A short saga of the fortitude and sacrifice of westward expanders in the story of prairie pioneers, the Zithers, Emma and Burl. Emma arives to marry Burl, to live in a sod hut on virgin territory. She bears him two sons; she assumes heroic stature when they almost die of fever and she saves them, when she goes through the perils of a blizzard. Burl's ruthless drive to acquire land and security admit no pleasure to their lives and brings her to an early grave. This is the main part of the book. The rest of the story is Burl's, as in old age he reviews the years, recognizes his too great ambition and sobriety which drove his sons off, and a latter day appreciation of inner values which would have brought him closer to Emma had she lived. Life faithfully reflected, simply, genuinely recaptured, but with little attraction for most readers today.