Young Ben Stone is fleeing for his life over the bleak Yorkshire Moors. From being a child, he has been besotted by the local landowner's daughter Ruth, but after her wicked brother is accidentally killed, Ben fears that he will be blamed. Ruth convinces him he should run; otherwise, her father who is also the local magistrate will probably have him hanged for murder. Trying to keep out of the way of the law, he runs into a wandering band of thieves. They take him as a prisoner and he is forced to endure a desperate winter in their secret lair. When he does escape their clutches, his fortune changes, and he is taken in by a friendly parson, who runs an orphanage in Cartmel, where Ben finds a new life. A brief spell working at a chandler's shop in Barrow in Furness is rudely interrupted when Ben is pressed into the navy. The year is 1801 and the Royal Navy is desperate for men. Ben takes to life in the navy, and quickly gains promotion. He is set for a promising career, when his past returns to haunt him, in the person of Ruth, who has been married off to the new Goverr of Jamaica and needs transporting out to the Caribbean on Ben's ship. During the voyage, Ruth takes the opportunity to revive Ben's feelings for her. When he returns to England, he is confronted by his past and has to face a court-martial over the death of Ruth's brother. Can he clear his name? What part will Lady Ruth play in his future? Ben is in for many varied adventures before his life is settled.