James Madison is President and itching to wrest Florida from Spain. Florida's a fountain of blood, ""Satan's Back Yard,"" a buzzing hive of thieves, pirates, Indians and runaway slaves from Georgia and the Carolinas. Lt. John Ames is promoted to colonel, given the assignment of infiltrating Florida, and buys a slave off a Charleston auction block. Wash the slave, set free by Ames, becomes his noble manservant and saves Ames' life -- in fact, saves about everybody in the book. Soon Ames and Wash are in Florida, mixing with pirates for control of Amelia Island. Much against his will, Ames, a Puritan, is seduced by Catholic Luiza, who is married to the Spanish emissary. At the story's end Luiza's delivered of Ames' child, her husband conveniently shot dead, and Ames is on his way to make an honest woman of her. Pure adventure, lively and fading as your eye lifts from the page.