Volume 1 The story starts with William Fletcher, a young man who is in love with a distant relative, Alice. Her father has forbidden her marriage to Fletcher on account of religious difference. After he thwarts Alice's attempt to run away with Fletcher to North America, Alice's father forces her to marry Charles Leslie instead. In despair, Fletcher decides to leave England and relocate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the Bay colony, Fletcher marries an orphan girl named Martha although he is still in love with Alice. He founds a household several miles out of town, and has children; Everell, and two others. He receives word that Charles and Alice Leslie have both died, and that their children, which will be renamed Faith and Hope, will be coming to live with the Fletchers.
To address the increase in household work that the new children will bring, they family is supplied with two young Native Americans as servants. They are Magawisca and Oneco, the children of one of the Pequod chiefs, Mononotto. They have been displaced due to the Pequod War of the previous war, in which the Pequod settlement was attacked and burned by the white settlers. Most of the household is suspicious of Magawisca, especially since she occasionally talks to Nelema, an old native woman living nearby. Everell, however, always maintains that she is trustworthy and only has the family's best interests at heart.
Everell maintains his Faith in Magawisca when he and Digby, the faithful family servant, are keeping watch at night; they see Magawisca slip out of her bedroom and go to speak with Nelema. At this point, William Fletcher has gone to the coast to conduct business; he has sent Faith Leslie to live with the family, but has kept Hope Leslie with him because she reminds him of his former love Alice. Magawisca is conflicted, unsure whether she ought to tell Everell that her father is preparing a surprise raid on the household to reclaim his children; she feels a strong love for the family which has treated her with kindness, but ultimately says nothing as she is unwilling to betray her father. Digby goes away on an errand that Mrs. Fletcher insists on, and so Everell is left to defend the house in the event of an attack.
The Native Americans do attack, and Everell is able to wound one, but unable to stop the ensuing bloodbath. Mrs. Fletcher and the young children are killed, and Mononotto captures Everell and Hope Leslie, and reclaims his children Magawisca and Oneco.
Mr. Fletcher returns with Hope Leslie to his home later from the coast several hours after the fight only to find his entire family dead or missing; he mourns privately for a few days, and then begins to act normally.
Meanwhile, the Native American group are attempting to reach their allies before they are caught by the settlers in pursuit. There are several close calls, but they eventually escape and reach the settlement. Magawisca attempts to help Everell escape, since she does not agree with her father's capture of the two white children, but she is unable to do so.
The natives prepare Everell for sacrifice; Mononotto is thrilled at the brave spirit with which he fought the invasion at the Fletcher home, and believes that he is a fitting sacrifice to avenge the death of his own son in the Pequod War, who was interrogated by white settlers before being killed in cold blood. Magawisca attempts to aid him, but is sent to an old woman's domicile and kept there by a stationed guard as the night wears on and the time for the sacrifice draws nigh. She is able to put the guard to sleep using an herbal sleeping tea that the old woman has in her hut, and escapes to help Everell. Everell, meanwhile, has been encircled by natives at a large rock. A moonbeam strikes his face; the natives interpret this as a sign that the sacrifice has been accepted and exult in the moment. Everell is resigned to his fate and bows his head to be killed. As the final blow is about to be struck, Magawisca leaps from the large rock which she has secretly scaled into the path of the blade. Mononotto, instead of killing Everell, cuts off his daughter's arm. In the ensuing shock of the natives, Magawisca and Everell embrace, and Everell escapes the circle and flees the encampment.
Jennet calls it witchcraft and Nelema is made to stand trial. Hope frees Nelema from jail and Nelema promises to send her sister Faith to her.
Hope is sent to live with the Winthrops in Boston for a while.
Everyone else agrees to leave the island and Hope goes out to meet her sister on the shore. Hope embraces Faith and tries to talk to her only to realize that Faith no longer speaks English. Magawisca must interpret for them. Hope tries to get her to come home with her, but to no avail. As they are meeting, a trap is sprung upon them by Sir Philip. Magawisca and Faith are taken by English soldiers. Magawisca is imprisoned. Hope is taken captive by Oneco and meets up with Mononotto.
Mononotto is struck by lightning as Oneco is trying to get away. He stops to take care of his father and while he does so, Hope escapes, but then runs into a group of sailors who chase her. Esther has realized that Everell and Hope love each other and she decides to return to England for a few years and remain unmarried. As if to right the original wrong of separating William Fletcher from Alice, their children, Everell Fletcher and Hope Leslie, are finally united.