More than anything in the world, thirteen-year-old Caleb wants a hounddog. One spring, Caleb's father gives him the runt of a litter of pigs, and Caleb takes the pig to the local stock auction to trade for a hounddog puppy. Fast-talking Billy Flint is the only dog trader, and ignores Caleb and his pig through most of the auction. Caleb objects to the trader's mistreatment of an old, ragged part-Airedale mutt with a lame leg and quickly finds that he has traded his runt pig for the old dog. Caleb knows he has been "skinned alive" by the sharp trader, but from the minute the dog follows him to the wagon and jumps easily into the seat, Caleb knows that he wants this old dog more than any of the excellent hounddogs he has seen. He must first convince his mother to let him keep the dog, but Outcast wins a place in the family and he and Caleb become inseparable friends.