In 1783, Todd and Sarah, meet in the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains. Todd, an honored graduate of a military academy, is accused of the attempted murder of British Loyalist, Lord Wellington Howe's son, and the young couple is forced to flee with a posse close behind. Meanwhile, thugs search for sixteen-year-old Sarah Tranthem. Days later, Todd, with the help of two dogs, prevents Sarah's rape and murder. They agree to travel together for protection while Todd searches for a hidden valley-fighting off pursuers-braving the elements in a sparsely populated mountain wilderness. Todd and Sarah homestead the valley, beset by bears, horse thieves, a corrupt sheriff, and gangs still determined to kill them. The labor, hardships, and dangers draw them closer together. Providence intervenes. The pursuers attempt to destroy the young adults for several years until their failed efforts of revenge provoke them to arrange a sham trial to hang Todd's patriot father-Captain Gilbert Casey. Todd and Sarah leave their valley to make the long and difficult trip through the primitive mountain roads and the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond where Gilbert is to stand trial. The trial begins, rigged by a corrupt judge and false witnesses. It ends with gunshots. Their enemy escapes by taking command of a well-armed ship. In desperation, he challenges an American vessel. Cannon smoke drifts across the sea.