n 1854, the Hazards pay a visit to Mont Royal. Billy loses his interest in Ashton when he sees her in the cotton barn with another man and soon turns his interest to the demure Brett. Virgilia is on her best behavior, as she has promised, until she meets James Hontoon's coachman Grady and forms an instant attraction to him. After spending the night together, she helps him run away to the North which leads to a confrontation with Huntoon. Orry feels he has little choice but to ask the Hazards to leave. Virgilia and Grady are soon living together as husband and wife but that doesn't sit well with even some of the most ardent supporters of abolition. In 1856, Billy and Charles graduate from West Point with Billy assigned to the Engineering Corps in Washington and Charles assigned to the 3rd Cavalry under the command of Robert E. Lee. Billy proposes to Brett but Orry will not allow him to court her given the current situation. Ashton continues to lie her way through society and turns to Madeline when she gets into trouble. Meanwhile, Madeline's father is on his death bed and shocks her by revealing a hidden family secret.

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