The great fire referred to in the title is the historic blaze which began in Pudding Lane in the year 1666 and raged through the city of London ravaging everything in sight. Because the fire began on the street where Jeremy worked as a baker's apprentice, the poor boy becomes the scapegoat of the hysterical inhabitants but manages to escape and join forces with Suzannah who is intent on boarding a ship bound for India. Their first job in the galley of a docked vessel is enough to rob them of their sealegs and sets them wandering about the burning city. Jeremy saves one man from the blaze and another from mob violence and in the end is saved himself by the first, who turns out to be a Duke. The attempt to endow this tale with legendary quality is unsuccessful.