The Civil War over, the survivors in the South often found a whole new battle to be fought -- back on the plantation. Here it is Miss Ellen, a widow, returning with her widowed daughter- in-law and grandson, who finds, after all her high hopes in Raleigh during the war, that things will never be the same:- the Negroes have run away; the house has been senselessly pillaged; there is no assurance -- beyond her dreaming and wishfulness -- that there can be a return to the past. But Lucy Gray, bound to her mother-in-law, determines that the Carolina fields will grow again, that Miss Ellen will have the security she has always known. Miss Ellen- learning through the scattered Negroes, the flood, the recruiting of help, the assistance that Ward Caldwell is giving Lucy, - comes to know that her world has vanished, that she is keeping Lucy from true freedom, and that a return to Raleigh to be among her contemporaries with their memories of the past is the payment she must make. In evocative terms this is a post-Civil War landscape, of heart and emotions, of people and situations to be faced, that suggests rather than defines its story and in so doing creates its own, lonely, abandoned atmosphere with shadowed effects.