Set in Oregon in 1939, this starts with serf-reliant Tom Fox, 17 but already through high school, having to make the choice between moving on with his logger father and new stepmother or stopping along their route with the herd of goats he'd started four years earlier when his dying mother needed the milk. Tom's decision is easy and soon he is grazing his goats on the property of a pretty 16-year-old girl who is trying to keep her parents' recent death a secret to avoid being sent to a foster home. For her own good Tom turns Gall in (her friends smoke and drink, she's about to be cheated in a business deal, and the makeup she wears makes her look cheap) and they're both glad in the end when the matron allows her to stay on, as he will. For Tom also makes friends, and a good business deal, with a local farmer who till then had been violently antigoat; and--after several insults and bum deals and one wild shotgun chase--he wins the job of the drunken cheesemaker who'd been letting the local goat-cheese factory go to pot. With such a straight, square-jawed hero, it's all as clean and wholesome as the milk that Tom handles so impeccably.