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In 1763 at the Old Bailey in London, Abigail Hale is sentenced to death for helping her brother fight the press gang which was attempting to forcibly press him into service at sea. To avoid hanging, Abby agrees to fourteen years of indentured service in the colonies and boards a ship bound for Norfolk, Virginia. The ship's brutish captain, Martin Garth, who is transporting munitions for the Indians of the Ohio Valley, bids for Abby, but is outbid by Captain Chris Holden from Virginia. When the ship reaches Norfolk, Chris, who is about to be married, grants Abby her freedom. After learning that an edict has forbidden the sale of guns, Garth buys every indentured servant on the ship, including Abby, who thinks Chris has double-crossed her. Meanwhile, Chris's fiancée Diana leaves him for his brother. In Peakestown, colonial leaders who are planning to seize Pittsburgh from the Indians meet with Chris and Garth. Garth, who is a blood brother to Guyasuta, the chief of the Senecas, and has married Guyasuta's daughter Hannah in order to trade the Indians guns for furs, claims the Indians gave him the land deeds to Pittsburgh. Under Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas, Indians from the Ottawa, Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee and other tribes, meanwhile, have been circulating a war belt to enlist the tribes to fight the colonists and drive them to the sea. Chris's friend, John Fraser, found the belt on a dead Indian and gave it to him. Since the colonialists have no army, Chris offers to carry peace belts to the Indians. Chris's two scouts are quickly killed by Indians sent by Garth to steal the peace belts. Chris arrives at Fort Pitt, where Abby is a barmaid in Garth's saloon, and she helps him retrieve the belts. Armed with two pistols, Chris makes his escape with Abby to John's blacksmith shop. At a ball at Fort Pitt in honor of King George III's birthday, Garth exposes Abby to Captain Simeon Ecuyer, who was at her trial, and Chris lays claim to her in order to force Garth into a duel. Ecuyer determines Garth to be Abby's legal owner and, unaware that Garth is a traitor, forbids Chris from pursuing him and Abby. When Indian envoys alert Garth that the war has started and that they need weapons, he places Abby in the care of the Indians and goes to Guyasuta's camp, where plans are being made to burn the forts after the settlers are convinced to surrender. Meanwhile, at Fort Pitt, a widowed settler enters the ball carrying her wounded daughter and reports an Indian massacre. Ecuyer orders Chris to clear the town of people and burn it down, but he instructs John to carry out the order so that he can save Abby. Garth leaves Guyasuta's camp for Fort Pitt, forsaking Abby, who is tortured and burned by the Senecas. In a cloud of smoke, Chris arrives and convinces Guyasuta and Sioto, his medicine man, that his compass is the "medicine of death." He and Abby escape, but are pursued in canoes. By going over a mammoth waterfall, Abby and Chris convince the Senecas that they are dead, and they escape on foot to the outskirts of Venango to a cabin belonging to a family that has been killed. In Venango, all the settlers have been massacred except an old man, who warns Chris and Abby not to be tricked by the Indians into surrender. Meanwhile, Garth advises Ecuyer and Captain Steele, the officer in command, to raise a white flag at Fort Pitt, and relates Guyasuta's promise that all will be set free. Chris warns the settlers not to surrender, but is court-martialed for defying Ecuyer's earlier orders and sentenced to death. Abby agrees to stay with Garth of her own volition if he will free Chris, and Hannah, who had earlier arranged for Abby to be kidnapped by the Indians because she was jealous of Garth's interest in her, sacrifices herself by crossing the moat disguised as Chris and taking gunfire meant for him. Chris arrives at the fort at Bushy Run, held by Colonel Henry Bouquet and his 42nd Infantry, hoping his garrison will rescue Fort Pitt, but a quarter of Bouquet's men have been massacred. As the Indians begin their assault on Fort Pitt, Chris gathers a handful of the 42nd's surviving infantrymen and wagons full of dead soldiers and marches on Fort Pitt. The Indians, believing the garrison is alive, retreat. Chris kills Garth before he can escape with Abby, and is pardoned by Ecuyer. Ecuyer then marries Abby and Chris and orders Chris to go west with the frontier.