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Sparrows (1926)

Mr. Grimes and his wife operate a dismal “baby farm” near an alligator-infested swamp. Molly, an adolescent inmate and the oldest of their charges, attempts to provide the other tattered, starving kids with the loving maternal care they need. Most of the children are orphans. One mother sends her child a doll, but Grimes crushes its head and tosses it into the swamp.

The children are ordered to hide anytime someone comes to the farm. When a hog buyer shows up, Ambrose, the Grimes’ son, maliciously prevents Splutters, one of the children, from hiding. The buyer then purchases the boy from Grimes.

Molly has promised the others that God will rescue them. When a boy asks why nothing has happened after a month, she tells him that He is busy attending to sparrows (a biblical reference).

Ambrose catches Molly with stolen potatoes, so she and the others are given no supper. She pleads for the children, especially the sick, youngest baby, to no avail. Late that night, in a vision, Christ enters the barn where they sleep and takes the baby. When Molly wakes up, the child is dead.

Joe Bailey and his associate bring a kidnapped baby girl to the farm for concealment until they receive a ransom from the rich father, Dennis Wayne. When Grimes reads about the kidnapping in the newspaper several days later, he decides it is safer to chuck the baby into the swamp.

When Ambrose grabs the little girl to carry out the plan, Molly gets her back. After she fights off Grimes with a pitchfork, he strands her in the hayloft and decides he must get rid of her, too.

That night, Molly flees with the children. Grimes finds this hilarious; he figures either the mud or the alligators will take care of the children. However, when the kidnappers come back for the baby, he leads them on a search.

Meanwhile, Splutters is brought to the police station, having been discovered by one of the search parties. He tells the policemen and Mr. Wayne about the baby farm.

Molly and the kids emerge unscathed from the swamp and hide aboard a boat, unaware it belongs to the kidnappers. Pursued by the police, Grimes runs into the swamp, but falls into deep mud and perishes, while the two criminals flee in the boat. Unable to shake the harbor patrol, they try to slip away in a dinghy, but are run over and drown.

The baby is reunited with her wealthy father, but when she refuses to drink her milk without Molly, Mr. Wayne offers Molly a comfortable home. She accepts only on condition that he take in the other children as well.

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