4 outcasts, kicked out of their home in Poker Flat; Oakhurst, Uncle Billy, the Duchess, and Mother Shipton.
Along the trail, they encounter Tom and Piney. Mr. Oakhurst had met Tom in a poker game previously. the outcast and younglings decide to travel together.
The group decides to post up in a shack for several cold nights. during the nighttime, Uncle Billy steals their mules, leaving the group without transportation.
To pass the time, Tom tells the group stories, namely of "The Iliad". The group cheerfully listened like little kids during storytime.
Mother Shipton, having grown close with Piney, starves herself to death so Piney has more food to eat. The next day, Oakhurst and Tom leave for help and/or firewood.
Knowing he had left an insufficient amount of firewood, leading to the Duchess and Piney dying in each other's arms, Oakhurst shoots himself in the heart and leaves a poetic card pinned to the tree above him