Yanko Gooral, a shipwrecked Ukranian sailor, washes ashore as the sole survivor of ill-managed ship up-ended during a storm. It's 19th century England and Gooral is on his way to America. Struggling across the moors, he comes across New Barns Farm where Amy Foster works as a servant to the Smith family. Shocked by his accent and manners, the villagers brand him an escaped lunatic and he must seek shelter in the Smith's woodshed. Amy finds him, cleans his wounds, and brings food and water. After he recovers, the village puts him to work cleaning up the dead bodies that have washed ashore until Dr. Kennedy points out the horror they are inflicting on the poor man. Communicating through the universal language of chess, Kennedy discovers Gooral's intelligence and a friendship begins to develop. Amy and Yanko begin a courtship against the wishes of the community and decide to marry. After the birth of their son, happiness seems assured until, in a moment of great need, the town rejects them yet again.