Pa wasn't going to get well! Watching him, Emma Jane was suddenly sure of it. The long trip to Texas from Illinois three years before and the hot dry Texas climate had not made Pa better. And soon Emma Jane knew that Pa knew it too. He knew it and had made a plan. The Burke family was going back to Illinois, back to where they had relatives. More than that, they were going to drive a herd of long-horn steer from Waco clear up to Chicago. The price the cattle would bring there would buy a farm for the family to live on.
So one early spring day the whole family set out with eighty-two head of cattle and Emma Jane as trail boss of the herd. Pa and the whole family were counting on her to bring the animals through. But even Pa, who didn't live through the journey, hadn't counted on all the problems they met. Emma Jane's resourcefulness was tested again and again.
Emma Jane really lived back in the 1850s and she really made this trip. Yet her story is more than history. Emma Jane is every girl who has ever tackled a grown-up job.
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