A young private, Penton Gray, known as Pen, is injured during an engagement in the Peninsular War. When he comes to he finds that the boy bugler, Punch, from his regiment, is lying injured close by. The British troops are near, but the area where the boys are is occupied by the French, who are the enemy. The boys need to recover from their wounds, and then to get back to their regiment. They have numerous adventures, and meet several people who help them, including the deposed Spanish King.
“A sharp volley, which ran echoing along the ravine, then another, just as the faint bluish smoke from some hundred or two muskets floated up into the bright sunshine from amidst the scattered chestnuts and cork-trees that filled the lower part of the beautiful gorge, where, now hidden, now flashing out and scattering the rays of the sun, a torrent roared and foamed along its rocky course onward towards its junction with the great Spanish river whose destination was the sea.”