"All this happened a good many years ago". This is the disclaiming first sentence of this sea tale par excellence which evolved from a passage in The Moon and Sixpence, written twelve years before. On his way home from a remote Pacific island, Dr Saunders meets the treacherous Captain Nichols, who is carrying Fred Blake from Australia, where he has committed murder. Sheltering from a storm on the island of Kanda, the trio are befriended by the good-natured Erik Christessen. But once they encounter the cool and beautiful Louise their story becomes one of love, jealousy, murder and suicide.