In 1860, a New Orleans French Creole maid, Léa Marriotte, is tired of her lowly social status and dreams of being wealthy. She gets romantically involved with wealthy playboy George Brissac whose influential clan controls much of the region. However, George Brissac is engaged to marry rich and spoiled New Orleans socialite Cynthia Winthrop. Wanting to cast Léa aside, George Brissac has her arrested on charges of murder, after a violent confrontation between Léa and house servant Phillipe ends-up with Phillipe being accidentally killed. Léa's fate seems to be sealed after a short trial biased by false testimonies and fabricated evidence. However, she is saved by sea captain Michael Fabian who intercedes in her behalf with the local magistrate. He even buys a tavern for Léa in order to provide her with a source of income and better social status. Nevertheless, Léa is not romantically interested in Michael Fabian. Instead, she continues to pursue the wealthy George Brissac. Her opportunity arises when George Brissac gets drunk at his bachelor's party and cajoles with her at the Brissac Manor. When, in a drunken rage, George strangles his uncle and benefactor Henri Brissac, Léa blackmails him into marrying her in order to buy her silence. They bury uncle Henri Brissac's body inside the stables. Now a rich woman and mistress of the Brissac mansion, Léa savors her newly found life of plenty. But her continued rejection by New Orleans society, amplified by George's hatred and a longing for Captain Fabian bring her nothing but unhappiness. A hate-filled George devises a plan to eliminate Fabian and hurt Léa at the same time. The plan involves uncle Henri Brissac's dead body buried inside the stables, the local constable, Fabian's gold pocket watch, an angry mob and Fabian's cargo ship filled with contraband gun-powder.