The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: The Mauritius Command (Book 4), Chapters 1-3 (pages 1249-1353)

Chapter 1

The last book culminated in the Hollywood End of Captain Jack Aubrey and Sweet Sophie, and they lived happily ever after in a cute little cottage, with a nice little garden, with two ragtags running around, etc etc.

“Reality” didn’t quite live up to Jack’s imagination, not at all. He is unhappy, she is unhappy, his garden is devoured by parasites, his cow refuses to give milk, and his terrible mother-in-law lives with them. He has twins, both girls. They are more than just a handful. Their little niece also lives with them for unexplained reasons. It’s dangerous. His salary is late and insufficient. His only escape is the telescope with which he spies the stars by night and the port by day.

Saved by this middle-aged malaise, Stephen comes on a visit and with news of a special mission: the French continue to harass Indian Ocean shipping from their base at Mauritius and Réunion. Aubrey is supposed to lead a squadron of ships not only to stop them but ideally to destroy them as well. Spoiler alert: Mauritius moved in 1810 from France to Britain. Based on a true storyas the author’s note in the introduction says, albeit not in many words.

was assigned to lead HMS bodhisattva (Cue Enya!), whose usual captain fell ill. Aubrey briefly wonders if Maturin had some role in this lucky development somehow. He’s a super agent after all, who knows how much his friend suffers on dry land.

Chapter 2

They make their way south to Cape Town – South Africa reverted to British control in 1806 – where this particular squadron is supposed to congregate. It’s a long journey, full of familiar tunes: another ship’s crew gets into shape, teaches them how to shoot guns, how to paddle properly, how to live at sea, how to deal with routine, boredom, alcohol and power.

Along the way, they chased down a French frigate and captured its prize, a blessing in terms of money back home and in terms of good food and wine for the next voyage.

Aubrey returns to his element, both literally and figuratively.

Chapter 3

At Cape, Aubrey reports to the Admiral’s Port, which gives him the position of brigadier general for the next expedition. It’s not really an “upgrade” but it does give him command of all the ships (and other captains) in the squadron. Moven’ on up!

Unfortunately, it’s a clumsy group, this band. Aubrey moves on to major, and Reasonable, an old ship of the line barely holds up (it can’t sail during monsoon season, for example). Captain Beam is a sailor as strong as his frigate Sirius. Aubrey doesn’t like more than 3 Pyms, because just like 11 Azpilicuetas, with 3 Pyms he can win everything. The other frigate NEED He is captained by the ruthless Corbet, who loves everyone’s skin and can’t keep a crew (and he wonders why). The other ship is beavera small sailing ship, piloted by Lord Clonvert, whom Jack knows to be an all-talking coward doing nothing.

We have to go back!

Nelson's first staging post in the Navy, Chatham, 1771.

Nelson’s first staging post in the Navy, Chatham, 1771
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