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The Daily Aubrey-Maturin: The Fortune of War (Book 6), Chapters 7-9 (pg. 2090-2196)

Your daily dose of off-topic shenanigans

‘Chesapeake and Shannon’, 1812 (c1850s).
Engagement between the English frigate ‘Shannon’ and the American ‘Chesapeake’ during the War of 1812. Colour plate taken from the book Pictures of English History, George Routledge And Sons, (London, New York, c1850).
Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images


Maturin begins to suspect that the reason they are being kept so long and not exchanged isn’t due to Aubrey but in fact due to he himself being suspected of spying. And he is indeed proven correct when a couple French agents try to nab him. He fights off the first kidnapping attempt and is then able to dispatch both agents on the second.

But obviously, their position has become untenable and they must figure out a way to escape. Johnson, Diana’s beau turns out to have not been friendly at all either, though that probably has something also to do with him learning of Stephen’s latest marriage proposal to Diana and Diana claiming to actually be ready to say yes this time. Fool me once, no? Apparently not.


Fortunately, Herapath is still a friend, and with his (and his father’s) help. Aubrey is able to spring Stephen & Diana out of their hotel, from right under the French agents’ noses. Not quite the mission:impossible of Menorca from a few books ago, but still quite the caper. They hide in one of Herapath Sr’s ships overnight, then slip away on a fishing boat with the rest of the morning crowd, and are able to reach one of the ships blockading the Boston harbor, the HMS Shannon, commanded by Captain Broke, a good friend and cousin of Aubrey’s. He welcomes them with great cheer and impresses Aubrey especially with some excellent gunnery target practice by his crew.


Safely aboard the Shannon, Aubrey, Maturin, and Diana get front-row seats to the Battle of Boston Harbor, the real life encounter between the HMS Shannon and the USS Chesapeake, which scored the Royal Navy their first major victory against the US in the War of 1812.

Aubrey & Co are peripheral to the action, but serve as potential motivators for the setup of the battle — with the Chesapeake’s decision to come out and challenge the blockade put down to escapee Aubrey’s presence. The Shannon prevails due largely to its excellence in gunnery, and there was much rejoicing.

The Capture of the Chesapeake.
Painting titled ‘The Capture of the Chesapeake by the Shannon’ by Sir J. T. Lee. Coloured aquatint by J. Jeakes. Dated 1813.
Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

And thus, we come to the end of book 6: “The Fortune of War”. Next up, book 7: “The Surgeon’s Mate”.





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