During a savage Mahdi attack on Barash under Victorian British rule, Richard Baker (Anthony Quayle) rescues an English governess, her charge and a callow subaltern. Baker hopes to escape by river to Khartoum but the wreckage of their boat and a narrow escape from slave traders force the party overland. Attempts by Murchison (Derek Fowlds) to take command and the disapproval of Miss Woodville (Sylvia Syms) dwindle in face of Baker's courage and resourcefulness. Finally captured by natives, themselves in danger from the Mahdi forces, they engineer their escape through tribal dissension. Murchison's knowledge of the nearby British garrison which is under attack, enables them to blow up the arsenal and save the day. Murchison is commended for bravery and Baker arrested for desertion but it is Baker who wins the lady.