THE HAPPY RETURN BY: C.S. FORESTER
THE HAPPY RETURN BY: C.S. FORESTER
The Happy Return (Beat to Quarters in the US) is the first of the Horatio Hornblower novels by C. S. Forester. It was published in 1937. The American title is derived from the expression "beat to quarters", which was the signal to prepare for combat. This book is sixth by internal chronology of the series (including the unfinished Hornblower and the Crisis). Hornblower's past history as described here does not entirely accord with his history as revealed in the stories written later, but Forester never revised the book. It is one of three Hornblower novels adapted for the British-American film Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., released in 1951.
In June 1808 Hornblower is in command of the 36-gun frigate HMS Lydia, with secret orders to sail to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua (near modern Choluteca, Choluteca) and supply a local landowner, Don Julian Alvarado ("descendant" of Pedro de Alvarado by a fictional marriage to a daughter of Moctezuma), with muskets and powder. Don Julian is ready to revolt against the Spanish. Upon meeting Don Julian Hornblower discovers that he is a megalomaniac who calls himself "El Supremo" (which Forester translates as "the Almighty"), views himself as a deity, and has been killing those who he regards as "unenlightened" because they do not recognise El Supremo's divine status. El Supremo claims to be a descendant of Moctezuma, the holy god-made-man of the Aztecs, and also of Pedro de Alvarado, one of the Spanish invaders of Mexico.
While Hornblower replenishes his supplies the 50-gun Spanish ship Natividad is sighted off the coast. Unwilling to risk fighting the much more powerful ship in a sea battle, Hornblower hides nearby until it anchors and then captures it in a surprise nighttime boarding. El Supremo demands that it be turned over to him so that he may have a navy. After hiding the captured Spanish officers to save them from being murdered by El Supremo, Hornblower, needing his ally's cooperation, has no choice but to accede.
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