The crew of the Nutcracker, an early nineteenth-century British vessel, is in the charge of Captain MacGregor, an officer whose passion is his harmonium and rehearsing vocal music with his crew. They set sail with a new instrument on board, only to discover, far from land, that the vessel has sprung a leak. It sinks near a coral island to which the entire crew manages to escape, but sadly the harmonium is lost. The captain is thrilled, however, when sailor Sludgy Meagles manages to retrieve it, and with a few repairs it is made to sound once more. Just in time, for the crew is now set upon by the natives of the island, who are far from friendly. Fortunately they have musical ears, and the sounds of the harmonium inspire them with fear and veneration. They make offerings of gold and jewels. At this point a friendly vessel is sighted, and the crew prepares to sail back to London with the jewellery, leaving the harmonium behind.