It is fall 1759. The saga of Jack Frake and Hugh Kenrick moves to Caxton, a small trading town on the York River in Virginia, some miles up the wide river from Yorktown. Jack Frake, after having served his eight-year indenture, is a successful tobacco planter, having inherited his property from his former master, with whom he formed a close father-son relationship. He married the master's daughter, but she and her son died in childbirth. His close friend on the plantation is John Proudlocks, an Indian whom he taught to read. Other planters' properties lay on the outskirts of Caxton, including Reese Vishonn's, the largest planter.
Hugh Kenrick arrives in Caxton on the Sparrowhawk on the very day news arrives of General Wolfe's victory over Montcalm in Quebec. He has spent several years in Philadelphia, attending an academy and learning the trade and business in the shop of Otis Talbot, a merchant he met years before in England. After touring a bankrupt plantation, Brougham Hall, with Talbot, he decides to purchase it--and its slaves. He is invited to a victory ball at Reece Vishonn's great house at his plantation, Enderly. There he meets Étaín McRae, the daughter of a Scottish trader, and Jack Frake. As gossip and rumors fly around Caxton about Hugh Kenrick's status and his intentions, Hugh decides on a name for his new possession: Meum Hall--My Hall. Hugh is invited to call on Francis Fauquier, Esquire, lieutenant governor of Virginia, in Williamsburg. In the governor's mansion, the lieutenant governor and Hugh have a frank exchange of views on the war, on North America, on the Indians, and on Britain's mercantilist hold on the colonies.