Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Captain Horatio Hornblower, the commander of the thirty-six-gun frigate HMS Lydia, is sailing under sealed orders from England around the Horn to the Gulf of Fonseca on the western shores of Spanish America. He was ordered to form an alliance with Don Julian Alvarado, a large landowner, and assist in raising a rebellion against Spain. The Lydia carries the necessary munitions with which to start the revolution. In addition, Hornblower has fifty thousand guineas in gold, which he is to give for the support of the rebellion only if the revolt threatens to fail without English gold to back it. If he does otherwise, he will be court-martialed. His orders also casually mention the presence in Pacific waters of a fifty-gun Spanish ship called the Natividad, which he is ordered to take, sink, burn, or destroy at the first opportunity.
After the Lydia anchors in the Gulf of Fonseca, a small boat appears with emissaries from Don Julian, who now calls himself El Supremo. They tell Hornblower that El Supremo requires the captain’s attendance. Hornblower is not pleased with the evidence of El Supremo’s tyranny. What he observes makes him all the more cautious. He refuses to hand over to El Supremo the arms and ammunition until his ship takes on food and water. The ship is loaded with stores as rapidly as possible, and the operation is going forward when a lookout on the mountain announces the approach of the...
(The entire section is 1159 words.)
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