Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, former printer, is, in 1870, an old man, in his seventies. Having lost his business in the economic collapse of the Confederate states after the war, he's making his living as an itinerant news reader. Kidd travels the state of Texas, going from small town to small town, reading selections of national and international news to listeners who pay ten cents a person to listen. It's a form of entertainment as well as a way to get the news.
After one of these readings, he's asked to take a young girl, captured and raised by Kiowa Indians, back to her relatives The problem is that the girl, now ten years old, was six when her family was murdered and she was taken, and she seemingly remembers nothing of her life before that trauma.