Marshall's wiles as a story teller suffer something of a sea change as he takes Alaska for his locale and makes a real sourdough his focal point. Young Eric Anderson, of Norwegian descent, woos and wins the lovely, but incestuously fixed, Sophia Hill en route from South Carolina with her father for his appointment as director of government education, in Alaska. Aware that she must be freed from Professor Hill, Sophia lets Eric be her tutor for love, outfaces her father even when he renounces her and finds the best of her new world with Eric. But when, in the northern wilds, she loses her baby and learns of Eric's half-breed -- she suicides, and Eric is dedicated to follow her wishes for his advancement in the territory. From then on it is the story of Eric's rise in Alaskan affairs, as U. S. Marshal and as postmaster; of Joe Harris, raised by Eric but never acknowledged as his son, whom he educates for a future of mixed blood without shame or regrets; and of the last, fatal voyage of Princess Sophia, the ship that struck a reef and sank with all aboard... Somewhere the cold seeps in.