The peak of the sailing ship era is the setting for the story of Kirstina Brandt whose practical caution hides a gambler's heart. For she stakes her dowery to blot out the shame of her illegitimate birth on marriage with a countryman in Boston and learns on the voyage from Denmark that it is Michael Shea who holds her heart. It is him that she marries, her dowery forfeited, and news of his death at sea sends her wandering to Canada with his young son. The great fire in Montreal brings marriage to James and run down Prospect for a home where Margaret, James' sister, and his gently mad mother, hinder her hopes of progress. Her determination to provide for Rudi and James' little son opens up ways to bring the place into production so that when Michael, seeking her, appears she flings him off and continues her way. Margaret learns of the bigamy, poisons James, both in mind and body, and, with his death, and her threats to Kirstina to no avail, suicides insanely, leaving Michael and Kirstina and the children to a secure future. A woman's novel of a woman's life in which adversity and antagonism are vanquished -- at a price -- and fate resolves a self-made bondage, this deals with its period and its regions in unassuming fashion.