In 1685, Jean-Claude Dubois, son of a French spice merchant, escapes from the violence against Protestant Huguenots and sails to Prussia. Jean-Claude falls in love with Marie and they marry and have a daughter, Katy. At thirteen, fluent in French, Katy is sent away to be the companion of spoiled, aristocratic Charlotte to tutor her for a marriage into French nobility. Katy must accompany her to France, where she meets the blacksmith’s apprentice, Gilles. Their love appears doomed when the family takes her to Versailles for the wedding. They remain there for two years, while Charlotte’s lecherous brother Franz pursues Katy to become his mistress and, although terrified of him, Katy is powerless to help herself. Finally Katy and Gilles are reunited when the family returns, but Franz, enraged at Katy’s stubborn refusal, frames Gilles for attempted murder, sending the young couple fleeing for their lives across the French countryside.