Resourceful scenery, resurrected plot. Ben Tate sees his father's ship go down and things get pretty rough at home--Grandfather's not all there, Ma insists Pa is still alive, sister Phoebe wants new clothes like her friends. So the sixteen-year-old prefers the instant cash of Deming Jarves' glassworks factory (1827, Sandwich, Mass.) to a future in medicine. But he needs even more money and is on his way to Boston when he discovers an injured man whom he brings back to the house; the stranger offers, from his deathbed, a slip of paper containing. . . what? Written in German, it has some connection with boss Jarves' newfangled experiments, so he asks friend Emily to tutor him. With her help and key words from a dictionary in the Harvard library he translates the formula for golden-ruby glass (a Bohemian secret Jarves is looking for) and heats up a batch which includes his mother's (gold) wedding ring. But it comes out dirty yellow and he throws it into Emily's fireplace and just happens to be there when she's sweeping out the ashes; the second exposure to heat brings out the red, which assures him of a more lucrative position in the factory. And just before that Pa comes home after a (hard-to-take) chance rescue, illness and recovery. Lots of fuel, no sparkle or spunk.