Thirteen-year-old Bowers Jamison is on a mission to find a stolen gold pocket watch and save his family farm. The watch was a gift to his father for saving the life of his colonel during the American Civil War. The colonel promised it would bring good fortune. “But if the watch falls into the wrong hands,” he warned, “no good will come of it for anybody.”
Indeed, the family’s previously hard scrabble farm prospers until Bowers’ ne’er-do-well uncle, Dan Foley steals the watch and takes off for the Colorado gold rush. Economic collapse and personal tragedy follow. And It’s all Bowers’ fault. He never should have shown the watch to his uncle.
On the way to Colorado, he helps Shady, a ten-year-old orphaned Irish girl, escape the clutches of a Fagan-like crook. The pair make a formidable team. They must negotiate a wild frontier town, elude the pursuing "Fagan," and stymie two Wells Fargo bank robbers who are counting on the watch to help them get away.