Kansas ingenuity and determination meets Spanish grace and benevolence in this story of Old California in the years just before the Gold Rush of 1849. The wagon which has carried sixteen-year-old Lank and his younger sister Tess across the plains, mountains and desert, through sickness, misery and near death, falls to pieces on the edge of La Hacienda de las Flores de Oro—The Ranch of Golden Flowers. Taken in by the generous de Soto family, and befriended by the Munita and her brother Ernesto, the recently orphaned young people desire to find a way to repay their kind hosts. Both captivated by the gracious culture of Spanish colonial life and alarmed by its open-handed and, to Lank and Tess, outright improvident ways, the two set to work with a will. How they succeed in helping to prepare the de Sotos for the great changes ahead is engagingly played out against the colorful background of Old Californian life at its height.