When we last saw Jo, she was fresh from her triumph as a Pony Express rider who has managed to foil a robbery and collect a reward big enough that she can afford the coach fare to California. This is lucky for her, since it is just when the telegraph is about to make the Express and its riders redundant. So now she and Bart, another young rider, are working in a livery stable in San Francisco. A funny place for a girl, you say? You bet! But Jo has been pretending to be a boy ever since she ran away from the orphanage where her brothers placed her when her mother died in child birth, and so far her body has not betrayed her. Even Bart has no suspicions. Life in San Francisco is pretty boring, however, and Jo yearns to take off for the gold fields with most of the rest of the floating male population of the city, perhaps to make her fortune, and perhaps to find her brothers who had gone that way before her as well. Bart is reluctantly persuaded to come with her, and thus begins their journey by ship up the coast to Fort Victoria, by boat to New Westminster, and then by good old shank's mare from there to their destination. They have the usual mixture of good and bad luck--good luck to be hired by a man to help carry his stuff to the gold fields, bad in that he was a cruel and lazy so-and-so; good that Bart manages to gamble a few pennies into five dollars, bad that the losers were then on his tail; and so on, in a pattern that continues to the final pages when the good luck manages to top the bad. Just.
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