Twelve-year-old Tom Parks and his father John are crossing some nameless but frigid mountains when John is killed by a fall into a stream. So heartbroken Tom holes up in a cave, trying to attract passersby with fires (his burro has been killed by a mountain lion and his gear is too heavy to tote). He spends two weeks helping a trapped mother-grizzly and her two cubs; he catches and feeds them fish while chipping away at a big boulder. When finally released, they accept him and are his only friends for the next four years: when they hibernate, he has lonely winters. But this Crusoe idyll ends when a badman shows up, kills the mother and one cub, and is himself killed by Tom--who, while scouting nearly 100 miles from his cave, comes upon the first settlement he's seen in all this time (for human talk he reads his two books, the Bible and Morte d'Arthur). Thus begins Tom's career as a thief: he steals an untamable mustang which is about to be shot, names it Peter, and now has (with bear ""Jerry"") two friends; he steals supplies and leaves pelts behind as payment. And soon a posse is out looking for this strange ""Indian"" outlaw--which leads to a romance between Tom and the posse leader's daughter Gloria. Eventually, then, Tom will clear himself of a murder charge, win over Gloria's father, and be sent East to earn enough money to become worthy of his bride-to-be. Implausible stuff--but Brand's smooth, hard style makes this Thirties pulp-original a fairly engaging hardcover curiosity for wilderness/survival devotees.