he time is the early 1870s, and the place is Gold Hill, near what is now Placerville, California. The "Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Company" is at once beset with problems--weather and social problems, as well as financial difficulties. The members of the colony are political refugees who have fled the vengeance of the newly restored Japanese Emperor Meiji. Kei is nursemaid in the household of German adventurer Eduard Schnell who hopes to use this group of Japanese to build a profitable enterprise. Kei finds herself in the midst of considerable uproar and must discover and invent ways to cope.