Uncle Fritz (""Mama's sweet baby brother"") is the archetypal German, dead set on law and order; his nephew Quince has the all-American belief in total freedom. It's 1846, the Mexican War is brewing, and the newly arrived Fritz's diatribes against the lawless ""dunderhead"" American army are making him dangerously unpopular. The solution--Quince will accompany him on a trading trip to Santa Fe by covered wagon. Struggle, adjustment, treachery, court martial and battle follow; the two finally return to Missouri part of the rag-tag heroes of the victorious American army. Fritz has unbent a bit, and Quince has decided to read for the law. Narrated by the seventeen-year-old hero with humor, realism, and a consistent midwestern twang--more distinctive Americana from an effective author.