A gentle, itinerant story of the Red River country, where folklorist-novelist wens spent his own boyhood, tells of Jed, an orphan from ""out'n the bottoms"" who is taken in and ""bounden"" to help on the farm of Basil and Cannie. But the overnight visit of a peddler, John, renews his desire to be free and to travel to faraway places and John leaves him with a watch and the promise that he can go with him once his obligation to Basil is fulfilled. The watch provokes an unpleasant suspicion-that Jed has stolen it, and Jed- to clear himself with Basil- goes in search of John, only to be caught and shackled on a chain gang. Running away with a young Negro, he faces further charges until John finds him and buys his freedom both from his captor and from Basil... This native's return is accomplished with a lyricist's eye and ear for a natural world of open sky and canebrake and cotton fields. Its touch is true- although its general appeal seems less assured.