Bill Brett's folk tale of life in the Big Thicket takes place in the years around the turn of the century. Brett heard the story from the old man who had lived it. He retells it as a captivating, earthy yarn that won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Western Heritage Award for folklore in 1978, when it first appeared in cloth edition.
The narrator, a young man hurt in an oilfield accident and down on his luck, runs out of money. When the opportunity presents itself, he steals a small herd of steers and a horse and sets out to drive them to a distant market. Suddenly his plans are halted when he comes down with a severe case of malaria. Fortunately he meets a poor but generous black man and woman who nurse him back to health, spending their last dollar to buy his medicine. Like a modern Robin Hood, the young man shares the fruits of his theft with the poor, trading the stolen steers for a small farm he then signs over to his benefactors. They never learn the source of their wealth, which they in turn continue to share with others. In one more effort to repay his friends--and in a final act of revenge for a wrong done to them--he ensures their security while giving up his own.