Steelman poses as a geologist, with Smith as his offsider. They are offered accommodation in a railway camp and stay for several days, but decide to move on when they discover they are not the only tricksters in the camp.
The story of Sarah Moses, a brooding sixteen-year-old Maori girl called 'August' by her new school teacher, and a man with literary ambitions who thinks he may be able to construct a romance from her story. One day August turns up on his doorstep, claiming her family have thrown her out. The teacher and his wife take her in and all goes well at first, but gradually they realise August's real intentions.