Charlotte Parkhurst, known as Charley, spent most of her life masquerading as a man. Raised in an orphanage where she is the only girl, she is prevented from being adopted by the staff, who put her to work in the kitchen. Her love is to be with the horses and the elderly man who cares for them. Vern’s tales of escaping slavery are the seeds of Charlotte’s own desperate bid for freedom after her only other friend is adopted.
Her knack with horses soon enables the disguised Charley to pursue her dream of driving a stagecoach. She does it so well that she is offered the opportunity to earn a livelihood in the California gold fields. Many trials arise, including the loss of sight in her left eye, but throughout, Charlotte remembers her friends, works hard and persistently, and fulfills her ambitions, culminating in her voting in a presidential election. The full-page, black-and-white pencil drawings are well rendered and enhance the straightforward text.