This drama chronicles the moral fortitude and courage of a simple North Carolina farmer in 1815. The trouble begins when the widowed farmer August King takes his wagon to a nearby town to get supplies and make the final payment on his land. He arrives to find the townsfolk quite agitated as two slaves have escaped from the estate of Olaf Singletary, the richest man in town. August had earlier seen the fleeing 17-year-old slave girl. That night, he is camped out and the starving runaway stumbles in. August is a good, highly-principled man and decides to ignore his own personal risk and help her. He conceals the fugitive from Olaf and his posse as he hurries back to the safety of his farm. Still despite his efforts, word leaks out that a traveler is harboring the slave and that he has a milk cow attached to the back of his wagon. To fool the pursuers, August kills his cow, and later as he is shooting some wild rapids he loses his new pig. Eventually, August comes upon Olaf and sees him capture the other slave and brutally chop him up because he is angry that the young slave girl, for whom he has a special reason for wanting back, isn't with him. By the time August makes it back to his home, almost everything he values has been lost or destroyed, but he has learned some valuable lessons about what is really important in life.