The story opens in Philadelphia in 1848, where after taking odd jobs, Rory finds permanent work at Rachel's uncle's gunpowder mill. Rachel travels to Philadelphia to stay with her aunt and uncle after her father dies. Her aunt introduces her to Caleb Staunton, a wealthy legal adviser and shareholder in the mill, but Rachel is only interested in Rory. An explosion at the mill leads to reforms, rebuilding of the mill, and financing of a shipment for Rory to buyers in the west that will bring top dollar - all thanks to Caleb. Meanwhile Deidre arrives from overseas with her baby brother, but they are separated. She is reunited with Rory and meets Caleb, sparking a relationship between them despite her common law marriage to Rachel's brother David. When word comes that David has died in India, the way is paved for Deidre to marry Caleb in a double ceremony with Rachel and Rory. But in an ironic twist, Rachel learns her brother is not dead and she hides this knowledge to allow Deidre to marry Caleb. But David eventually shows up to claim Deidre, leading to a duel between he and Caleb. David loses the duel but his life is spared and he travels with Rory out west to settle. Rory returns after the sale to find Rachel has just lost their baby during childbirth.moreless
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