The time is the mid-1880s when Florida south of St. Augustine is a virtual wilderness and Daytona, Miami, and Tampa are little more than dots on the maritime charts. Addie is a "beanery queen" who ekes out a living from her canteen at the convergence of two primitive railroads. She is popular with the train crews but is disdained by most of the townspeople because she lives, unmarried, with a war veteran whose mental disorder is considered to be of demonic origin.
Thanks to her prevention of a disastrous train wreck, Addie meets Burke, the owner-operator of the railroad that links the seaside docks at Mayport with St. Augustine. An attraction blossoms but is tantalizingly unfulfilled when social persecution forces Addie to flee into the subtropical wilderness. Burke launches a search for her, not knowing that she has become a pawn in a plot to usurp him of his empire.
Thompson is professor of sociology at Osaka University.