• Lieutenant Hornblower is commander of HM Sloop Hotspur and has just completed a two-year tour of duty.
• Hotspur's primary function is to serve as the forward lookout for the Channel fleet.
• The Channel fleet blockades a French squadron in the harbor of Brest.
• Hornblower has drilled Hotspur's crew into an efficient mechanism.
• Hornblower has come to heavily rely upon his good friend and Hotspur's lieutenant, William Bush.
• Hornblower surrenders command to his replacement, James Percival Meadows.
• Meadows appears competent, if slightly cocksure.
• Meadows reads his orders and assumes command.
• Hornblower introduces Meadows to Bush and executes the formalities of command change.
• Hornblower crosses over to the Princess and informs her captain, Baddlestone, that Hornblower has been ordered to seek passage to England upon the hoy.
• Baddlestone surprises Hornblower by demanding a considerable sum for provisions on the voyage.
• Hornblower is confused about such technical matters and agrees...
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