As her cousin Duke - the bully of Blue Wing, Minnesota - dangles her precariously from a steel bridge 20 feet above the flood-swollen Mississippi, Claire doesn't expect to softly land on a passing boat or to see Duke floundering in the river. And yet as these unlikely events - and more - suddenly begin to happen, some in the sleepy river town don't seem at all surprised. But when a rhino's horn suddenly sprouts from Duke's face and his parents turn to stone, 12-year-old Claire decides to take action.
Zebulon Crabtree was warned the hard way back in 1849 when his mother and father shipped him off to St. Louis to apprentice with a tanner. Too bad he had serious allergies to fur and advice from his parents. Hearing the beat of a different drummer, Zeb takes up with a riverboat gambler who has some special plans for him, crosses paths with a slave who turns out to be a better friend than cook, and learns that some Indian medicine men can see even though blind.