Sarah MacPhail has everything going for her. A well-to-do heiress of the Mt. Etna Iron Company, she is pretty, bright, and in love with Phillip Chamberlain, a handsome, talented poet and professor at Juniata College. All looks promising until -- one by one -- her dreams come crashing down, her illusions fade, and she is left with responsibility for what remains of the once thriving iron plantation and her younger brother, Ned, whom people describe as in their kindest way as "odd".Haunted by the fear that she won't be able to hold the plantation together and keep her willful brother under control, Sarah goes to great lengths to stave off the slow but inexorable decline.Her efforts on both fronts meet resistance at every turn as Ned struggles for respect and dignity as valiantly as Sarah works to control him. Through it all, her childhood friend, Richard Trethaway -- yes, one of those Trethaways -- stands ready to help, support and defend her. This last generation of a once proud family suffers loss on a grand scale, but love -- patient, enduring love -- finds a way to last.