'The look-out screamed against the wind, his hair streaming out behind him, his tunic flapping, wrapping tightly round bare legs blue with cold. 'Tis the Elephant, sir. Comin' up on us fast!'" John is on board the Esperance, heading for a new life in Flanders. But when the ship is chased and holed by pirates, the crew have to put in to the nearest port. Far from home, John soon finds that more dangers await him on land than on sea, as he is caught up in an intrigue that could send him to the gallows.