During the time of the California Gold Rush, Rosabel and Sophie become best friends because they are both outsiders. Rosabel is African American and Sophie is Jewish. Rosabel has freedom papers, but her mother, Miz Violet, is a runaway slave. They have escaped to California, where slavery is against the law. But the Fugitive Slave Act allows runaway slaves to be captured and returned to their owners. When a slave catcher shows up and takes Miz Violet away, it is up to Rosabel and Sophie to put their clever minds together and come up with a way to free Miz Violet once and for all.