To the small band of pioneers struggling westbound to the Rocky Mountains in the bitter winter of 1846, the chance meeting with Major Dart Richards of the U.S. Cavarlry is a fateful encounter. And to the orphaned Polly Kirkham, it is especially disturbing. Brought up by the Mormons, she is still unable to accept their faith, though she willingly accompanies them on their trek. The Major intrigues her - for he too is a misfit.
But Dart has vowed never again to become involved with a woman. So why instead of enjoying the pleasures of St Louis, does he find himself shepherding a small company of women, children, oxen, goats and hens across the icy wastes in pursuit of an ideal?