Increasingly regarded as a major 20th-century writer, Willa Cather celebrated American pioneers and the land they worked. Her strong female characters and the elegiac quality of her writing have combined to earn her high standing with critics and the public alike. According to Maxwell Geismar, she was "an aristocrat in an equalitarian order, an agrarian writer in an industrial order, a defender of the spiritual graces in the midst of an increasingly materialistic culture. Her talents are amply displayed in this collection, which features the touching title story about a young boy locally regarded as a delinquent and social misfit, and "A Wagner Matinée" (both revised by Cather for publication in Youth and the Bright Medusa, 1920); as well as "Lou, the Prophet" (1892), a haunting tale of failure, spiritual rebirth and legendary fame; "Eric Hermannson's Soul" (1900), an intriguing account of a man who, after years of dissolute living, is lured into the fold of a fanatical sect; and "The Enchanted Bluff" (1909), bittersweet recollections of life in a pioneer river town. Presented in this attractive, inexpensive edition, these timeless tales offer a provocative glimpse into the work of Willa Cather.