Based on the expeditions of William Phips to the West Indies in search of the sunken Spanish plate, this covers a dozen years of his life previous to his appointment to Colonial posts and involves young Jonathan Marsh in his ambitious project. Phips, secure in his wife's money, returns to Montsweag in Maine to collect Jon who falls in love with Griselda, Dame Phips' niece; their experiences in Boston include Griselda's marriage to Knepp, Admiralty agent, and in league with Phips' competitor for the prize. A try for the treasure in the Bahamas and the failure there send them to London where, after false moves, the venture is approved by Charles II. Another attempt, and the realization that not one but two vessels are needed, takes them to London again where, under King James, Phips is supported by the Gentlemen Adventurers and, in spite of mutiny and battle, retrieves the treasure. With Griselda at first balking, then aiding Jon and Phips, and the actress, Ann Selden, using her influence and money, and with the conflicts created by the Duke of Albemarle's interest in both females, late 17th century doings are briskly paced for modern readers.