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In the 1830's, on an island village of Colvado, in the West Indies, young Manuela is told by her aunt Inez that arrangements have been made for her to marry Don Pedro Vargas, the new mayor of the town. The news comes as a disappointment to Manuela, who has fantasized about being swept away by the notorious Macoco, the "ruthless, magnificent and romantic" pirate. However, she consents to marry Don Pedro out of gratitude to her aunt and uncle, who reared her since the death of her parents. After promising Inez that she will make Don Pedro a good wife, Manuela persuades her aunt to take her on a trip to the island of San Sebastian. Manuela and her aunt arrive at the island port just as a ship carrying Serafin and his troupe of performers docks. While performing his dazzling antics for the audience at the port, Serafin takes notice of Manuela and follows her to the shore, where he tries to seduce her. Although she resists his advances, Serafin invites Manuela to his show later that evening. At the show, after Serafin hypnotizes Manuela with a spinning mirror, she performs a dance and sings the praises of her dream lover, Macoco. Unable to wake her from her trance by conventional means, Serfain kisses her to bring her back, and when she realizes that the audience is cheering their kiss, she flees in embarrassment. Manuela returns to Colvado and begins her preparations for the wedding, but Serafin follows her and insists that she call off the marriage and run away with his troupe. Overhearing Serafin's demand, Don Pedro bursts into the room and prepares to whip Serafin. Alone with Don Pedro, Serafin immediately recognizes him as the notorious fugitive pirate Macoco and threatens to expose him. Determined to keep his identity a secret, Don Pedro acquiesces to Serafin's demand that he play along with his scheme to pose as Macoco in order to win Manuela's affections. Manuela readily believes Serafin when he tells her that he is Macoco, and plans are made for their elopement. Meanwhile, Don Pedro doublecrosses Serafin and solicits the help of the viceroy and his army to apprehend him and bring him to trial as Macoco. When Serafin's valet accidentally reveals to Manuela that her Macoco is a fake, she becomes enraged. However, her love for Serafin proves stronger than the insult of the lie and she eventually makes amends with Serafin. Their reconcilliation is soon interrupted, though, when Serafin is arrested and charged with Macoco's crimes. Things look bad for Serafin when he is unable to prove his true identity because Don Pedro has planted stolen jewels in his trunk. Only moment before his intended execution, Serafin, with the help of Manuela, manages to outwit Don Pedro and snare him in a clever trap by staging a hypnotic act in which Manuela praises Macoco's renowned virtues. This makes the real Macoco jealous and drives him to confesses with pride his true identity. The execution is halted, and Serafin and Manuela leave to join Serafin's traveling show.