French, Portuguese and British deserters have banded together and taken over the village of Adrados. They are led by 'Marshal Pot au Feu' and Sharpe's old enemy, Obadiah Hakeswill, and they have two En...展开glish women as hostages. Sarah Dubreton, wife of a French officer and Lady Isabella Farthingdale, the Portuguese wife of Sir Augustus Farthingdale.
In Wellington's camp, Sharpe is putting Lt. Gilliland and his rocketeers through their paces. Sir Augustus Farthingdale arrives with the ransom for his wife but is appalled at the idea of Sharpe, raised from the ranks, taking it. Teresa escorts Sharpe and Harper part of the way to Adrados. When they get to the village, they spot two Frenchmen and assume they are deserters. They soon realise it is Sarah Dubreton's husband and his sergeant on the same rescue mission.
The four men finally get to see the hostages, but Hakeswill has increased the ransom, giving Sharpe five days to come up with the extra money or the women will be raped. Dubreton tells Sharpe that Maj. Ducos, Napoleons spy master, has forbidden any extra payment. Sharpe decides to mount a rescue.
Hakeswill escapes to wreak his revenge on Teresa. He is captured by Dubreton and handed over to the British to face justice. Nairn receives information that the French intend to invade Portugal from Adrados and decides to thwart the plan. Sharpe is promoted to Major and given command of the 60th Rifles in order to secure the safety of the women and prevent the French from taking the town.