Denver and the Colorado mining towns of the 1890's are keyed into the life of Melissa, impetuously married to Lory Owen and, learning his worthlessness, finding her love in Duncan Howrey, a preacher ""without purse or scrip"". Lory's presumed death in a mine explosion, her pregnancy and the need to shield Lory's and the child's name from a possibility of a murder charge, drive her away from Duncan's efforts to help, from the stigma of being a ""Deserving Object"". But with marriage to Duncan she learns not only the cruel demands on a reverend's wife but the righteous bullheadedness and the need to suffer to enjoy that takes Duncan from Ouray to Creede where his doctoring assures him a status not won by his preaching. The rewards of a church in Denver are balanced by the help needed in the '93 panic, and reach a personal level when Lory returns for blackmail levied against a bigamous marriage. Melissa finds that Duncan need not be protected by her small efforts and that fate -- in the person of Lory's present conquest -- removes her problems so that a move from comfort to Cripple Creek is fair payment. A woman's readership is recognizable here -- which has been assured by the earlier The Golden Fury and others by this author -- augmented by the minister-and-wife theme.