Now that a time of peace has left Horatio without work at sea or a steady source of income, he has taken up gambling while living at a boarding house. Over the course of his residence, he meets Maria, the landlord's daughter, who soon manages to fall in love with him. When it suddenly becomes apparent that Napoleon's recent peace treaty has been merely yet another tactic in service of war, Horatio is given a promotion to captain, and oversees his first ship, faithful crew at hand, aboard the HMS Hotspur. Making the journey to France, the Hotspur's mission is to infiltrate and decipher Napoleon's next move while avoiding a major conflict. Horatio warily uses the assistance of Major Cotard, a French officer with allegiances to France, and attempts to unravel the mystery of a possible mutinous crew member onboard. As he becomes aware that Napoleon is already preparing for battle, however, war is fast becoming the only course of action.