Tensions grow within the close confines of the ship. The safety of the
increasingly dilapidated hulk is by no means assured and the situation
is worsened when the foremast is damaged.
The ship is becalmed in the doldrums. The shape of another vessel is
sighted in the fog. The assumption is that it is French, and excited preparations
are made for imminent engagement, but to the disappointment of all those
who were hoping for the thrill of battle, the other ship - the Alcyone
- turns out to be English.
From the commander of this ship it is learned that the war with France
is over. The two ships are fastened together and passengers from each
vessel introduced to each other. A ball is planned and preparations generate
Talbot meets Marion Chumley, with whom he falls instantly
in love. They flirt and his hopes are raised. But Deverel, again drunk,
also pursues her.
When the time comes for the ships to part, Talbot is distraught at the
thought of never seeing Marion again. With the Alcyone gone Talbot can
only pine. The troublesome Deverel has also gone, exchanged for one of
the Alcyone's officers, Benet, who is handsome and urbane
and something of a risk-taker.
Edmund takes against him, growing closer instead to the more cautious
Summers. The sea is up again, and gloom and terror pervade the ship as
there is now a serious danger that it will break apart.
A rivalry begins between Summers and Benet as to the best method of preventing
the ship from disintegrating. Benet has become Captain Anderson's favourite
and his plan is adopted.
The radical thinker Prettiman has had a bad fall in the storm and is
tended by an unlikely nurse in the shape of the severe governess, Miss
Talbot sails on, wondering if he will ever see Marion again.