James Wilbraham Waite is living in a bedsit in Praxton Street, London, and feels trapped. Trapped by his life, his job...and particularly by the depressing room he rents. He sees it as his personal hell. His only escape is through reading books and imagining adventures. When he unexpectedly inherits a substantial sum of money from an uncle in Canada, he resolves to take off and live his dream.... He wants to experience life in the desert.
Arriving in Algiers, he meets up with some French commercial travellers and journeys south. There he meets Giles Duxberry, an Englishman who is desperate to return home. Neither man can understand the other's situation...but an amicable arrangement is made.
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