A convivial period tale of adventure, love, and marriage, featuring a spunky gun-toting heroine and the brave-hearted soldier she comes to love. ""These is"" the late-19th-century words of Sarah Prine (whose grammar will improve considerably by the close of the yarn) as she tells the story of her family's trek from their Oregon home to Arizona--a journey that takes a terrible toll, including the death of Papa from a wound in a Comanche attack, a brother's loss of a leg, and the killing of friends who are traveling in the same wagon train. There'll also come the death of a small brother from snakebite, Mama's temporary weakness of mind, and Sarah's own first killing when she rescues young friends from rape. Leading the trek is aloof and hateful Captain Jack Elliot of the Regular Army, with whom Sarah struck a bargain--trading surplus horses for books. Sarah then marries horseman Jimmy Reed and settles down outside Tucson to raise horses. Mama and more family are nearby for the birth of daughter April, but the marriage is not meant to be. Jimmy, actually a deceiver, is accidentally killed at about the time that Sarah rescues none other than Captain Jack himself from death. The courtship of Sarah by Jack is long and quirky, conducted in between Army assignments, but a marriage does ensue, and it's a supremely happy one: Sarah gives birth to three and weathers Jack's many departures for the Army. He's heroic but needy, and an adoring lover; Sarah's heroic not only in spirit but with weaponry. Eventually, she even gets an education. After all the familial triumphs and tragedies, Jack must leave for the last time--in a super weeper of a death scene. A lushly satisfying romance, period-authentic, with true-grit pioneering.