HMS Startler is on patrol up the Parang River in the Malay peninsula. On board are the midshipman, Bob Roberts, and the ensign, Tom Long. Their friendly bickering goes on throughout the book. Various tropical indispositions trouble them, and also of course the insect life in the air and saurian life in the river is of no help. It is hard to know which of the natives are on their side, and which not, and there is a great deal of two-facedness. We are introduced to various fruits. A soldier on their own side is prone to fall asleep when on sentry duty, and the little fort they build to give the womenfolk a little more room than aboard ship, is very nearly captured and destroyed.
There are various trips for fishing and shooting purposes, and we learn a great deal about the natural history of the area while these expeditions are in progress. One of the reasons why some of the natives do not like the British Protectorate is that normally any traffic passing up and down the river does so only on payment of a toll to the local chieftains, who in turn are at loggerheads with each other in dispute of the right to exact tolls.
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1883