A sensitive novel and a deserving winner of the Seventeenth Summer Literary Competition creates suspense and builds character as it remakes the world of pioneer day Wisconsin and the fates that governed the Cormier family. As the story opens, Nancy and Andre, the mother and father, are on a visit to nearby Milwaukee. At home are Jean, the oldest and Andre's half Indian son from a former marriage; Diane, adopted and the orphaned daughter of friends who died; Emile, serious yet chafing under his reputation as a bad hunter; and three younger children. Both Jean and Diane are in their late teens and ready to bear the responsibilities of adulthood. When the boys rescue a young stranger knocked unconscious in the winter snows near their cabin, they are variously affected by the story Nathan Jeffers has to tell when he wakes. Admittedly at odds with his lawyer father, the rather charming Nathan's story is that he is looking for the inheritor of a Pennsylvania land trust but that an Indian had stolen the proving papers from him. Then as Nathan recovers, Jean's distrust deepens as does Diane's infatuation with the newcomer. The antipathy tears the young people apart until a crisis proves Nathan a crook and Diane the inheritor of enough money to send Emile to Harvard- and of enough emotional stability to go to Jean of her own free will. Good.