The Luckless Leftenant Rundel
This is the third book in the Rundel series. Ben and his friend, Tom Murphy, have just come aboard the Agamemnon. Ben is sent off by Commodore Nelson to ward off the French at Bantry Bay. Ben returns to help his ship navigate through the Spanish fleet in a heavy fog and later fights at the battle of Cabo do Sao Vincent.
Ben, who is an orphan, is the young no-one-from nowhere in the navy and is given several difficult assignments that would have embarrassed prominent families had their heirs failed. Ben has no family to embarrass. Ben fights in the Battle at Tenerife where Lord Nelson loses his right arm. Ben is sent to London from Portsmouth to deliver the news of the victory, but manages to get a trick horse to ride. Ben, who grew up in an orphanage, has never ridden a horse before and experiences great difficulty with the beast.
Then Ben is assigned to the battle at Camperdown where his captain panics and flees the battle. Ben takes the helm and puts the unfortunate captain under arrest. He suffers for his actions later when, after surviving the court martial, the captain’s family, which is influential, has Ben assigned to a ship whose crew really did mutiny.
Fortunately, Ben has won the crew’s confidence. When they mutiny they agree to spare his life if he will take them to the Spanish Maine. He does and manages to escape, returning to Barbados almost dead. Ben is sent home to recover. Then he is ordered to return to Lord Nelson’s ship for the battle of Aboukir Bay. He and Tom suffer through one of the worst sea battles in history and watch the huge warship L’Orient blow up.
After Aboukir Bay, Ben is assigned as scribe to Lord Nelson who has lost his right hand. Ben sees first hand the affair developing between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton and is torn apart by what he sees as the weakness of his one great hero. Thomas Hardy, then a captain, comes to Ben’s rescue and helps him through a difficult time. Ben spends a short time as a spy in Egypt seeking the fate of Napoleon’s thousands of soldiers who were abandoned by their leader after the Battle of the Nile.
This book is strong with history and adventure as Tom and Ben experience the four famous sea battles as they are known to have happened. Amidst all of the action, there is a love story emerging.
reference: Battle of Aboukir Bay