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Charlotte Dunterry returns to her family home in Fairville, Virginia after having lived in New York City most of her life. "Charlie," a city sophisticate who is ignorant of Southern ways, is appalled at the rundown condition of her family home, a 150-year-old mansion built by Thomas Jefferson, which she has inherited and plans to sell. She becomes reacquainted with Stonewall Jackson Elliott, a former family friend who, having lost his ancestral home, now lives in a modest cottage with his cousin Theo Clairmont and his little daughter, Pretty Elliott, while his wife leads the life of an adventuress abroad. Through the influence of Stoney and Joseph, a former black servant who has returned to the Dunterry estate so that he can die at home, Charlie comes to appreciate Southern customs and history, and she reworks her land as a farm so that she can earn income rather than sell the house. Charlie is assisted by Joseph, and Ophelia and Ezechial, kindhearted descendants of slaves who chose to remain at the Dunterry estate. Charlie and Stoney fall in love, but when he rebuffs her because he is married, she accepts the marriage proposal of Norman Williams, a handsome Northerner who is her next-door neighbor and has been wooing her. Stoney nevertheless continues to work Charlie's farm. One day during a horse race, Charlie's horse accidentally kicks Pretty in the head, but Charlie gives her own blood for a transfusion for Pretty and the child recovers. The near-tragedy cements Stoney and Charlie's love and, in time, Charlie believes that Stoney will marry her. She becomes embittered, however, when Stoney receives word that his wife is returning home for good, and Charlie then returns to New York. Stoney's wife returns in a coffin, however, and Norman withholds the news of her death from Charlie so that there will be no obstacles to their marriage. Charlie hears the news on the day of her wedding and is deeply touched when Stoney arrives to "give the bride away," since he is the closest thing she has to a relative. Standing before the altar, Norman is swayed by Stoney's goodwill, and he releases Charlie from their engagement so that she and Stoney can marry. With this union, Charlie finally embraces her Southern heritage.