While in port at Levuka, Rear-Admiral Garnet reluctantly agrees to meet a man who is asking to see him. The oily and obsequious Obadiah Howlman, who has aspirations to become a missionary, tells the Admiral that he believes a man called George Barcom is a deserter. However, his story is clearly motivated by his jealousy of Barcom, who has won the affections of Tuilangi, the daughter of an island king, and is living with her in the Yasawas. The Admiral reluctantly agrees to notify the commander of the H. M. S. Spitfire, which is on her way to Levuka. The Spitfire's lieutenant and a party of men are sent to bring him back, but the lieutenant knows Barcom's story and has other intentions.