Lavinia's spirit is willing to be a pioneer in the American west, but her flesh is weak.
A transplant to the West from London, Lavinia joined her husband Jeffry and his romantic notion of becoming a pioneer. He hired a tall, rugged guide named Cheyenne Bodie to lead them through the wilderness to the Owl River valley and their new homestead. Lavinia took one look at their strapping guide before the trip started and felt much safer. However, her persistent coughing made the guide uneasy as to her fitness for the life of a pioneer.
Combining forces with other settlers, the group started their journey. They were on the road for a week when Lavinia alerted Cheyenne to a group of attacking Comanche indians coming over the hills. Lavinia and the settlers were forced to take shelter in an abandoned way station with no provisions or water. Surrounded by hostiles and under constant threat of death, the group tried to hold out.
One night during their grueling ordeal, Lavinia pretended to be asleep while she watched her husband consider mounting his horse and leaving her behind. She cried silent tears as he lost his nerve and joined her back in their makeshift bed.
The settlers' last-ditch effort to attempt a rescue failed. Cheyenne decided to negotiate with the Comanche chief. As they waited for him to return, Jeffry poured his heart out to Lavinia, noting that he had misjudged their fitness for the rough life of the frontier. He apologized for neglecting his duty to her and reaffirmed that Lavinia was the most important thing in his life.
Cheyenne's negotiations with the Comanche required that he commit to a test of courage in a quicksand pit against the Comanche chief. The survivor and his people could leave peacefully. Lavinia clutched her husband as she watched Cheyenne and the chief sink slowly into the quicksand. Just before the pair disappeared under the muck, the Comanche pulled their leader from the pit and the settlers did the same. His honor restored, the chief allowed Lavinia and the settlers to leave peacefully.