Sarah is only in her late twenties but has been a widow for two years now. She lives in a log cabin in the middle of the wild, rugged Canadian countryside with her 8-year-old son Timmy and her mother, Ruth.
As another hard winter approaches without any hope that Sarah can make any money from logging, she discovers one day that their meagre stock of firewood is all rotten. So when the friendly local preacher Ben proposes to Sarah, her mother urges her to accept on purely practical grounds.
Sarah likes and respects Ben, though she doesn’t love him, so she asks for some time to think over his proposal. She secretly hopes that she will be allowed to teach at the local school, but in a conservative region like this people don’t want a woman to teach their children - even one with excellent qualifications.