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|Ch.12: The Captain on the Cobb.
Written by Rachel G
(10/13/2011 10:19 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Frederick Wentworth (very, very long), penned by gianni
Bravo! A standing ovation from me for that post Gianni - it is very helpful and instructive to 'read' the story from Frederick's point of view.
I have often wondered at his immediate response to Louisa's accident. His apparent dithering seems strangely at odds with the sort of decisiveness one would expect from a successful Naval Captain well accustomed to emergencies and sudden injury.
But at sea there is an established chain of command, individual responsibilities are clear, and casualties are not unexpected. In battle the priorities are clear - defeat the enemy, keep the ship afloat, wounded below decks to the surgeon, nothing can be done for the dead.
The situation on the Cobb is quite different - no chain of command, no established procedures for a predictable crisis. And this is not one of his crew of men at war. This is a cheerful stroll in the sunshine when the smiling girl, flirtatiously larking about with him, suddenly falls dead at his feet. It is an unexpected moment of utter horror for everyone, but for him even more than the others.
Detachment is impossible for him. Whatever his feelings for Louisa, as a woman she is entitled to "every personal comfort" (ch.8) and to his protection. And she's not just any woman, but one he's been flirting with for weeks. He has been jumping her down from stiles, encouraged her firmness of mind and headstrong behaviour, and he failed to catch her when she fell! He is complicit, responsible even, for her death or injury, and he must account to he parents for what has befallen her. I think all this and more would have been among the thousand feelings rushing in on him there on the Cobb with no one to help him.
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