Chapter Summaries

The novel is divided into three books.



Chapter I: Captain Cai Hauls Ashore

Date:  April 1896. Day 1 is over a week after Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation, which falls on March 25 (see p. 29). It must therefore be the first week of April. The time of day is morning.

Location: The harbour at Troy

Captain Caius Hocken of the barquetine Hannah Hoo moors alongside the quay at Troy near to the King O’Prussia inn. Hocken, aged fifty-four, is retiring from the sea. He has leased from Mrs Bosenna of Rilla Farm through ship’s chandler John Rogers, two houses in Harbour Terrace, one for himself and the other for his friend Captain Tobias Hunken. Hunken is to arrive on the following day.

Note: a barquetine is a sailing vessel with the foremast square-rigged and the remaining two fore-and-aft rigged. In 1896, steam was rapidly taking over from sail, which may have been a factor in the retirement of the two captains.


Chapter II: The Barber’s Chair

Date: April 1896, Day 1, morning

Location: Simeon Toy, hairdressers of Troy

Captain Hocken describes his friend Tobias Hunken and learns from Mr Philp, the local gossip, of a postcard at the post office announcing the arrival of Hunken in Troy on the morrow. The reader also receives information regarding John Rogers, Fancy Tabb, and the death of Farmer Bosenna in 1895.


Chapter III: Tabb’s Child

Date: April 1896, Day 1, morning

Location: The ship’s chandlers of John Rogers in Troy

Caius Hocken prepares the Hannah Hoo for sale and pays off the crew before consulting John Rogers on his investments and the leasing of Harbour Terrace from Mrs Bosenna. He is introduced to Fancy Tabb, who serves Rogers, as does her father, Elijah Tabb, once master of The Uncle and Aunt.


Chapter IV: Three Woman Understand

Date: April 1896, Day 1 pm

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Mrs Bosenna and Dinah, her maid, are in the garden of Harbour Terrace when Caius Hocken and Fancy Tabb arrive for an inspection of the house, which is lengthy. In the late afternoon they meet in the garden. Mrs Bosenna deliberately leaves a widow’s cuff behind when departing as an inducement to Hocken to call at Rilla Farm to return it.


Chapter V: A Testimonial

Date: April 1896, Days 1 to 2

Location: Ship Inn, Trafalgar Square, Troy

Cai Hocken spends an uneasy night at the inn.


Date: Day 2, morning

Location: Garden of Harbour Terrace

A description of Harbour Terrace garden. Philp inevitably turns up and Mrs Bosenna’s cuff is discovered. The two then walk to town.


Date: Day 2, morning.

Location: S. Benny, Gentlemen’s Outfitters

Caius Hocken purchases a hat which he wants and a coat which he does not.


Date: Day 2, between 10 and 10.45

Location: Custom-house, Troy

Hocken walks to the custom-house where his crew, who are not paid off until the following Saturday, wait to make him the gift of a musical box. The musical box appears a trivial gift but it plays a part in the development of the plot.


Chapter VI: Rilla Farm

Date: April 1986, Day 2, late morning to early afternoon

Location: Rilla Farm, Troy


Caius Hocken walks from the custom-house, up a wooded valley, to Rilla Farm, where he finds Mrs Bosenna in widow’s dress. He returns the widow’s cuff, as Mrs Bosenna hoped he would. The farm is shown to him so as to impress. He leaves Rilla Farm to meet the 3.30 train carrying Tobias Hunken.


Chapter VII: 'Bias Arrives

Date:  April 1896, Late Afternoon, day 2.

Locations: 1.Troy Railway Station; 2. Rilla Farm

At the station, as Tobias Hunken is arriving, Caius Hocken discovers a silver matchbox which had been placed in his pocket by Dinah. He has to go to Rilla Farm to return it, in company with Tobias Hunken. This was a ruse to bring Hunken to Rilla.


Chapter VIII: 'Bias Approves

Date: Early evening, Day 2

Location: Troy

The captains leave Rilla Farm and walk through the streets of Troy where they encounter the former crew of the Hannah Hoo. On arriving at Harbour Terrace they encounter Fancy Tabb and two prospective servants, Mrs Bowlder and Palmerston Burt. Burt is from Tregarrick Workhouse where he had been placed by his mother following the loss of his father aboard a coal ship owned by John Rogers. Hunken owns a parrot whose significance appears later.

Mr Philp appears in the garden.




Chapter IX: First Suspicions

Date: August, 1896, The Tuesday of the Annual Regatta

Location: The summer-house of Harbour Terrace

Life at Harbour Terrace. A discussion between Hocken and Hunken in the summer-house. Information regarding Mrs Bowldler and to a lesser extent Palmerston Burt. The arrival of Mrs Bosenna who wishes to view the firework display from the garden of Harbour Terrace. She discovers, as she expected, competition between the two captains. At 7.30 Caius Hocken leaves for the committee meeting of the Regatta Committee.


Date:  August, 1896, Wednesday, Regatta Day.

Location: The House of John Peter Nanjulian above Lower Town.

Caius Hocken takes his musical box (see Ch. V.) to Nanjulian to have a plate engraved. Mr Philp enters with the uncomfortable news of Tobias Hunken’s regular meeting with Mrs Bosenna at Rilla Farm.


Chapter X: Regatta Night

Date: August, 1896, Wednesday, the night of the Regatta

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Caius Hocken has a less than successful day on the committee boat and returns to Harbour Terrace for supper in the summer-house with Tobias Hunken and Mrs Bosenna. They watch the fireworks from the garden but then have to retire to the summer-house of Tobias Hunken to escape a shower of rain and have supper. Tobias tells the fortune of Tobias Hunken and Caius Hocken from a pack of cards with the same lady for each.


Chapter XI: Mrs Bosenna Plays a Game

Date: August, 1896, the Thursday of Regatta week, morning

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Mrs Bowldler informs Captain Hocken that they have run out of coal owing to Rogers having given short weight; which he disbelieves.


Date: Thursday morning

Location: Rogers’ chandlery

Caius Hocken goes to the ship’s-chandlery where he sees Rogers and Fancy Tabb weighing coal. Rogers invites Hocken to take his place on the School Board as a co-opted member, obviating an election which Philp would win. Rogers explains how he gives Philip short weight in coal through a ruse. Fancy Tabb suggests Hocken seeks feminine advice regarding the post, thus reading the captain’s mind. He repairs to Rilla Farm.


Date: Late morning of Thursday

Location: Rilla Farm, Troy

Caius Hocken discovers Tobias Hunken with Mrs Bosenna at Rilla Farm.


Chapter XII: Amantium Irae

Date: August, 1986, Thursday afternoon of Regatta Week

Location: Rilla Farm

Mrs Bosenna’s views on education. Hocken and Hunken inspect Rilla Farm. They encounter Farmer Middlecoat, who Mrs Bosenna pretends to fear.


Chapter XIII: Fair Challenge

Date: August, 1986, Thursday evening of Regatta Week

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Mrs Bowldler objects to the talk of Hunken’s parrot. Hunken explains that he is making Mrs Bosenna a present of the bird. The captains declare their mutual regard for Mrs Bosenna and decide to send her letters so that she can choose between them.

Date: Friday of Regatta Week

Location: Harbour Terrace

Tobias Hunken rises early so as to consult Peter Benny on the contents of the letter to Mrs Bosenna.


Chapter XIV: The Letters

Date: August, 1986, Friday of Regatta Week

Location: Office of Peter Benny, Troy

A description of Peter Benny. Caius Hocken is the first to arrive at the office of Peter Benny to consult about the proposed letter. He also consults Benny on the seat of the School Board. Benny agrees to provide lessons in elocution. On his departure Tobias Hunken arrives also to consult on a letter to Mrs Bosenna.


Chapter XV: Palmerston’s Genius

Date: The afternoon of the Friday of Regatta Week

Location: Harbour Terrace

In front of Mrs Bowldler, Fancy Tabb asks Palmerston Burt to run away and marry her. Palmerston admits his ambition to be a writer, showing Fancy a manuscript.


Chapter XVI: Is In Two Parts

Part I

Date: August 1986, Friday evening of Regatta Week

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Caius Hocken and Tobias Hunken inform each other of the letters to Mrs Bosenna composed by Peter Benny. They realise this places Mrs Bosenna in an exposed position and agree to go together to Rilla Farm to explain on the following morning, which is Saturday.


Part II

Date: Saturday morning of Regatta Week

Location: Rilla Farm, Troy

When the subject of the letters is introduced by the captains, Mrs Bosenna claims to have seen no post, but perceives them to be in competition for her. They admit having gone to Peter Benny. When the language of the parrot is introduced, Mrs Bosenna requests Tobias Hunken to remove the bird. The two captains leave Rilla Farm.  Entering the town, with Hunken carrying the parrot, they encounter Rogers, Philp, who is complaining of short measures, and Fancy Tabb. Rogers buys the parrot but loans it to Philp for a month to discover its speech. At Rilla Farm Mrs Bosenna is satisfied with her performance as having given nothing away to her suitors.




Chapter XVIII: The Ploughing

Date: Saturday Evening of Regatta Week

Location: Harbour Terrace, Troy

Fancy Tabb informs Mrs Bowldler of the disagreement of the captains over Mrs Bosenna.


Date: Last Monday of September, 1896

Location: Troy

The row between the captains over Mrs Bosenna becomes public knowledge.


Date: Last Tuesday in September

Location: Troy

Caius Hocken is co-opted on to the School Board in place of John Rogers, and makes himself a candidate for the Parish Council and the Harbour Commissioners.


Date: The last Saturday in September, 1896

Location: A field owned by Mrs Bosenna at the Four Turnings

The captains challenge each other to a ploughing contest to the displeasure of Mrs Bosenna and the ruin of the field.


Chapter XIX: Roses and Three-Per-Cents

Date: a Sunday in 1896

Location: Rilla Farm, Troy

Mrs Bosenna, to test the financial acumen of the captains, requests them independently to invest for her one hundred pounds each. With little knowledge of investment, they have no option but to consult John Rogers on the following morning. When alone with Dinah, Mrs Bosenna admits to being undecided between the two captains, although her eye is actually on Farmer Middlecoat. She also admits to not wanting a man more financially astute than herself.


Chapter XX: ‘A Newspaper Paragraph’

Date: Monday

Location: John Rogers’ Chandlery

Fancy Tabb reads to John Rogers the newspaper account of the ploughing match which had been written by Shake Benny at the instigation of Philp. The conflict between the two captains is highlighted. Tobias Hunken enters with the hundred pounds Mrs Bosenna wishes him to invest, following Caius Hocken who had arrived earlier. Rogers shows Philp’s account of the ploughing match in the paper. Hunken leaves to confront Philp at his house.


Date: The same

Location: Philp’s house in Union Place

Fancy Tabb guides Hunken to the house of Philp. They find Philp in grotesque disguise. It is a means of getting the parrot to talk. Hunken flees the house.


Chapter XXI

Date: Autumn, 1896

Location: Toy’s barbers shop and Harbour Terrace

A section on gossip in Troy about the rivalry between the two captains. A short section on Palmerston’s literary activities.


Date: Friday, Christmas Day, 1896

Location: Rilla Farm

Caius Hocken and Tobias Hunken meet at Rilla Farm where they are taking their rent to Mrs Bosenna. They hear how disturbed Mrs Bosenna is about the intention of Farmer Middlecoat to purchase fifty acres of poor land adjoining Rilla. This land is called Barton’s Orchard. The captains, disturbed by Mrs Bosenna’s anxiety, walk independently away.


Date: Monday, January 4, 1897, at 2.30

Location: The Long Room of the Ship Inn, Troy

At the auction Farmer Middlecoat buys extensive tracts of land with little opposition. When Barton’s Orchard comes up for auction Caius Hocken and then Tobias Hunken bid against Middlecoat out of deference to Mrs Bosenna. However, when Mrs Bosenna arrives she silences the captains with a look and the orchard falls to Middlecoat at an inflated price. Apparently all three were bidding to please Mrs Bosenna.


Chapter XXII: The Last Challenge

Date: Thursday, Lady Day, 1897, March

Location: Rilla Farm

Tobias Hunken calls on Mrs Bosenna with the rent and the interest from the investment. He announces his new position as co-opted Shipowners’ representative on the Harbour Board, occasioned by the resignation of John Rogers.


Date: Friday in March

Location: Rilla Farm

Caius Hocken arrives at Rilla Farm with his rent and the interest from the investment. He announces that the stevedores of the jetties have made him President for the Passage Regatta on Whit Monday – Monday, an event for which Mrs Bosenna had offered a silver cup.

In the poll for the Parish Council both captains are elected, with Hocken as Chairman.

After the first Council meeting John Rogers challenges Tobias Hunken about the Harbour Board trying to get Commissioners to check for overloaded vessels, that is below the Plimsoll Line. Hunken replies that overloading robs the underwriters and endangers the lives of seamen. Rogers states that the money he invested was placed on the Saltypool. Hunken informs him, possibly to Rogers’ honest astonishment, that the Saltypool was below Plimsoll Mark when she left Troy.

Independently, Hocken and Hunken encounter Philp who learns that Mitchell is building a row boat for Hocken and Wyatt for Hunken with the Regatta competition in mind.


Chapter XXIII Passage Regatta

Date: Whit-Monday, 7 June, 1897

Location: Troy harbour

On board the Committee boat is Caius Hocken, Mrs Bosenna, who is to award the cup, and assistant treasurer Palmerston Burt, who swallows two sovereigns. Philp brings news of the loss of the Saltypool which had occasioned a second stroke for Rogers.


Chapter XXIV: Fancy Brings the News

Date: Evening of Whit-Monday, 7 June, 1897

Location: Harbour Terrace

Fancy Tabb arrives at Harbour Terrace with the news of the loss of the Saltypool and the stroke of John Rogers, to find Palmerston Burt being attended to by Dr Higgs. She informs Mrs Bowldler that her father’s servitude to Rogers was the result of a joint speculation which failed, but that at least Rogers had provided minimally for them.

Fancy Tabb informs Caius Hocken that the hundred pounds he had Rogers invest for Mrs Bosenna was lost with the Saltypool as the vessel was uninsured. The same applied to Tobias Hunken’s investment. This however was not the close of the matter Fancy had to discuss. Rogers had kept the securities of the captains in his safe, but in October had returned those of Hocken who put them in a strong-box. Hunken, however, had not had his returned. Yet when Fancy searched the safe Hunken’s papers were not there. She reminds Hocken that he had introduced Hunken to Rogers, and leaves, after criticising Palmerston for his foolishness.


Chapter XXV: Cai Renounces

Date: Evening of Whit Monday

Location: Harbour Terrace

Caius Hocken has an examination of conscience. Philp arrives with the news that after speculating for years the loss of the Saltypool had rendered Rogers bankrupt, as it was uninsured. Hocken and Hunken meet in the summer-house and realise that both had lost Mrs Bosenna’s money. Hunken is then informed of the loss of his financial papers from the safe of Rogers. Hocken offers him the use of the Hannah Hoo . Hocken believes his papers to have been safely returned. Hunken renounces Mrs Bosenna.

Later, Caius Hocken investigates his strong-box, to discover not his own papers but those of Tobias Hunken.


Chapter XXVI: ’Bias Renounces

Date: Following Tuesday

Location: The Chandlery of John Rogers

Tobias Hunken goes to the ship’s-chandlers followed by Caius Hocken. There they meet John Rogers and Fancy Tabb upstairs. Hocken gives Hunken his papers explaining that previously he had picked them up under the impression that they were his own. It is Hocken who is ruined. He leaves. Hunken tells Fancy Tabb that he renounces Mrs Bosenna so that Hocken can marry her.

Later, Hocken’s papers are found by Fancy Tabb with the help of Peter Benny.


Chapter XXVII: Mrs Bosenna Gives The Rose

Date: Following Wednesday

Location: Rilla Farm

Hocken and Hunken walk together to Rilla Farm to decline further interest in Mrs Bosenna, to find Farmer Middlecoat, who had promised to marry her the previous day, in the garden. The friendship of the captains has been restored.


Chapter XXVIII: Jubilee

Date: The Jubilee of Queen Victoria – June 22, 1897

Location: Harbour Terrace

The captains work together preparing for the Jubilee, their relationship restored. Mrs Bosenna is to marry Farmer Middlecoat and Fancy Tabb hopes to marry Palmerston Burt. Philp is baffled. Rogers, a complete invalid, is not forgotten.