Fort Bailey, a trading fort in the western Canadian wilderness. Each spring a party of thirty six men from the fort traveled to Hudson's Bay in boats laden with pelts. The men returned in Autumn with provisions to see the fort through the harsh winter. In 1815 the party never returned. With the men two months overdue, the freshly orphaned Fitzgerald sisters (their parents having drowned), stranded in the wilderness, are brought to the fort by a resident Indian Hunter. The men there are suspicious of them, but, reluctantly, the sisters are permitted to stay.