Lucy Commander tells her story here with that odd, stately eloquence that marks her as a Cleaver heroine--though her speech, especially at first, has a prim and haughty cast as well, reflecting her more genteel background. Lucy's father dies as this opens, and only Lucy and the servant couple know that money-lender Tom Clegg, once sweet on Mama, had a hand in his ""accidental"" death. As Mama still spurns Clegg, who somehow holds deeds to the family house and car, the Commanders are turned out and Lucy, set on revenge, strikes up with an uneducated former peddler--who, in return for lessons, a bunk, and some acreage, will turn to enthusiastically and help make a farm of some old, seemingly worthless, family property. But we haven't seen the end of arch-villain Clegg, whose hiring of two mean desperados to kidnap Lucy and her older, less spirited brother gives Lucy plenty of opportunity to demonstrate the Cleaver-heroine grit and bravura. Finally, in a typically Cleaver moment of truth, she determines (pistol in hand, Clegg in its sights) not to shoot Clegg after all--""to let evil be its own slave."" Personalizing the Cleaver formula this time round are some well-drawn supporting characters--especially ex-peddler Ryder, whose abiding affection for Lucy doesn't preclude a lot of sharp-tongued exchanges.