At the start of T.L.K., the two young brothers- Harry (eight years old) and Davy (five)- have arrived in Halifax Harbour on a ship from Britain. They had been staying in an orphanage in England until a close family member was found, which turns out to be their grandfather James MacKenzie in Nova Scotia. Over the course of the film, we learn that James and his son, Alec, had been estranged, as MacKenzie opposed his son's leaving the family farm and becoming a soldier. They had not reconciled when Alec was killed, something which preys on James' mind and also furthers his resentment and anger at those who deprived him of his son- the Boers.
As he and the boys walk from the town to the farm, the boys curiously ask James about it. To their disappointment, he has no horses or dogs, only a cow, an ox, and chickens. Once out of the settlement, James stops and removes the fine boots he is wearing. He tells the boys that their father sent him the boots from England, but that he didn't wear them until he heard of his son's death, and then it was too late. He's so cheery and uplifting.
The boys are given free rein to run about and explore the farm, but are told never to go up on the hill, which is the land James is having a dispute with the Hoofts over. That night when Kirstie is tucking the boys into bed, they ask her to read one of the letters their father had written to them and their mother while he was in South Africa. Hesitantly she does so: in it Alec MacKenzie described to the boys finding a stray dog and sharing his rations with him. He also wrote to his wife, saying that when the war was over, they would move to Canada and build a house on the hill overlooking his father's farm.
That night, when telling their grandfather about Davy's fall, Harry says that it happened because "Dr. Boer" was fishing on their beach. Kirstie tells Harry to be quiet, that he doesn't know what he's talking about. James glares suspiciously at her and says, "He is a Boer." He then takes down his rifle and gets ready to go keep watch on the hill, which he's been doing every evening. Kirstie, unable to stop herself, demands that he not go out on the hill with his rifle, causing him to reprimand her sharply. As Kirstie takes the boys up to bed, James tells Maggie that he can't understand what's gotten into the girl. His wife says that Kirstie's afraid that he'll see someone on the hill and that something bad will happen. She then changes the subject, mentioning the dog that Harry and Davy want. James says that he said no and means it; it's "good for their characters to do without". As I said, Mr. Fun. Maggie says that they're the sons of his only son, and that he's denying them and "driving them down the same wrong road". James rejects this notion, but she urges him to think of what the "Good Book" says: that there is no judgement without mercy. Grimly, James heads out to the hill.
Meanwhile, on the hill, at the first shot Harry and Jan stop fighting and crouch low. Cautiously raising their heads, they quickly pull each other back to the ground as the next shot whistles over them. Harry says that he can't go back down the hill, because he'd be picked off. Jan says that Harry can come with him to his place; "My pa don't shoot". So the two boys slink off to the Hoofts.
When James comes home from searching for Harry, he tells Maggie that he could find no sign of him. Maggie tells him that Harry's come home, and he fearfully steps out from behind her. James takes the strop off of the door and tells Harry to go to the woodshed. As they hear the sound of the strop, Maggie picks up Davy and rocks him, telling him that Harry was in the wrong, and that in the morning, he'll have forgotten all about the whipping. Kirstie, flinching at the sound, bursts out that no, her father was in the wrong. Unable to take anymore, she runs from the house.
Back on the MacKenzie farm, James and Maggie are sitting up- James fuming and Maggie trying to convince him that Kirstie wouldn't stay out all night without good reason. Fortunately for Harry, they are too upset to notice him slipping in late, leaving the baby sleeping in the cave. When Willem and Kirsty finally get to the farm, she makes him stop a distance from the house. He tells her how much he enjoyed spending time with her, and kisses her. As she heads for the house, Willem's horse neighs, and James comes out of the house. Seeing Willem Hooft with his daughter enrages him, and he tells Kirstie that she should be ashamed of herself. When Willem defends her, James begins shouting accusations at him. Kirstie starts crying and runs back towards the carriage, but startles the horse, which rears up, knocking her over. She hits her head on a rock and loses consciousness.
The next morning, Harry skips school to care for "Edward", stealing some eggs from the hen house and milk from the cow to feed him. Willem has stayed to treat Kirstie, who hasn't woken up yet, and James and Maggie are too distracted to notice Davy sneaking off to be with Harry and the baby. When Kirstie finally wakes up, Willem tells her that she's going to be fine, but she is distraught, saying that her father will never forgive them. He tells her that they will find a way. As Willem exists the house to head home, James stops chopping wood, and the two men stare impassively at each other, and then the doctor leaves. Awkward!
That afternoon, James looks up and sees searchers on the hill. Having heard nothing about the missing baby, he assumes it's men sent to take the land, but Tom Cameron, who is aiding in the search, tells him and Maggie what's going on, saying he thought Harry would have told them. Maggie says that Harry hasn't come home from school yet, but Mr. Sinclair, who is with the search party, informs them that Harry didn't show up at school that morning. When Harry and Davy come back to the house for supper, James comes out on the step and orders Harry to the woodshed. He demands to know where he was all day, but Harry won't tell him. He says that Harry will have to stay in the woodshed until he does.
In the woodshed, Harry is worried about the baby. He yells for Davy, who sneaks out to the shed door. Harry tells him that he'll have to go to the cave, because Edward has been alone for too long. Davy tells him he's scared, but Harry tells him he's got to do it. Davy tries, but becomes frightened by the thunder and lightening. In the house, Maggie is trying to convince James to let Harry out of the shed when they hear Davy crying outside. James goes out, and collecting the terrified Davy, enters the woodshed and insists that Harry tell him what's going on. Harry gives in and tells him about the baby, and he and Davy take him to their cave. James carries the baby- who is none the worse for wear- to the house, showing him to Maggie , then starting into town with him.