England. 1642. War is coming. The rift between King and Parliament has widened and armies muster, ready to fight for their religious and political ideals. Nothing is so destructive as civil war, and for the Rivers family, the raising of the royal standard heralds a conflict that threatens to tear them apart. A knight and friend of King Charles, Sir Francis Rivers' loyalty is beyond question. So should be that of his family. However another Royalist, Lord Henry Denton, imprisons a suspected Catholic priest and in so doing makes an enemy of Sir Francis' youngest son, Tom. For Tom is betrothed to Martha Green, the imprisoned man's daughter. In desperation, Martha pleads with Denton to free her father. He agrees, but on one condition: she must give herself to him. In the event, Denton reneges and Martha watches her father hang.