Wade Shiveley, suspected of robbery and murder, though he declares himself innocent. He is hated by his father because he has previously killed his own brother in a fight over an Indian woman. Later he is framed by his relative, Clay Calvert, and hanged by a posse for another murder he did not commit. After his death, he is proved innocent of the murder and robbery for which he was originally jailed.
Uncle Press Shiveley
Uncle Press Shiveley, Wade’s father. He sends his son, whom he hates and has vowed to kill, a gun loaded with blank cartridges; he hopes Wade will be killed while trying to break out of jail.
Clay Calvert, who is either Wade’s son or Wade’s brother’s son; nobody ever knows which. He hates Wade but believes him innocent. Sought by the authorities as an accomplice in Wade’s escape from jail, he becomes a migratory worker and takes up with a horse trader’s daughter. He drifts about Oregon, always seeking and never finding a place where he and his woman can make a real home.
The Horse Trader
The Horse Trader, a wanderer who ekes out a living trading horses and having his family pick hops in season. He is a weak man who loses most of the family’s money by gambling. He dies of natural causes. He is suspected by Clay of having committed the crimes for which Wade is blamed.
Luce, the horse trader’s daughter. She takes up with Clay and lives with him. She claims to have shot the man whose murder is blamed on Wade, but her lover believes she is only trying to shield her father, even after his death. She never completely trusts Clay because she is afraid that he may leave her.
Clark Burdon, leader of a band of settlers in eastern Oregon. He befriends Clay.