Ben leaves a happy ship, the Faithful, to join a most unhappy ship, the Hawk, under Captain Sharp who is suffering from syphilis but will not admit it. Ben, who is only 15, is asked to serve as acting surgeon’s mate on a ship with no surgeon. He is faced with ‘lubbers’, an alcoholic second lieutenant, an insane midshipman and tropical fevers. He is shanghaied aboard a slaver, escapes and later is taken with ten of his crew aboard a Spanish pirate ship. He manages to capture the pirate ship and her two foreign prizes and brings them into port at Barbados with a crew of only ten men, expecting to be blown out of the water. Besides saving the lives of men afflicted with fevers, he must serve as senior officer on a ship that is sinking and has a crew of Spaniards who are fever-ridden. He is crucified during a court martial for loss of the ship by one man who is destined to play an important role in his life. He manages to pass the lieutenant’s exam on his second try. Volume 2 of 9 in The Rundel Series.