The year is 1861. America is on the brink of civil war. Brett Taylor doesn’t believe the agricultural south can beat an industrial north, especially when the fight is waged on southern soil. His mind is preoccupied with finding alternatives to growing cotton, and converting assets into gold. The impending civil war is merely a backdrop for framing the eccentric character of this likeable killer and his relationships to his three sons, two of which are slaves he sired and did not sell off at birth. One has grown to be a premier fighter who makes as much money for Brett as does his cotton. He is Sash, who only thinks of freedom in the north. The other, his younger half-brother Jules, has no such desires. He is content with life on the plantation, staying close to Brett, managing his stable animals, living in the hayloft which he has made into a personal haven.
An event involving immediate retribution, meted out by Brett, yields him a cache of gold and ignites his zeal to accumulate more. His plan is impeded by Sash, who steals the gold and goes on the run north with a woman whose child he fathered, of whom Brett has no knowledge. The story follows Brett and Jules on a quest to track down Sash and retrieve the gold. The erratic impulses of Brett juxtaposed to the sedate and more reasonable disposition of Jules makes for a highly entertaining experience.