Sara Louise and Call spend the summers of their adolescences progging for crabs. The two of them are "right smart crabbers, and (they) could always come home with a little money as well as plenty of crab for supper". Both Sara Louise and Call have been raised on the water, and they are "a good team". Sara Louise can "pole a skiff quickly and quietly, and nearsighted as he (is) (Call can) spy a crab by just a tip of the claw through grass and muck. He rarely misse(s) one, and he knows (Sara Louise won't) jerk or swerve at the wrong moment".
As a thirteen-year-old, Sara Louise is "tall and large boned, with delusions of beauty and romance". Call, a late bloomer, is fourteen, and he is "pudgy, bespectacled, and totally unsentimental". Their relationship iscomfortable and easy, and, like Call, devoid of sentiment. Neither Sara Louise nor Call have any other friends, and they stick together because each respects the other's skill at crabbing; their teamwork is "so automatic that (Sara Louise) is free to indulge (her) romantic fantasies" while they are working. It doesn't matter to Sara Louise that "this part of (her) nature is wasted" on the literal-minded, humorless Call. The two children have a mutual respect for each other, both as proggers and as people, and, since he associates with no one but her, Sara Louise trusts that Call will not repeat anything she says "to someone who might snicker" (Chapter 1).