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In 1644, during the revolt of the English Parliament and Oliver Cromwell's army against the tyrannical rule of King Charles I, a baby wrapped in a blanket on which the name "Amber" is sewn, is left at the front door of a Puritan farmer by a fleeing nobleman, who is then killed by his pursuers. By 1660, after the death of Cromwell and the restoration of the House of Stuart, in the person of Charles II, Amber, now an attractive young woman, is betrothed by her ward, Matt Goodgroome, to a farmer. She rebels against the match, as she does not want to remain in a small village her whole life, and becomes enamored of Lord Bruce Carlton, a soldier for hire who stops at the village. Although he refuses to take her with him to London, she follows him and his best friend, Lord Harry Almsbury, and in London, she and Bruce become lovers. Because Charles believes that Bruce is pursuing his mistress, Barbara Palmer, Countess Castelmaine, with whom Bruce earlier had a romance, Charles provides Bruce two ships with which to establish a privateering enterprise and share the profits he makes robbing foreign treasure ships. When Amber learns that Bruce has gone to sea, she vows to use her wiles to achieve a social level above that of Bruce so that he will want her. She is soon cheated out of the money Bruce left her by a crooked investor and, although pregnant, is sent to prison on a false charge. In prison, she meets Black Jack Mallard, an infamous highwayman, and seeing that he is attracted to her, convinces him to take her with him when he escapes, so that her baby will be born outside of prison. Their escape is arranged by Mother Red Cap, the head of Jack's gang, who puts Amber to work after she gives birth, luring men so that the gang can rob them. Jack is killed by the King's men during one robbery attempt, and Amber avoids capture by hiding in the home of Rex Morgan, a captain of the king's guard. Morgan uses his influence to obtain Amber work as an actress, and she raises enough money to get her son, named Bruce, from Mother Red Cap and put him up in a nice country home. Amber lives with Morgan, but when he proposes, she refuses. While Morgan is in Wales, Charles sees Amber onstage and invites her to dine with him. Amber turns him down, however, when she learns that Harry has brought Bruce to the theater. She takes him to see their son, hoping he will want to settle down with her, but he plans to return to sea, as he intensely dislikes the goings on at court. When Morgan, having returned, finds them together, he challenges Bruce to a duel, saying that Amber is his fiancée. Disgusted at Amber, Bruce accepts but tries to convince Morgan to end the duel after the first blood has been drawn. Morgan refuses and Bruce kills him, then angrily berates Amber when she tries to comfort him. After Bruce departs England again, Amber marries the elderly widowed Earl of Radcliffe in order to become a countess, hoping that the title will interest Bruce. She diverts their wedding party to London, where the Black Plague is spreading, when she learns that Bruce's ship has docked there. She finds him as he is about to succumb to the plague and struggles to save his life, first killing a mercenary nurse and then lancing a dangerous boil on his chest. Bruce recovers, but Radcliffe tracks him down, and when Bruce learns that Amber is his wife, he leaves for Virginia. As a devastating fire sweeps through London, Charles attempts to seduce Amber at a ball at Whitehall. Radcliffe spirits her home, however, and locks her in her room so she cannot return to the ball. That night, as fire destroys Radcliffe Hall, Radcliffe threatens to send Amber to the country for good, then struggles with her, before a disgruntled servant hits him and throws him into the conflagration to his death. Amber soon becomes Charles' mistress. When Bruce and his new wife Corinna visit from Virginia, he tries to convince Amber, who believes he still loves her, to let him adopt their child and take him back to Virginia, as he despises the "sick age" and court life to which the boy will be exposed. Amber invites Corinna to dine with her and Charles and retires, leaving them alone, then writes a note to Bruce about his wife's whereabouts. Charles, however, deduces Amber's scheme and allows Corinna to leave, her virtue unscathed. He then tells Amber to leave because her actions, which have made him realize that she truly loves Bruce, have shattered the illusion of happiness he had created because he could not find love as a king. When Bruce comes for the child and Amber sees that the boy, who is bored with court life, is excited about going, she gives him up and sadly watches them depart.