Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 458
Ralph Hartsook, the schoolmaster at Flat Creek, Indiana. He makes a place for himself in the community until his enemies accuse him of being a thief. He escapes a mob and gives himself up to the authorities. He is tried and found innocent. Being a friendly and democratic man, he tries to help everyone. He falls in love with Hannah, a hired girl, and marries her.
Hannah Thomson, the “bound girl” at the Means home. She defeats the schoolmaster in a spelling bee. He falls in love with her and marries her.
Bud Means, one of the older pupils in Ralph’s school. He becomes the schoolmaster’s friend. Chagrined when he is ignored by Martha Hawkins, he falls in with evil companions, but he saves himself and tries to help the schoolmaster.
Martha Hawkins, daughter of the local squire. She is in love with bashful Bud.
Dr. Small, a thief. He is Ralph’s enemy and tries to lay his crime upon the schoolmaster’s head. At Ralph’s trial, he incriminates himself and is later hanged for his misdeeds.
Pete Jones, Dr. Small’s accomplice. He tries to lay the blame for the robbery on Mr. Pearson, an honest man. He and his brother are sent to prison as punishment for their part in the robbery.
Walter Johnson, another of Dr. Small’s accomplices. He is Ralph’s cousin. He turns out to be a religious man who cannot keep his crime hidden. He turns state’s evidence and goes unpunished.
Shocky Thomson, Hannah’s young brother.
Bill Means, Bud’s brother, one of Ralph’s pupils.
Granny Sander, a gossipy woman who spreads evil rumors about Ralph.
Mirandy Means, sister of Bud and Bill. Infatuated with the schoolmaster, she tries to come between Ralph and Hannah.
Mrs. Means, mother of Mirandy, Bud, and Bill. She testifies against Ralph at the robbery trial to spite him for spurning Mirandy.
Mr. Pearson, a basketmaker who took in Shocky when his blind mother went to the poorhouse. He is an honest man wrongly accused of the theft.
Mrs. Matilda White
Mrs. Matilda White, Ralph Hartsook’s aunt. She refuses to take in the unfortunate Mrs. Thomson.
Miss Nancy Sawyer
Miss Nancy Sawyer, Ralph’s hometown friend, who takes in Shocky to prevent his being found out.
Mrs. Thomson, Hannah and Shocky’s mother, a poor but honest widow who is blind and who is finally forced to go to the poorhouse. Later, she is able to make a home for Shocky again through the kindness of Nancy Sawyer.