1803: Captain Sir Richard Giles has used the peace of Amiens to find and purchase a rural estate at Dipton It will provide living quarters for his relatives and an opportunity to pursue his interest in agricultural processes and improvements, a task where he may find assistance from the daughter of his immediate neighbor. She seems to be more interested in estate management and improvement than in the more usual pursuits of young ladies.
A French frigate of possibly new design has been using the period of peace to take British frigates and merchant ships illegally and spirit the captures to some unknown base. Giles is called from his bucolic pursuits to take command of a newly built frigate whose task is to find and destroy the enemy vessel and recapture her prizes.
While Captain Giles is doing this, life continues apace at Dipton so that when Giles can snatch some leave, he finds that things have not remained static. The novel tells of how events develop at sea and also on land in the early days following the abrogation of the treaty of Amiens.