This description by Helga Quadflieg
Furthered by unusually hot weather, the yellow fever which the Samantha brought to Liverpool has spread over the poorer quarters of the town, and there are suspicions that the public water-supply has been contaminated. As a result many houses (including the one where Baines’ sister lives) will have to be pulled down and the water supplies diverted. While the owners of the houses will be compensated by the authorities, tenants such as Baines’ sister will not.
An enquiry, chaired by Albert’s father, is established to examine the whole affair.
Albert and his cousin John, who feels particularly guilty for having granted the clean bill of health, entreat James that they should accept responsibility and openly explain their role in the affair. But James, although visibly feeling uncomfortable, is unwilling to “come forward” and to accept responsibility for the spread of the fever. He adopts a strictly legalistic line of defence by insisting that legally the responsibility lies with the owner and the master of the Samantha and he manages to silence Albert by pointing out the damage that the name of “Frazer” and the “Frazer Line” would suffer if Albert’s role became publicly known. James also repeatedly insists that he had been sure that the fever “had blown itself out”.
Fogarty is appointed “independent adviser” to the enquiry and he clearly enjoys the closeness to the authorities and the prospect of damaging Albert’s and James’ reputation.
Anne meets James to urge him to “come forward” and tell the truth about his involvement with the Samantha. Although far from leading to a reconciliation, there is a degree of rapprochement between the two of them, with Anne claiming that she left James primarily in order to induce him to share some of her values and with James conceding that he was hurt by her putting her principles before her loyalty to him. But when Anne again insists that she would not come back unless explicitly asked to do so, the meeting ends with James rushing off.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Rhodes under Cpt Baines is on its way to the “guano coast” when Twinty Morgan, the crew member who had already sailed on the Samantha, falls ill with yellow fever. When the ship almost runs aground (due to sloppy work by the weakened Morgan), most of the crew members desert the Ch.Rhodes and Baines has to sail home the ship almost single-handed. Flying the plague flag, the ship is put into quarantine. But hearing about the fever in Liverpool and that a woman from Wellington Street is in hospital under suspicion of yellow fever, Baines fears that this might be his sisters and furtively swims ashore at night. He finds his sister and her children alive and well, but also learns about the imminent demolition of their home.
In the mean time, the inquiry has proceeded, Fogarty has successfully drawn Jack Frazer’s attentions to James’ role and in an informal meeting after a dinner, James eventually finds himself cross-examined by Fogarty and Frazer. He finally resolves to come forward and discloses his involvement with the Samantha. When Frazer realizes the extent to which Albert is involved , he complies with James’ legalistic arguments: The legal responsibility for the obvious neglect lay with the owners and master of the Samantha, neither of whom unfortunately happens to be available for prosecution.
Having escaped charges, however, brings only short relief for James: he not only has to learn about the quarantine for the Ch.Rhodes, but, much worse, has to find that the woman suspected of having caught yellow fever is Anne.
While Anne is suffering and sweating in the stuffy dormitory of a shabby hospital, James is panicking and sweating outside the dormitory, where Baines finally finds him and confronts him about his sister.
No longer able to bear Anne’s screams, however, James brushes aside both Baines and the protesting nurses and breaks into the room, finally “unbending“ near Anne‘s bed.
The fever turns out to be no more than gallstones; James, for once, apologizes to Anne and the final scene has Anne and James happily beaming at each other while boarding the clipper to Foochow.