Continuing the homey, gently involving story of Lucy Richards (The Train to Estelline, 1987; A Place Called Sweet Shrub, 1990). Lucy, now wife of a school principal and mother of a four-year-old, is again teaching in rural West Texas. It's the 1931 Depression, and Lucy survives the best and very tragic worst of Hard Times. She adores husband, Josh Arnold, a kind and buoyant principal/farmer, and little son John Patrick. Also the prospect of teaching, like the ``vast country'' itself, is ``filled with possibilities.'' Together, Lucy and Josh deal with the challenges they face as newcomers in establishing a successful school in a hard-working but struggling community; handling violent kids ``bred to showdowns''; the parade of itinerant down-and-outers needing hand-outs; and, along with everyone else, coping with bankruptcies and the casualties of the drought. But soon the Arnolds will be a welcome part of the community--with new friends and quilting and dances- -until a tragedy ends a life and possibly a marriage. At the close, a tornado brings both death and new life. Simple, sweet, and appealing with home-folk verities.