Hell at Sea, Volume Two: "Post Captain"
When we last left our boys, Aubrey was being court-martialed for getting his boat sunk out from underneath him. It is illegal to be a fucking unlucky jerk in the Royal Nabby, but Aubrey's officers came to his rescue and bailed him out of the stockade with their testimony. He got off, but he now finds himself boatless, bored, restlessly wealthy, and then -- AND THEN -- wouldn't you know it, but PEACE breaks out!

The Peace of Amiens. We all know what that means. Pitt's little vacation. Time to reflect, fight some duels, and have some natural children before getting back to the fight. But Jack doesn't know that. Jack doesn't read history! This treaty could be permanent.

Oh Christ, oh hell: peace! What are you supposed to do during peace? You can't get promoted, you can't take any prizes, all you can do is sit around in your best uniform chewing on peat and smoking khat, waiting to die. And Aubrey's not even posted Captain -- there's no guarantee he'll ever get another command again.

For lack of anything better to do, Aubrey and his steward decide to rent a nice country house and just relax -- kicking back and soaking up the comforts of Merry Old E until the guns start blazing again. Aubrey's been at sea for a hell of a long time -- almost his whole life. What's Merry Old E even about these days?

Vast the mainmast, England has become a prison of drawing-rooms -- a nest of Jane Austen-style marriage plots entangling all eligible bachelors into farcical lives of whist, barcaroles, and polite handjobs inside gazebos to keep them from the needs of war!

Baby, you know it as "Pride and Prejudice." It's a death match: Dowdy Jane versus Lucky Jack! Oh Christ, oh hell: what lee shore is this? Are our boys doomed forever to end up dry-docked on land, seduced by every available female in the country, constantly repainting the fence of their frowzy country house to keep them in shape for a ship that will never come?

On shore, and in between games of blind-man's buff, Lucky Jack begins boning not just one, but TWO, of England's most available ladies. The first is Sophia Williams, who he calls "Sophie" (like his first boat -- a romantic gesture) and the second is her cousin Diana Villiers, the Anglo world's most seductive horseback-riding minx, and the buxom Veronica to Sophie's unfortunate Betty.

But then there's a hilarious problem: Stephen has started boning Diana, too! Farce! Gentlemen, let's be civil: you can't double up every night and still look at each other across your port and buns every morning. She's got to decide between the two of you. Who will it be?

Since Jack has two women, Stephen thinks it is unfair of him not to share. But Jack doesn't think that way, does he? When there are two dismasted merchantmen lying to and striking their colors, you always find a way to take them both. That's just called SAILING.

Before Jack can make a decision, and before Dr. Maturin can poison Jack to death with arsenic, Jack's commission comes in: perfect timing too, since Jack has lost all his money to a failed bank. Jack's out of the sex race, but must be smuggled aboard his ship or end up in a debtor's prison.

(Seeya, Steve! Keep those ladies warm for me, ho ho!)

(I will, Jack. I'll keep them warm by pressing my tremendous mental penis lovingly to each of their powdered, pouting faces.)

Stephen has become something of a celebrity in spy circles, and so he has a few one-on-one meetings with Sir Joseph Blaine, England's hapless spymaster, an old fart and beetle enthusiast. They talk shop. They talk government overthrow, Catalan, and bugs. Plans are made.

And then, before Stephen can swoop away with Diana, word comes that Jack has been busted by the French, and that Stephen must go to the rescue. I won't ruin this for you, but I WILL tell you that Jack ends up traveling around Europe for several months disguised in a makeshift bear suit, sweating his fat off in thick ropes of salt while Stephen laughs and tells him morals.

I guess I did ruin it for you.

They escape and finally get themselves a ship: the Polychrest, which is the Navy's joke-ship. It's got some sort of two-part hull so that it can launch a flaming torpedo, except that the torpedo doesn't work, so it just fucking sucks. Still, Aubrey wins an engagement with it and gets posted Captain due to his impressive sea-cunning.

During all this, the situation between Stephen and Jack regarding Diana comes to a head and they agree to fight a duel.

Some citizens worry about the martial aptitude of our beloved doctor, but they don't know him like we do.

"So do you know anything about dueling, Doctor?" asks Lieutenant Pullings, nervous.

"Sure," said Maturin. "I have killed forty -- maybe fifty men -- in duels. It's sort of my hobby, killing men. I have a bit of a temper, you see."

He pulls out his gold-plated dueling pistols and blows out candle flames at a hundred paces. Aubrey throws up all over himself.

Anyway, the duel is soon forgotten when a one-shot chance to keep Spain from entering the war presents itself. Gold ships! Jack takes command of the HMS Lively and goes to hunt down four ships full of gold -- payola for the Spanish. If the gold ships make it to Spain, all is lost. If not, the Britons stand a chance in the coming war.

The most important thing we learn from "Post Captain": Stephen Maturin would fucking EAT Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy. He would out-brood him, out-scowl him, and then stab him in the heart with a rapier, tear his arms off, and then eat him. And then he would write a delightful monograph about the circulatory system based upon his observations of the last moments of a "man of wealth and discrimination," compleat with divers illustrations.

Posted by miracle on Fri, 14 Mar 2008 17:51:52 -0400 -- permanent link

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