Oregon in the 1870's backs up the story of Jace, an orphan, who runs away from a mean-mouthed uncle who claims his mother made a sissy of him. A sissy he is not; he hides out on an island; and in these first weeks of the story he plants a garden, builds a cabin, reads Walden. He also pans and sluices for gold to get a hundred dollars for an education, and the whole first half of the book, with its improvisation and ingenuity, is interesting. There follows some more improbable sequences: the attack of a predatory creature; his friendship with Ni-ka, chief of an ndigenous(?) Injun tribe about to be deposed; their flight together, Ni-ka's return to his people to be reinstated, and Jace's stalwart attempt to settle his score with his uncle. All of this is in the interests of keeping the story busy, rather than altogether believable.