“I knew pretty well what she was before that day;” said he, smiling. “I had no more discoveries to make than you would have as to the fashion and strength of any old pelisse, which you had seen lent about among half your acquaintance ever since you could remember, and which at last, on some very wet day, is lent to yourself. Ah! she was a dear old Asp to me. She did all that I wanted. I knew she would. I knew that we should either go to the bottom together, or that she would be the making of me; and I never had two days of foul weather all the time I was at sea in her; and after taking privateers enough to be very entertaining, I had the good luck in my passage home the next autumn, to fall in with the very French frigate I wanted. I brought her into Plymouth; and here another instance of luck. We had not been six hours in the Sound, when a gale came on, which lasted four days and nights, and which would have done for poor old Asp in half the time; our touch with the Great Nation not having much improved our condition. Four-and-twenty hours later, and I should only have been a gallant Captain Wentworth, in a small paragraph at one corner of the newspapers; and being lost in only a sloop, nobody would have thought about me.” Anne’s shudderings were to herself alone;
I think this passage is pure bravado. This is Austen’s equivalent of a man with arms outstretched saying, “And the fish was this … far from the bank.” Only in a good way.
God has always been merciful to my family and provided inexpensive housing for us. While it’s usually farmhouses that most other won’t live in, He knows I’m not house-proud and willing to live in the country with iffy plumbing, long drives to the grocery store, and no guarantee of timely law enforcement. Some people always have a good job. Frederick Wentworth is one of those guys. Lousy love life, but a great job. And he knows he will always be lucky. That doesn’t mean there won’t be close calls.
I think the closing days of Asp were a close call.
The ship has had great weather, which is good as it’s decrepit by Wentworth’s account. They have good weather for the entire cruise. This doesn’t mean that the Captain didn’t have to outrun storms and hurricanes, but he was a skilled sailor who enjoyed the daylights out of every knot of the chase. The cruise is over and they are heading home. They come across a French frigate that he had been lusting over. They capture it, but not without damage to Asp. A storm hits after they have come into port and Asp sinks.
When a ship sank, there was by regulation, a court martial to ascertain whether the sinking was avoidable and that the captain acted in the most responsible manner. Obviously Frederick was cleared as he is soon assigned a larger ship, Laconia.
Frederick being handsome, intelligent, and not a little bigheaded is confident he will come out on top as he awaits the verdict of the court. But, what if he’s not? Suppose that after a few strong ones, he’s contemplating the past and then commits the Regency version of drunk dialing and writes a letter.
Maybe he was surprised to learn, “I have loved none but you…”