This is book number four in the series. Ben and Tom are assigned to man a bomb boat and take part in a land assault on St. Elmo’s Castle. When Captain Troubridge decides to test the strength of the French in Rome, he is amazed to find that the French are sick of the place and ready to give it up. Their commandante is willing to put Rome up as the prize for a game of cards. Troubridge wins and leaves Ben in charge of the city while he goes back aboard ship. Ben is severely challenged and cannot wait to get back to sea.
Ben’s friend, Tom Murphy, has failed the leftenant’s exam several times and is petrified when he learn that he must take the exam again. Ben spends endless hours coaching him so that he can pass. Tom takes the exam yet again and almost fails when two of the captains who are his examiners get into an argument. Then the two friends are off to Quiberon Bay which proves to be a disaster for the English. There is another senseless escapade at Killala Bay with a failed French attack on Ireland. Ben is assigned to another of the Admiralty’s schemes which backfires when some spies kill the nobles that he is supposed to rescue and put Ben and his men in a French prison. His medical knowledge saves him and his crew.
Ben’s next assignment is the Panama jungle. He and his men are supposed to intercept a Spanish treasure shipment out of Panama City. He gets the treasure but only after rescuing it from a sunken ship. His captain is less than competent and manages to run their ship aground on a Caribbean island that is mostly uninhabited. There are a few cannibals there who have escaped from a slave ship and are now desperate for food. Ben and his crew must move quickly and safely to avoid being killed and put on the fires to roast.
Ben finds that rescuing two noble English women from a Spanish ship is more challenging than any open sea battle he has endured. When the British fleet anchored in Carlisle Bay is threatened by a fire ship, Ben and his men are sent off to find out who is responsible. He ends up spying on some natives on a small island and learning the language of the native drums. Ben is getting some coverage in the London newspapers for his daring exploits. Someone in London is reading of his adventures.
reference: Quiberon Bay