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Alan Gaskell, the hard-living captain of a China Seas steamer, is starting another voyage to Shanghai with a large shipment of gold and a colorful assortment of passengers. He finds China Doll, his brassy girlfriend, in his cabin and reluctantly lets her sail with him, but soon regrets the decision when Sybil Barclay, an English widow whom he once loved, arrives. China Doll makes a jealous fool of herself, then, when she hears that Alan and Sybil are going to marry, she takes up with her old friend Jamesy MacArdle. One night, after a drinking game, she learns that Jamesy is plotting to steal the gold shipment. She becomes his accomplice, out of fear, but when she tries to warn Alan, he calls her a tramp, and she willingly steals the arsenal key for Jamesy. During a storm Alan refuses to throw a steamroller over the side, despite the danger. Later, when pirates try to steal the gold, they only find sand because Alan had hidden the gold in the steamroller. Jamesy orders the men to torture Alan for information with a device known as the "Malay Boot," but pretends not to be part of the plot. The pirates are overthrown through the brave action of Tom Davids, a disgraced former captain. China Doll and Jamesy try to talk their way out of Alan's accusations, but he knows that they are guilty . Jamesy, who loves China Doll, tries to save her by confessing, but soon after his admission of guilt, he dies, having secretly swallowed poison. As the ship docks in Shanghai, Sybil realizes that Alan is in love with China Doll and leaves. China Doll still faces charges, but she is not afraid after Alan confesses his love. As she jovially leaves with the police, Alan prepares for another voyage.