The adventures of 12-year-old Charlie Prescott rather than Huckleberry Finn--in a ""sequel"" novel by White (Sword of the North, 1983) that's written with the innocent tone of YA literature from a half-century ago, when role models dispensed wisdom and championed ideals. Charlie, occasionally mischievous, runs off the Wind River, Wyoming, schoolteacher when he and one of the local ruffians tie a calf to the hell rope at school. Huck Finn, now a quick-drawing sheriff, reports the incident to Charlie's father, the local newspaper editor, who is eternally vigilant in the fight against injustice. ""Cruelty is an abominable trait,"" says the upright father. ""I would rather see my son a drunkard or a cardsharp than live to see him grow up cruel."" Finn ordinarily thrills Charlie with tales of his past--which includes stints as cowboy, buffalo hunter, US marshal, and trapper--but he's responsible now. The departed teacher is replaced by mostly responsible Josiah Grey, a black, Harvard-educated Pinkerton detective operating undercover to investigate a gang robbing gold shipments in the area. The Prescotts' maid predicts dire trouble when Mr. Grey signs on, and it soon follows from various sources, including the banker, whose daughter finds that her attraction to Mr. Grey is mutual. Along the way, however, Mr. Grey teaches in school as well as out, offering boxing lessons so that Charlie can protect himself from a bully and explaining the comprehensive nature of friendship. When the narrator is kidnapped by some rabid rednecks, Mr. Grey comes to the rescue. Writing primarily in dialogue, White gives us a coming-of-age story that is good-hearted from beginning to end.