Mason has hit upon a very effective backdrop for this swash by a veteran buckler: the utterly devastated South following Lincoln's assassination. Young Colonel Rodney Ajax Tilt is at Appomattox Court House for Lee's capitulation and, under oath to go unarmed, leads a ragged, starving band of Confederates on their march back to western Virginia. On the way they are ambushed by Northern deserters and forced to defend themselves. When some of them are surprised by legitimate Northern soldiers and found to be armed, they are hung. Also along the way, Colonel Tilt, a widower, takes responsibility for young Meg Forsythe whose family was wiped out. Virginia, of course, is in terrible shape and also beset by indemnities and back taxes. So when Tilt hears of a treasure once belonging to Emperor Maximilian and now buried on an island off the Mexican coast, he hires a ship and sets off to find the gold. As one expects, all turns out well, though not before a battle at sea. Nothing new, but it does summon up the era.