In an outlying village in a far-away valley a young woman is assaulted and falls pregnant. The beloved pastor's stiffened corpse is found on the forest path, and winter keeps its grip on the land until June. Despondency and unease take root. When rumours begin to spread of the approach of a mysterious figure, a stranger astride a magnificent brown stallion, the conviction grows that he alone can lead the village through its hour of need. Accepting the villagers' invitation to settle in the valley, Nathaniel Cadwallader ushers in a golden age of faith and tranquillity. Yet there are those who resent the ease with which he holds the village in the palm of his hand, and when a beautiful outsider attempts to claim the carpenter as her own, the spell is broken, with tragic consequences.
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