Told in flashback, the film opens on a brutal scene of a 17-year-old boy, Francis Andrews, being brutally lashed during a police interrogation in which the boy thinks back to the past that placed him in this situation. He betrayed the crew of a smuggling ship whose master, Richard Carlyon, was also his guardian. Some of the smugglers are caught, but Carlyon escapes and then begins his search for Andrews. Carlyon was quiet fond of the boy but knew him for a coward. Andrews seeks refuge in in the cottage of a girl named Elizabeth, who urges him to give testimony against the smugglers in court. He summons his courage and does so. Carlyon, catching up with Andrews, recognizes this as an act of courage, and does not take revenge on him. Carlyon is eventually caught, but despite the police torture, Andrews does not identify him, and he goes free while his guardian faces the gallows. (The original-British-released version runs about 20 minutes longer than the "default" ---actually USA--- time shown on site.)
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