The story of Jean LaBarge and his northwestward trek in quest of gold and adventure is the basis of this novel. Leaving his home in the Great Swamp near the Susquehanna, LaBarge joins the ranks of fur-trappers and goes to San Francisco where he involves himself with operators, of noble Russian birth. Intrigue gets underway very quickly when he aligns himself with Count Rotcheff and his lovely royal wife to deliver wheat to the city of Sitka in Alaska, an ostensibly forbidden game. Count Zinnovy, aware that Rotcheff has been an instigator, retaliates by wounding him, thus preventing his return to St. Petersburg. At the behest of Count Rotcheff, LaBarge accompanies the beautiful Helena Rotcheff, a niece of the Czar, over icy waters and safely home. He falls in love with her, of course, but she, still married, is inaccessible. As a reward for this trip he is given an audience with the Czar to discuss the possibility of annexing Alaska to the United States. When he returns to Sitka, he is arraigned by his arch-enemy, Baron Zinnovy, but unsuccessfully so. At the crucial moment when LaBarge is to be adjudged guilty by the Russian court, a pronunciamento is delivered that Alaska is a territory of the United States and the Czar has issued a decree all prisoners and potential prisoners in Sitka were to be released as a celebration of this transaction! LaBarge is free and free also to marry Helena (since her husband has died in the interim). All ends well, but by this time the reader is rather exhausted and somewhat bored with the whole procedure.