It is 1838 and whilst John and Daniel celebrate the reprieve of the Tolpuddle Martyrs the new Poor Law drives economic migrants from Southern England to the mill in the form of agricultural worker John Howlett and his family and shoemaker Abe Whittaker and his grandson Will, who takes a shine to Esther. Hannah has also brought Peter, a freed slave from the former plantation, to work in the garden whilst Robert is now an MP and younger brother William, the father of Susannah's eldest child, is in charge of the mill. Esther threatens to tell Hannah of her son's indiscretion unless he recognizes when her indentures end and loans her money for sister Martha, still unemployed. She is successful but wages are cut, William attempting to blame the fact on the Corn Laws. However Daniel knows that William intends to spend the money saved on more machinery. John Howlett fails to see this and refuses to countenance Daniel's proposal that they espouse the union though Peter is more sympathetic.