A story of California during the Mexican War centers around the fortunes of young Ben Adams, a Boston boy, who comes to Monterey on a whaler, and emphasizes the political role of Thomas Larkin, consul, at whose house Ben stays to recover from scurvy. The two story threads- Ben's adventures and the course of conflict- are interwoven as Ben and his friend Pablo who is half Irish, become Larkin's couriers and have their part in the events that brought California into the union. Larkin's role as hopeful mediator is made clear. But disappointingly cloudy in the background are the Fremont controversy, the squabble of command between Kearny and Stockton, and the feelings of the Californios. They are treated as inevitable blocks in the path of manifest destiny and ""explained away"" as such rather than as important historical elements. And to end the story, Ben hears that his parents are coming to the land he now loves.