This description by Helga Quadflieg
An exotic woman who calls herself “Miss Indigo Jones” offers James a job which sounds simple enough: He is to bring out a new crew from Liverpool to her ship, the Samantha, which is anchored off Cork. James and the crew are to bring the ship up to Liverpool, where the ship’s own master, Captain Jones, will take over again and bring the ship and its valuable cargo of guano into port.
James is suspicious, especially about the ship’s original crew, but he is told by Indigo that most of the crew drowned and a few of them died of ”fever” during the long passage from Peru. James is to help her ensure a quick turnaround in Liverpool (including a “clean bill of health”, thereby avoiding quarantine), in order to get back quickly to her secret source of cheap guano.
James and Albert, his partner in this business, are to receive 1/4 of the cargo’s profit; moreover, James hopes to find out about the source of the guano. The new crew are to receive a month’s wages for a “mouth-shut” job of one week. Albert is to enlist the help of a relative who works in the Custom’s office.
When James gets on board the Samantha he is obviously disgusted by the degenerate state of both, Captain Jones and his ship. Shocked by the appearance and smell of the folks-room, he is clearly sceptical about the information he gets from Captain and Indigo Jones about the amount of fever on board. He insists on a basic disinfection by means of fumigation and white-liming, but apart from that he chooses to ignore his own doubts. Instead, he bullies Johnny, the ship’s cook and the only remaining member of the old crew, into telling about him the source of the guano.
In contrast to James, Twinty Morgan, one of the new crew, takes a more insistent interest in the Samantha’s history and he learns from Johnny that most of the old crew had not simply “drowned” but had been thrown overboard alive as soon as the fever had broken out. These murders, just as all the other misdeeds on board, had been instigated by Indigo who exerts a femme fatale influence on Captain Jones (who, in contrast to what she makes James believe, is anything but her father).
After having reached Liverpool, Indigo’s charms also seem to work with Albert’s cousin John who signs all the necessary papers without any further inquiries or inspection of ship or cargo.
But before even the Samantha can set sail for her voyage back, James has already dispatched the Charlotte Rhodes under Captain Baines for the “guano coast“. Among Baines’ new crew is Twinty Morgan.
Meanwhile back in Liverpool, the relationship between Albert and Elizabeth is deteriorating into coldness and bitterness; Albert spends little time at home, Elizabeth feels neglected and fuels Albert’s jealousy by openly reminiscing about her time with Daniel.
Things between James and Anne haven’t improved either: Having lost her job as an accountant Anne is scraping a living by taking in washing. She finds little support in her father who urges her to go back to James (whom, in spite of that, he loathes as much as ever).
Baines, on one occasion, and Robert and Webster on another, clumsily arrange meetings between James and Anne, but with both of them waiting for the other to make the first step, the meetings are bound to fail. Moreover, James soon has to cope with the disastrous side- effects of his Samantha venture: Albert arrives with the news that some of the sailors who had brought the ship into port have died of yellow fever...