Young Tom and his father arrive in the Calder Valley on a dark stormy night in 1722. Tom is soon an orphan and finds himself a pauper in the workhouse until Mr. Firth, a hilltop clothier, agrees to take him on as an apprentice.
Tom tries his best but his life is made miserable by sullen journeyman-weaver Jeremy, and a series of accidents makes him wonder if his life is in danger.
A trip to Halifax Piece Hall reveals dark secrets, and when the drying cloth starts disappearing from the tenterhooks, Tom must fight to stay alive and prove his innocence.
This is the furthest back in time of Phyllis Bentley's exciting locally-based historical novels about everyday life in the local textile industry.