1905. The book begins: John Harrold walked to the rail of the steamer and stood looking thoughtfully into the green waves. He was quite sure that the woman within the cabin was the most attractive he had ever seen. Each of his acquaintances on board was struck by her beauty and had spoken of it. There was something in her soft voice, something in her deep eyes, something in the repressed confidence which she appeared at times to give him and then withdraw, that irresistibly appealed to him. She possessed for him a fascination of manner and speech, as of person, combining with a certain foreign charm the native grace of his own country.