• Aubrey has been dismissed from the Royal Navy for financial impropriety.
• Though he was not involved in the crime, he was nevertheless found guilty.
• Aubrey is deeply depressed, penniless and faces an uncertain future.
• His friend, Maturin, purchases a ship, the Surprise from the Royal Navy.
• Maturin is a devoted and recognized naturalist and works for the British Naval Intelligence service as an intelligence officer.
• Maturin is wealthy though he cares little for money and has obtained a letter of Marque for his vessel.
• The letter will enable Maturin to run his ship as a privateer. He has it refitted in Shelmerston.
• Aubrey is surprised at how rapidly Surprise is provisioned and repaired, being used to government inefficiency.
• Aubrey has a reputation as a good captain and a lucky sailor so he has his choice of crew members.
• He has at least four individuals with him who...
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