In medieval times, mourners gather at the home of the Dighills and watch over the corpse of the husband. The widow goes outside when her servant arrives, and he tells them that he has searched far and wide, but all of the sin-eaters that he was sent to find are either too busy, or too sick due to the famine and the plague. One of the mourners comes out and tells him to go to Dylan Evans, and the widow agrees, telling her servant to offer the sin-eater whatever it takes to get him to come.
The servant rides to the Evans hut and Mrs. Evans says that her husband can't come. When the servant insists that all of the other sin-eaters are otherwise occupied, Mrs. Evans admits that she doesn't know because she and her family have been isolated from the community because of her husband's "profession." When she says that they're starving, the servant offers Mr. Evans all the food that he can eat. Mrs. Evans haggles, asking if her husband can ride the horse there and back. He hesitates but finally agrees, and says that Mr. Evans will also receive the three gold coins.
Mrs. Evans goes to her husband's bedroom, were her son Ian is watching and is weak with hunger. She tells him that to eat, he needs to go to the funeral and serve as a sin-eater in his father's place. Ian refuses, saying he'll be damned if he eats next to the corpse. Mrs. Evans tells him to send everyone out of the room and then hide the food and bring it home rather than eat it there. When Ian worries that he doesn't know the sin-eater ritual, she tells him to fake it as best he can and reminds him to make the final declaration that he is damned for the dead man's sins. As Ian goes, Mrs. Evans assures him that she and her husband won't eat the food, but they'll feed themselves with the three gold coins.
The servant takes Ian to the funeral, and the widow wonders how Ian can handle the burden of sin. Ian insists that he's hungry and goes to the corpse, drooling at the sight of all the food placed around it. When the mourners tell him to start, the widow pushes Ian down to the food. However, he remembers to tell them all to go and leave him alone to conduct the ceremony. The mourners point out that it isn't traditional, but Ian refuses to do the ceremony otherwise and the servant and widow realize they have no choice.
Once the mourners have left, Ian starts praying at the top of his lungs and hiding the food beneath his robes. Although he's covered in discarded food, Ian manages to resist eating anything. Finally he says the final prayer taking the sins onto himself, and the mourners come in and see that the food is gone, apparently eaten. Ian runs out in horror as the widow throws the gold coins after him.
When Ian returns home, Mrs. Evans takes the food and the coins, and makes sure that he didn't eat one morsel. She then leads Ian to the bedroom and reveals that Dylan died while the son was gone. She puts the food next to the corpse and explains that the starving Ian must serve as sin-eater to his own father, using the stolen food. Ian cringes at the thought of absorbing the sins of not just a man, but a sin-eater who has taken on the sins of dozens of men. Mrs. Evans insists that he can't let his father die unrepented and unshriven, and reminds her starving son of how delicious the food is. Driven to the edge of starvation and weighted under by guilt, Ian finally eats the food, says the prayer to take on the sins, and screams as they enter his soul.