In the fictional town of Sharples, whose only shipyard has just closed, he is taken ill and admitted to hospital, where he is mistaken for one of the unemployed. After a successful operation, and a burgeoning friendship with Alice, the hospital’s almoner, he takes stock of the local situation, and resolves to use his wealth to help the community. Knowing that the shipyard is for sale at a knockdown price, he buys it secretly, but finds that he can only attract business from a dubious oil-rich Balkan state, in need of tankers. To float the new company, Warren must sign a prospectus, declaring falsely that the yard is well-placed to make a profit. But when the oil-state suffers a revolution, its business is lost, and the only way to save the yard is for Warren to take personal responsibility for the deception, earning him two years’ jail.