Emma is the property of Pierce Butler and has taken care of his daughters, Sarah and Frances, since their parents divorced. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, like their mother’s, even as a rift in morals has ripped the Butler household apart. Sarah and her mother oppose the inhumanity of slavery, while Frances and her father believe in the Southern way of life and treatment of blacks.
Now, to pay off mounting gambling debts, Pierce decides to cash in his "assets" and host the biggest slave auction in American history. At the price of his humanity, he reaps just over $300,000 as the skies weep nonstop on the proceedings below. For although Butler had promised Emma’s parents not to sell her, money, desperation, and greed enable him to justify any misdeed. Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, and shifting first-person points of view, readers will travel with Emma and others through time and place, and come to understand that every decision has consequences, and final judgments is handed down not by man, but by his maker.