Thirteen year old Jo Harper's trip to attend the reading of her mysterious uncle's will isn't welcome news to everybody in Willowby, Wyoming, and with the notorious Casper Brothers on the loose, the spring of 1911 isn't the best time to steam across the wide open west.
But with great expectations and grim determination, Jo hurtles into adventure, learning along the way who her friends are, and who wants her out of the way for good.
Blossoming danger! Dark captivity! And wildflowers galore!
Jo's face flushed hot. She was the poor country hick without a ticket.
"I said, is there a problem?" said the conductor with a gruff voice.
"I'm afraid I've lost my ticket," said Jo.
"Lost? Or never had one to begin with?"
"No, I had it when I got aboard."
"I doubt that very much."
"Where's the other conductor? He knows. He saw it. When I told him I was going to Kansas City."
"Other conductor? What are you talking about? I'm the conductor on this train. There is no other!"
What was going on here? Jo's mind was awhirl. There had been another conductor. Jo was sure of it.
Now, this conductor reached down and pulled her up by her shirt collar. "Pick up your hat and satchel," he said. "No ticket, no passage."
"Wait!" said Jo.
"I'm sorry, kid," said the man, now clamping a meaty hand on Jo's arm. "Off the train."
Off the train?
"But I've got to go to Kansas City," said Jo. "My aunt is waiting for me."
"Don't tell me no sob stories. Let's go."
Easily twice Jo's size and weight, it was easy for the conductor to push her down the aisle toward the back door. When they got there, he pulled open the exit, and a wall of wind hit them both.
The train clickety-clacked along the tracks and a new fear rushed into Jo's head.
The man was going to throw her off the train, all right. While it was still moving!