In 1845, trader Oliver Hale is returning to California with his bride Garnet, whom he met during his business trip to New York. The newlyweds are dining in a New Orleans music hall, where Garnet is fascinated by the "shocking" performance of the show's star. When Oliver steps away briefly to converse with a colleague, the performer rescues Garnet from the advances of two presumptuous men, then introduces herself as Florinda Grove. Later, at their hotel, a New York detective who claims that Florinda is wanted for murder, is searching for her, but the Hales, believing her innocent, disguise and smuggle her aboard a riverboat headed for St. Louis. Eventually the newlyweds join a wagon train traveling the Jubilee Trail. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, they re-encounter Florinda, who now keeps house for "Deacon" John Bartlett, a mule trader who is nicknamed for the fiery sermons he preaches when drunk. While Oliver is away on a short business trip to Taos, Oliver's friend, John Ives, comes to town looking for him and before realizing who she is, kisses Garnet flirtatiously. Upon learning that Oliver is married, Ives waits for his return to deliver personally a letter from Oliver's brother Charles. 1954
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