The year was 1808. The setting off the waters of Ceylon. And the theme an encounter between the fast British frigate San Fiotenzo, convoying three vessels, and the slower but more powerfully armed French merchant raider, . The British, counting on their surprise speed, are twice brilliantly outsailed, and only escape complete ruin by the enemy's precipitous chase of the cargo vessels. In barely the nick of time, the San Fiorenzo returns to give battle -- and all is saved. The scene volleys from ship to ship, from captain to captain. Once again there is a sense of on the scene reportage- and it reads like an exciting, circumstantial record. That it actually happened is a fact of history. That it has been resurrected and made into good reading for today is more or less a chance of a writer's fancy.