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Stavros Topouzoglou, a young Greek, decides to emigrate to America when one of his closest friends is murdered for standing up to Turkish oppression in 1896. As a preliminary step, he journeys to Constantinople in order to join his cousin Odysseus' rug business. His parents, Isaac and Vasso, planning to join their son later, entrust him with the Topouzoglou valuables; but Stavros is robbed on the way by Abdul, a dishonest Turk who previously befriended him. He later avenges the theft by killing Abdul but reaches his cousin's home penniless and disgraced. Odysseus advises Stavros to capitalize on his good looks by marrying a wealthy woman, but Stavros refuses to jeopardize his trip to America. Instead, he joins a group of revolutionaries and is seriously wounded during a raid. After a short affair with Vartuhi, one of the conspirator's daughters, Stavros reconsiders his cousin's suggestion and becomes engaged to Thomna Sinnikoglou, the homely daughter of a rug dealer. He finds that he cannot go through with the marriage, however, and accepts only a fraction of the large dowry offered by Thomna's father--just enough money for a boat trip to America. A day before the ship's departure, Stavros meets Sophia, the wife of American rug buyer Aratoon Kebabian. They have an affair aboard ship, but the romance is quickly aborted when the furious Aratoon discovers them and promises to have the young Greek deported to Turkey. Stavros hides from the authorities but realizes that the most important dream of his life will probably be shattered. His despair over the certain deportation has driven him near the point of nervous collapse when he meets Hohanness Gardashian, a young Armenian who is one of eight indentured shoeshine boys on his way to New York. Just as Stavros' chances for escape seem more remote than ever, Hohanness, who is dying of tuberculosis, jumps over the side of the ship and drowns himself, thereby permitting Stavros to use his name and take over the shoeshine job. The young Greek reaches America at last and begins saving money to bring his family to join him.