News reaches Jack quickly of Pym’s & Clonfert’s horrendous defeat. He hopes that the fort has not yet fallen so jumps aboard the Boadicea and makes the short journey from Réunion, only to find that the fort has now fallen already. To make matters worse, the French had intercepted a resupply ship from India as well, and are busy at work in repairing their ships with the supplies intended for the Royal Navy. It just keeps getting worse!
Aubrey tries to draw out a ship or two, but the French admiral, Hamelin, rightly sees strength in numbers and doesn’t fall for any ruse or trap.
Back at home base, Aubrey finally has some good news: Pullings has gotten some guns and men for the transport Emma and can join the fight. Even better, (flogging-happy) Corbett’s back and with a lovely ship that he received as reward for being the messenger of their initial victory.
But Corbett goes all Leeroy Jenkins when they spot a couple French ships, ditches Aubrey and gets his ship all busted up. Once together, the Boadicea and the transports can drive off the French and at least get Corbett’s ship back (sans Corbett himself, who, we learn later, was probably shot and thrown overboard by his own crew amid the initial fighting).
This minor victory has Jack convinced that the tide has turned. The French may have the numbers, but they lack moral conviction, or some such. Colonel Keating (who commands the ground forces) shares in Aubrey’s confidence, and Maturin has no reason to doubt his friend either — especially after he receives intel that the French are still down a few ships for a couple more weeks due to refitting, and that two of their other ships, including Hamelin’s flagship have ranged out from port to attack a British frigate, the Bombay, on its way from India to reinforce Aubrey.
Aubrey springs into action, loaded to the gills with ammunition and men from Corbett’s former ship to help board the enemy. The plan is to capture at least one of the French ships, ideally, in addition to getting the Bombay safely to port.
And of course things go exactly to plan, with the added benefit of the captured ship being the Vénus, the French flagship, with Hamelin himself fallen during the battle (though in real life he was just captured and exchanged and would live for another 50 years.)
Now the tide has truly turned. Like a proverbial six-pointer in league play, Aubrey’s gained two ships in the space of one skirmish, while the French lost two at the same time. With the others still in port and not quite ready, the time is now to press home this advantage. Keating’s itching for a fight, Maturin’s doing more propaganda work behind enemy lines, and Aubrey’s devising his master plan.
And then Admiral Bertie shows up with an entire fleet to take all the glory with a tap-in. Womp, womp, womp. The battle is won easily. Clonfert succumbs to his wounds.
But hey, at least Aubrey learns that he now has a son as well, and that his next assignment is to return home to England.
And thus, we come to the end of book 4: “The Mauritius Command”. Next up, book 5: “Desolation Island”. Sounds ominous!