Frustrated by the rules restricting her from horses and the domestic labor she is expected to perform at a nineteenth-century New Hampshire orphanage, Charlotte Parkhurst aspires to run away from controlling authority figures. Her talent with horses provides her a means to escape and seek freedom and adventure. Although she makes friends, Parkhurst relies on herself to survive injury and overcome obstacles when she moves west to California. Because females at that time had few legal rights, Charlotte disguises herself as a boy named Charley to pursue her goals of buying land and establishing a successful business. As a result of her charade as a man, she became the first woman whom historians believe voted in a national election.