A baleful British view of the American Revolution via a lively, splay-gaited yarn which runs through murder, executions, couplings and rape at a gallop. Major James Blackford, in His Majesty's Service, hitherto harboring only a mild doubt as to egalitarianism re the American rebellion and Negro slavery, is thrust into the crux of the matter when he spends six weeks on the run, first disguised as a black slave and then as a recruit in the rebel army. His estimate of the new Americans is enlarged by a spell among the ""hidden people"" and an exposure to brutality (a caged, slowly starving Negro; the murder and rape of a girl by two renegades; rumors of cruel discipline in Washington's army, etc.). ""They were as harsh a people as any."" Once again with his British forces, alter a spell with the rebels, Blackford is outwitted by his former mistress and an unpleasant Yankee spy. In a post-Yorktown contemplation, he looks forward to England and ""quiet decency"" and makes some dim forecasts about America's future.