Tomboy Paulie is the quintessential middle child in a family just managing to make ends meet, which is the reason they can't afford to buy a horse for her or even pay for riding lessons. So Paulie gamely volunteers at a local stable and in return gets to ride her favorite horse, Duke. But one day when Paulie goes to the stable after school, she finds that it is to be closed down and all the horses sent elsewhere or sold. Duke is slated to be sold -- but not to another owner; he is to be sold at auction, probably to a butcher. Paulie has a week to try to save Duke. This is the story of how she tries to rescue Duke without her family's knowing. She comes surprisingly close to pulling it off when her family discovers her secret. Will Duke go to the butcher after all? Jocelyn Reekie tells Paulie's story realistically and unsentimentally, illustrating the girl's spirit and independence as she struggles to do what she knows is right.