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In the very southeast corner of Arizona in the spring of 1910, eleven-year-old Ruth Applegate watches with tear-blurred eyes as Joe Jinks, her only friend, rides away from the Applegate Ranch on Bullfrog, his cow pony. Ruth is an orphan, a ward of the Arizona Territorial Court, and Joe had been the one person willing to stand between the little girl and her vengeful aunt, but now he must leave and the aunt is thrilled. Ruth Applegate was born into a large, loving family, but at age four her family was destroyed, and in a heartbeat her world cascaded downward into hopelessness. When Joe left the ranch, Ruth still did not understand . . . until her aunt displayed a photo, saying that Ruth's mother had been an Indian woman-a half-breed squaw, and a stained curtain of secrecy began to slowly part, revealing twisted, corrosive hatred.