Tod and Buz's latest gig has them helping to fell timber at an Oregon loggery. Local regulations call for the day's work to be halted whenever the air humidity drops below a certain level, in order to prevent the risk of fire. As the siren to cease activities for the day blares out across the logging camp, Tod is startled to see a young woman who has just arrived by bus run and hide beneath the shelter of the nearest bridge, believing it to be an air raid siren.
The young woman is Lucia Trapani, who has just made a long journey from her native Sicily on an important mission. Seventeen years previously, during the second World War, Lucia knew an American soldier named Alec Haines. Alec comforted the young child after her parents were killed in the war, before he himself was killed by German soldiers. Alec was a bit of a teller of tall tales, and to help bolster the little girl's spirits he told her that he owned the state of Oregon. He bequeathed it to her, complete with a deed he wrote up. Now a grown woman, the naive Lucia still believes in Alec's story, and she has come to America to claim her inheritance. Her church back home in Sicily needs a statue of a new Madonna, and Lucia plans to sell her interest in the state to raise the eight thousand dollars necessary for the purchase.
Tod and Buz, with trepidation, take the girl to see the hard-nosed foreman Morrison, who grew up with Alec. Morrison tells them that Nathaniel Hobbs, the foster father of Alec and himself, has existed as an embittered recluse ever since the death of Alec. He lives in an isolated cabin in a vast stretch of timberland, and has contact with almost no one, save Morrison. Morrison knows that Hobbs is unlikely to see Lucia, especially considering the man's dislike of Italians which stems from the war years. But the normally hard-bitten foreman is touched by the girl's story. Morrison knows that Alec owned nothing, but is unable to bring himself to smash the pert young girl's dream, feeling beholden to her on behalf of his late foster brother.
Morrison and Lucia, with Tod and Buz, attempt to pay a visit to Hobbs. Morrison's plan is to convince Hobbs to give up a portion of his vast acreage, and to have that be Lucia's "inheritance". However, despite Morrison's entreaties, the older man refuses to see Lucia. When the group return to town, Morrison puts the hopelessly plucky Lucia, who is carrying just twelve dollars on her person, up at a local boarding house under the pretense that it was a part of Alec's ownings.
Buz determines to pay Hobbs another visit, convinced that a face to face meeting with the innocent young girl will win the old man over. Tod, Buz and Lucia return to the cabin, and are surprised by a shotgun-toting Hobbs, who demands that they leave. But when the girl tells him the story of her experiences with Alec in his last hours, the old man's eyes fill with tears. Nonetheless, after Lucia finishes her narration, Hobbs explodes in anger and drives the group from his cabin.
It finally devolves upon Buz to break the news to Lucia that Alec's legacy to her wasn't worth the paper it was written on. The embarrassed and shamed young girl begins to reconsider her motives for coming to America, admitting to herself that her desire to buy the statue for her church was driven more by materialistic than by spiritual urgings.
Meanwhile, Hobbs, now smarting from the pain of the old festering wounds that Lucia's visit has re-opened, comes into town in a rage. He looks for a fight with Tod and Buz, blaming them for this fresh reminder of his grief. Tearing apart the local bar in his rampage, Hobbs succeeds in knocking Buz out, prompting Tod to observe that there is a first time for everything. When Morrison comes on the scene to attempt to calm him down, Hobbs tells him that they have permission to cut down the trees on his property to provide Lucia's stake, as long as the girl gets out of town and he never has to see her again.
The next day is to be Lucia's final one in town, and the mill's lumber cutters have just that day to cut down enough trees to raise Lucia's money. Everyone pitches into the act. Morrison even leaves his desk job for the day to assist in the efforts.
Lucia humbly visits Hobbs at his cabin one more time to apologize for the pain her appearance has caused him. She says she has finally come to realize that Alec's gift for her was not meant to be tangible, and she does not want to profit from it or to cause Hobbs any further annoyance. Therefore, she tells Hobbs to order the cutting down of the trees stopped. Instead, the old man reacts to the girl's heartfelt sentiments by taking up his own ax and heading out to join the assault on his property's trees.
But the men are racing against time, as the humidity level drops lower and lower to the mandatory point of work stoppage. As the barometer hits the clearly marked line, the ranger judiciously takes his time about ordering the siren blown until the truck containing Lucia's lumber is safely on the freeway.
Tod, Buz, and the other members of the lumber camp are at the bus departure the following morning to wish Lucia a rousing bon voyage on her return trip to Sicily. The young woman is leaving Oregon much richer - both materially and in wisdom - than when she came in.
Share this article with your friends