Newly born Judith is found in by eccentric Squire Gauntry in the chilled sombre ruin of a house on a bitter winter's night, her parents having died at her birth. With such a tenuous start, the child grows up to have an intense lust for life and curiosity for every new experience.
She is the natural heir to both her parents' temperaments. With the wilfulness of her mother and the stubbornness of her father, she is redeemed by a compulsion to tell the truth and a willingness to help anyone she loves in time of trouble or distress. Judith is a generation apart from the Herries family at Uldale, but the world is changing dramatically for all branches of the family.
'Liberty is the right of every human creature.' That basic tenet of John Wesley's new creed was embraced by revolutionaries worldwide, and the storming of the Bastille in France has a profound impact. Once more the Herries clan lose a leading member, and Judith is thrown back on her own resources. Then, on the brink of womanhood, she meets a childhood friend again: the dark and dangerous Georges Paris.