Food shortages continue to plague Cornwall. Angry locals riot after witnessing grain being sold illegally to foreign buyers. A grain merchant is killed during the fracas; local man Jago Martin is arrested for his murder and the Carne brothers charged with inciting a riot. MP George Warleggan manipulates a trial where they are all found guilty and sentenced to hang. Ross ensures Demelza learns none of this and, at the scene of the hanging, he argues strongly in defence of the men. The presiding Sir Francis Basset frees the Carne brothers, but Jago is hanged. Meanwhile, an election is called. Lord Falmouth nominates Lt. Hugh Armitage as his candidate, to oppose Warleggan. Armitage, with fragile health, continues to pursue Demelza who barely resists his advances. Caroline Enys informs her husband Dwight that she is pregnant. After entertaining Sir Francis for dinner, Ross and Demelza discuss their infidelities and future.
Colonel Despard, who has been wrongly imprisoned, writes to Ross urging him to return to London. Ross arrives, accompanied by Dr Enys, to find a city gripped by fear, and agrees to take up Despard’s case. He attends a meeting opposed to slavery with Despard's own brown-skinned wife, Katherine, as the speaker. At the theatre, he foils an attempt to assassinate the King, who is considered mad. His actions allow him an interview with Mr Whickham, with whom he agrees to work covertly in behalf of the government in return for Despard's release. Demelza is left to manage the Cornish estate, promising to help find work for the discontented unemployed, who are led by Tess. The house is set afire during the night, and Demelza struggles to save her son and daughter from the flames. She suspects that Tess is responsible, but the girl denies it. George finds it hard to cope following Elizabeth's death, starts behaving irrationally and having hallucinations of Elizabeth. In the meantime, he and his uncle enter into a commercial alliance with Ralph Hanson, a trader in mahogany from Honduras. In Cornwall, Morwenna struggles with her trauma but starts hoping for a recovery thanks to Drake's kind, patient and untainted love. Demelza decides to go to London with her children to join her husband, and Caroline does the same.
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