After a checkered career at sea and on land Leo Mack settles down in Blue Anchor shortly before the Civil War. A solitary man living in Ida Crabtree's boarding house, he earns his living as a tinker but finds his worth and mission when the war begins. As a traveling tinker he carries news of military events to isolated farmhouses and becomes in effect a broadcaster of war news. In time just about every person in the county knows Leo by name but nothing of his background. Isaac Brandimore takes it upon himself to tell Mack's story but dies before the work is finished. Emily Kingston comes forward to salvage the story and finish it, but not before Leo dies. Concluding the project, she observes that Leo Mack in tattered work clothes was "animated in good times and bad by blood and brain and spirit." His death, she tells us, diminished Blue Anchor.