The night of Oct. 20, 1775, Stephen Starbuck, a Quaker, joins the crew of the sloop ""Ajax"" to run a cargo of sperm oil through the British blockade of Nantucket. Master of the sloop is David Rand, a ""bad"" Quaker--in fact, excommunicated--but a devil of a man. Rand is a Rebel, Stephen a Neutralist and his girl friend Lucretia a Tory. But on the way back from Philadelphia the ""Ajax"" is overtaken by a British brig commanded by Lucretia's new suites, the smiling, sneering, spinet-playing Lt. Williams, whose most blistering epithet is ""Keep your opinion to yourself, sir!"" And below deck, Stephen cries, ""Damn it all, David, from this moment on, I am a Robel!"" He and David recapture the ""Ajax"" and soon are preying on rich vessels from England. On a trip to the West Indian Islands, he meets wealthy, Dutch and desirable Celestine, whose father nearly offers him a fortune to be her suitor. ""Was this all he represented to them? Must he be bargained for like an Arabian steed?"" No stud Starbuck, he sails off in a steam of oatmeal morals. More British ships are knocked over like cardboard cutouts, until luck changes. David is half-paralyzed and Stephen later recaptured by his adversary in love. The plot advances in intricate scrimshaw cliches until Nantucket is declared a neutral port. To be fair, the historical detail is ceaseless. But that just is not enough to beat off the dialogue: ""Does thee expect Lucretia to humble herself in front of thee? Has thee forgotten her pride? Does thee question her love?"" None o' that, my hearty.