Lieutenant John Pearce is in London seeking protection for his friends, the Pelicans, from a reluctant Admiralty. Sat in the Pelican Tavern where they were first press-ganged, he wonders what future he has, lacking funds and an occupation if he leaves Navy, and without the evidence that would bring Captain Ralph Barclay to justice for perjury. Problems are mounting for Barclay as well. Emily, his young, estranged wife, is refusing to live under the same roof as him and intends to use the evidence Pearce thinks is lost to get her own way. What action will be necessary to silence those who spell trouble for Barclay? Matters are looking up for Pearce when a smiling stranger offers him employment; the very profitable but illegal task of fetching a ship laden with contraband back from France. But is that smiling stranger all that he appears to be? How much danger is Emily Barclay in and are Pearce and his Pelicans sailing into prosperity or danger?