and hides in its belfry. He remains there, for the most part, for the remainder of the episode. It's his only safe hiding place, and yet as the viewer can see even as Clint cannot, it's good only for the short term. It's clear to the viewer that the noose is being tightened around Clint's neck even as his whereabouts are not known. He cannot remain in hiding for long, as becomes evident when what had been his safe haven turns into a hell when someone tolls the school bell.
This is a fine episode for some, albeit not for all tastes. It has no real villain and no real hero. Clint is as blameless as he is clueless. One pities rather than hates him. He is in his way as much a victim as the man he killed. I sensed while watching it that the writer (or writers) went out of their way to make none of the characters in the story either especially likable or loathsome. One can respect the normal people of this rural community, and yet it's difficult, in our time, to identify with them. One cannot help but feel that these people behave as well as can be expected given the circumstances, the time in which the story is set, their lack of much in the way of education, in our modern sense. The ending was, for me, rather a shocker in the way it was handled. I don't see this as giving too much away or spoiling anything for prospective viewers.