Hawley Cooper is alone. No food. No weapons. Middle of winter in the Rocky Mountains. Left to die by a crusty old mountain man named Josiah Weeks, an odious man whom Cooper had thought so long ago was his benefactor. Now Weeks has knocked Cooper unconscious and rode off, taking everything Cooper had. Just six months ago, Cooper was a youth on the edge of manhood, one looking for adventure. Now he wonders if he will live long enough become a man. But he'd be damned if he would give up. If he was going to die, he would rather it came while he was trying to do something rather than just sitting and waiting for the end. With a few items he had hidden-a bit of pemmican, a few strips of jerky, two shards of flint, and his penknife-he heads off into the teeth of winter. And into the unknown. He struggles on, day after day, barely managing to survive in the bitter cold and deep snow, battered by the roaring wind. And when he goes down under the weight of an attack by a pack of wolves, he figures his time has come. Until he awakes in a Shoshone lodge. Nursed back to health, it is time for him to become a man, and keep the vow he had made while fighting for survival-kill Josiah Weeks.