In the aftermath of a typhoon, Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater brings his Britannic Majesty's frigate Patrician into the shelter of the Pearl River upon the China Coast. He is entangled in bizarre events following the British occupation of Macao and Admiral Drury's attack on Canton. Initially relieved to be assigned the duty of a convoy escort to Penang, Drinkwater discovers that the enemy's cargo contains a mysterious quantity of silver and a single passenger. A routine task is suddenly complicated by the resurrection of an embittered hatred and Captain Drinkwater finds himself drawn in by treachery and greed towards a climatic rendezvous in the tropical rain forest of Borneo.
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