It's the time of the Tolpuddle trial and unrest. The Dorset labourers work under terrible conditions for starvation wages. When her mother and stepfather perish in a fire, an illegitimate peasant girl, Siana Lewis, is left destitute, with a young brother and baby sister to support.
Securing a job with the local rector, Siana, with her wit and beauty, will attract the attention of three men. Daniel Ayres - a young man with high hopes and very little else - is her first love, who cruelly betrays her. Francis Matheson, the local doctor, admires Siana's determination and thirst for knowledge. The pair establish a relaxed friendship. Then there's the local squire, Edward Forbes. A sensual and devious man, Edward is used to going after what he wants. He desires the beautiful peasant girl at first sight of her - and will stop at nothing to get her.