Just before warmhearted tomboy Tildy and her family—Mr. and Mrs. Gale, two older brothers and two older sisters and young Tommy—leave their home in Ohio for a tiny new settlement in the wilds of Wisconsin, Grandma says: “Lots of times, Tildy, things won’t seem very cheerful—they’ll seem pretty hard. Settlers in a new district have to learn to take things as they come and make the best of them. Lots of times you have to pretend you’re not scared when your knees will just hardly hold you up. Plenty of times you have to figure fast to find any way to turn. It’s your chore, Tildy, to keep folks out of the dumps—keep things kind of lively. You’re good at that.” Sad to be leaving her grandmother, it is a difficult responsibility for Tildy to undertake on her own, but she promises to do her best. That promise is pushed to the limit as the journey by wagon and oxcart unfolds—fire, quicksand pits, and marauding Indians. Finally, reaching the level valley where a log cabin home awaits them, the Gales plunge into all the duties of pioneer life—only to find that their trials are not over. At first, they are intrigued by the friendly Indians and the lonely French girl, Twanet, who lives with her mad uncle across the river, but when a hostile Indian tribe comes foraging for captives and food, and the mad Frenchman turns out to be in competition with Mr. Gale for the coveted mill site, exciting events happen thick and fast—with Tildy caught square in the middle.
Original Book: 212 pages