An interlude in young Sam Dawes' new Army career wakens him to Indian lore and love, tempts him to desert and returns him to his Fort, confirmed and conditioned to a deeper maturity. He is Gabe Mathews' companion on a hunting trip, manages a kind of deadpan sophistication when they are joined by two Indian girls, and soon learns to lie with and admire Bell, who is softened and won by his kindness. There are encounters with renegade Indians, with a search for a thief, with a calloused old ""mountain man"" who dwells on the opportunities for ""sojers"" who make the wilderness their home, and Gabe's girl, Wing works her wiles to get them to take her far north, to safety. They witness the massacre of a little band of Indians, who are peacefully trying to find better lands, by their fellow redskins; Bell is killed too and Wing lights out with the mountain man and their equipment, leaving them to make a virtue of necessity and head for the Fort... The military life and the Dakota country of the 1850's are in contrast for the conflict and the growth of a young Eastern boy and have the author's absorption in the period and the area as their conge. A first novel of contagious sincerity.