內容簡介 On the streets of a small windswept town in Hanover, Nebraska, five-year-old Emil Bergson cries because his kitten has been chased up a telegraph pole. His sister Alexandra fetches their friend Carl Linstrum to rescue the cat. Carl happily and handily retrieves the kitten and they send Emil into the general store to warm up. Alexandra tells Carl that their father is dying and she doesn't know what they will do. They fetch Emil, who is playing with a little Bohemian girl, Marie, and Carl drives their cart as far as his homestead. That night John Bergson tells his older children, Alexandra, Lou and Oscar, that he wishes them all to work together to keep the farm and prosper, but he is leaving Alexandra in charge, for she is the oldest and best knows what to do. Six months later, Alexandra, Oscar, Lou and Emil invite Carl to come with them to visit crazy Ivar. They are going to buy a hammock and see his pond. Emil is fascinated by Ivar's pond, which attracts many rare birds, but Alexandra also wants to ask his advice about their pigs. She is worried, because many of the neighbors' are dying, but Oscar and Lou scoff at Ivar's idiosyncratic advice. She ignores them and plans to follow it anyway.