Exmoor, 1800. When farmer's daughter Peggy Shawe meets the charismatic Ralph Duggan, son of a so-called "free trader", it's love at first sight. Determined to prevent the match, Peggy's widowed mother sends her daughter to live with the Duggans for six weeks, believing she will be put off marriage to Ralph when she discovers what life is like among a smuggling family. Matters take a dramatic turn however when Ralph's brother Philip is suspected of murder, and Ralph and Philip are despatched to distant relatives across the Atlantic. Heartbroken, Peggy vows to be reunited with her lover one day. But it will be several years before she and Ralph are destined to meet again -- and in very different circumstances.