As in the author's other Spy books (A Spy in Old Detroit, A Spy in Old New Orleans) the focus is upon the emotions of people trying to settle upon their loyalties rather than the direct conflict. The hero of this story is 14-year-old Jock Fraser, whose father was a gunsmith with a homestead on the Hudson river. The family is definitely in support of the Patriots, but quietly so, and this does not exclude occasional amicable relations with some of the many British in the area, and their apprentice is even a deserter from England. Inevitably, of course, the conflict comes to a head. Jock had become acquainted with, and impressed by, Major John Andre. As a member of the militia, Jock had the chance of letting Andre escape, but it would have meant losing the vital West Point. While defense of the country supersedes other considerations in the boy's mind, he continues to maintain his admiration for Andre, who, though a spy, was ""...a gallant British officer...a patriotic and courageous man,"" while Benedict Arnold is left despised as ""...a knave and turncoat."" While the judgment of these two men is rather superficial, the emphasis upon the divergence between personal and national allegiance is important and only too seldom handled.