A story of the Barbary Coast at the turn of the eighteenth century has all the makings of good historical fiction in fine measure. Against a setting that depicts America's tribute problems with Algiere, there is young Tom Walton's search for his missing brother Richard believed lost in North Africa. By accident, Tom sails from Philadelphia with the George Washington, a tribute ship bound for Algiers. There the Bey who wants to appease the Sultan of Turkey for having made an unauthorized peace with the French, forces the George Washington to sail to Constantinople as his own payment to the Turks. When the Boy is even further reprimanded at Constantinople, the American ship returns to Algeria, where at last Tom discovers Richard is one of the Bey's slaves and frees him by gaining the Bey's favor.