... is extremely young, fifteen to be exact, when circumstances put him in charge of a ship bound from Baltimore to Nice with a cargo of wheat. Events leading up to this are Joshua Barney's apprenticeship on Chesapeake Bay pilot boats and a bad time as second mate to an overbearing brother-in-law, Drysdale. It is when Drysdale dies at sea that Joshua becomes captain of the ship and with the support of the men under him decides to continue on their way to the Mediterranean. There is a pleasant sojourn in Gibraltar, a spot of trouble with Moors, etc., before Joshua returns- to the prospect of war but jubilant with success. We have heard of young captains before and were convinced by the serious tone of Joshua's early adventures. It was only after some pages that the quietly grandiose descriptions of Joshua, a Walter Mitty in embryo, dashed our credulity against the rocks.