The second installment in Laxalt's Basque-family trilogy, this novel takes an adult-aged Pete to the Basque Country to uncover his parents' secret reasons for immigrating to the U.S. Pete finds himself stepping back into a medieval morality, into the rigid and unrelenting code of his ancestors, older and stronger than reason. Denied by his own blood kin, cold anger forges his determination to pierce the silence of the villagers and learn the circumstances of Maitia's, his mother's, birth. One by one, the ghosts rise up, piecing together the story of Maitia's shame and her resolve to gain the respect that could only be found in America. Interwoven is the story of Petya, Pete's father, forced to flee the high Pyrenees by accident and find a new life as a lonely sheepherder in the northern deserts of Nevada. His struggles with loneliness and the temptations of emerging manhood provide a background for the stark reality of a young immigrant whose pain and growing sense of self-determination transform him into the essential being we know as American.