It is 1876, and as the corruption of the ruling classes seeping ever deeper into the lives of ordinary folk in the town of Rufford in Maine, Hannah Trevor, the town's midwife, is finally discovering some peace after years of turmoil. For Hannah, already with child, is soon to marry her lover Daniel Josselyn and become mistress of Mapelton Grange. But there is trouble looming - Dr Samuel Clinch has petitioned the Magistrate's Court to bring charges against her over the death of a patient. So imagine Hannah's horror when, out walking with Daniel, she comes upon Clinch's bloated and burnt body. And why does Daniel reel back at the sight of the corpse, muttering 'What have I done?'...'