Carole Hansen's father has been sent away on a secret Marine Corps assignment. She worries about him constantly. When a fatal equine illness strikes a neighboring stable, The Saddle Club girls have 45 days to wonder, and worry about, whether the disease will reach Pine Hollow, and whether any of their horses could be in danger. Carole secretly decides to hide one horse from the affected stable and care for it herself.Meanwhile, Lisa Atwood is trying not to let her competitive impulses take over. But a classmate has challenged her for the position of valedictorian. Will Lisa's compulsion to always be the best turn the classroom into a nightmare? And Stevie has found a mysterious place in the woods. Is she on the trail of an Underground Railroad route? Or is she chasing after nothing?