Mariner Dances is the story of an abduction – not in the romantic manner of the eighteenth century: no heiress is concerned, and Mariner is not a calculating adventurer. He is a schoolmaster, employed at a lycee in Paris. An egoist, unscrupulous always with the very best of motives. When he abducts Mary, a girl of nineteen, he has no money and no prospects of a job, and he omits to inform her that he has a wife in Paris.
He imposes himself and Mary upon the family of his friend, Fred Paul, who relates the story. As a result of an accident for which Fred blames himself, his sister Gladys has been a cripple from childhood. He feels that he has responsibilities towards her, and at the time of Mariner's invasion is looking for a suitable husband for her.
Mariner's intrusions into this situation and its effect upon Fred and his family, upon his shrewd and patient mother, upon his shrewd and impatient father, and upon Gladys herself supply the theme of the book.