Farmer August King (Jason Patric) hits trouble when he reaches his town to make the final payment on his land. Two slaves have escaped from Olaf Singletary's (Larry Drake) estate and the people of the town are in a state about it. That night one of the escapees, 17-year-old Annalees Williamsburg (Thandie Newton), runs into August. August decides to help her and hide her from Olaf when he learns that she has been abused by her master - but in doing so, August is risking everything he owns. Town gossip spreads fast and the word is soon out that someone is harbouring the slaves.