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The book starts out in 1948 in Mercer County, Montana. David’s father, Wesley, was serving his second term as sheriff. His family had an Indian woman, Marie Little Soldier. David had a little crush on her. She stayed with them during the week. She was their maid.

One summer day David heard Marie coughing really badly, so David went and told his mother, Gail. She looked at Marie and found that she had a fever, that her coughing was getting worse, and she could hardly talk. Gail suggested that she should see a doctor, but Marie sternly refused to see one. Gail didn’t care, she went and asked Uncle Frank, Wesley’s brother, to come and look at Marie. The next day Frank came to check on Marie. Marie wants Gail to be in the room while Frank is looking at her. After he gets done examining Marie, Marie tells Gail some shocking news. After Frank leaves, Gail tells Wesley that his brother has sexually molested Indians when he examines them. He puts things in them that shouldn’t be there and does other horrible things to them.