The year is 1904, and Russell is 15. Though he dreams of leaving small-town Indiana to become part of a large farm crew in the Dakotas, he's forced to stay in school, where his sister Tansy has just become the new teacher. Through the autumn, Russell observes the strange goings-on in the classroom, including a fight for Tansy's affection between a rough-and-tumble guy named Glenn and Russell's own best friend, Charlie. (Both will need to compete with a city slicker named Eugene who's in the area trying to sell an amazing new invention called the automobile.) By Thanksgiving, Tansy has become a full-fledged teacher and Russell has resigned himself to the student life. In the last chapter, we learn which man ultimately won Tansy's heart, and also who Russell ended up marrying.