Chance Fraser, orphaned, grew up working on the canals of industrial England. He foils a kidnapping and rescues Emily, the young daughter of a wealthy family, but doesnt reveal himself to her. He meets her ten years later, serving on a steamship which she takes to Egypt to join her husband. In Tunis she gets into trouble and is accused of spying. Again Chance rescues her. Skipping forward ten years, Chance is wounded and gets captured in the siege of Vicksburg in the Civil War and is locked up in Helmira, the notorious prison camp. He gets sick, and this times, Emily nurses him back to health. Again they are separated and lose track of each other. Chance works on the transcontinental railroad then ends up in the gold fields of British Columbia panning for gold. When he strikes it rich, he goes looking for her.