Peter Barlow, aged 15, stows away on a ship in 1840 bound from Boston to Yucatan in search of his Mayan mother, mysteriously estranged from him since the loss of his American father. In the course of his rather pallid adventures he just misses her in three different towns and takes a job as aide to some American archeologists. When they reach their destination, Chichen Itza, Peter finds an ancient Mayan amulet, which he is allowed to keep, and his mother, in a thoroughly contrived recognition scene. There is hardly any attempt at characterization. The dialogue, at its worst, is banal in content and American colloquial in tone; at its best, this is a vehicle for information about Mayan civilization, 19th Century Mexico, archaeology, rare birds, and the behavior characteristics of mules. The author's purpose seems to be a purely didactic one, and, if so, a straight information book about Mexico would have been more in order. Seen without Frederick Catherwood's engravings.