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In 1890, two British expatriates, Robert Herrick and Huish, and German Captain Jakob Thorbecke, are commissioned to sail a Yankee schooner called The Golden State , whose captain and crew have died of smallpox. From Tehua in the South Seas to Australia, they are to deliver a cargo of champagne. Thorbecke decides to head for Peru, however, so he can sell the merchandise and pocket the money. While sailing, Faith Wishart, daughter of the deceased captain, comes out of her hiding place on board and, by briefly holding Thorbecke at gunpoint, demands he make the delivery. She shoots Thorbecke, but he receives only a skin wound and turns the ship toward Peru. In the hold, Huish gets drunk on champagne, and when Thorbecke joins him, he confesses that he sunk his own ship because he had been drunk. A typhoon hits, and after Robert and Thorbecke save the ship, Thorbecke resolves to sober up. He spills the champagne and discovers that the rest of the bottles are filled with water. When they find a jug of acid, they realize that Faith's father had been planning to sabotage the ship for insurance money. Because the ship is crippled and they have only a week's worth of food left, they stop at Kanaki, a seemingly deserted island. They find, however, that an American named Attwater, his two Kanaki guards and female servant are living luxuriously on the island, the only survivors of a smallpox infestation. Attwater has been mining pearls illegally on the British-owned island and is apparently insane. When Thorbecke and Huish plot to rob him, Attwater forces them back to their ship. He is enchanted by Faith, however, who has swum ashore, and plans to keep her with him, unaware that she is in love with Robert. Thorbecke and Huish return to the island intending to throw acid in Attwater's face, but their plan fails and he shoots them to death. Shortly thereafter, Attwater's native guard sees him trip and fall and, realizing he is not a god as he had formerly believed, refuses to protect him from Robert. Robert leaves Attwater alone on the island to count his pearls, while he, Faith, and the remaining islanders set sail for home, fully provisioned.