Author's Note: Sorry this took so long. I got swept up in other things and couldn't decide how to end the story. Besides that, if any of you've ever read The Far Side of the World, the series of events at the end are a bit confusing. But this is the end, so I hope it meets your approval. I'm in the process of writing a story about Nagel, so some of you might be looking forward to that.
In the many months that followed, the Surprise found herself in more bad weather, among other things. They passed the Galapagos Islands twice, and presently a good number of her crew found themselves on one of the islands. Faster had only come along to help the poor doctor. He could not be operated on aboard the ship because it was not stable enough. The Surprise departed for some reason Faster wasn't fully aware of and they were all alone on the island, alone but for the American Norfolks on the other side of the stream. The Surprises spent a good deal of their time simply watching the Norfolks from their side of the stream.
"Ugly bunch of Yanks," Killick said at length as they stood there. "Don't they have nothing better to do than watch us all day."
"We could say the same to you," one of them called. "Guess they don't own us no more, do they? Not so brave, are they?" He added nastily, "Dirty English pigs."
After that comment, Nagel grabbed one of his chisels and hurled it at the American, hoping to inflict some real damage. However, he merely succeeded in losing one of his tools.
After dodging the flying chisel, the Norfolk picked it up and used his shirt to wipe the muck off. "Well, thank you," he said. "I'd always wanted a nice chisel like this one." He grinned, showing two rows of dirty, crooked teeth.
"Why don't you go back to your rickety damned ship!" Nagel shouted furiously.
"Brave for a boy who's just lost his chisel--what, are you going to throw something else if I don't?" The American laughed, gaining the support of his fellow shipmates who were also shouting now.
Faster felt himself becoming angrier as the shouting continued. They were all screaming at each other now and only stopped when both captains appeared.
"What's all this yelling about?" cried the captain of the Norfolk. The Americans pointed across the stream at the Surprises. "Are you the captain of these men?" he questioned of Captain Aubrey.
"Yes," the Captain replied. "It seems we're all stuck on this bloody island together. You may call me Jack Aubrey." He bowed slightly, gripping his sword. He peered past the Americans, at the Norfolk. "It seems your ship is in desperate need of repair."
"I would hardly use the term desperate," said the Norfolk captain. "We merely have to repair our mast." He paused. "And a few of the sails need to be…patched up." He cleared his throat. "Though the war is over, Captain, I would much appreciate it if your crew remained on that side of the stream. I promise my men will remain on this side."
Captain Aubrey chuckled. "I would agree to that, sir, but I have heard nothing about the end of the war."
The Norfolk captain looked offended. "Are you calling me a liar?"
"No, no, not at all," Captain Aubrey said quickly, raising his hands to show he meant no harm. "But I cannot take your word for it. All of my orders come from my commanding officer." He turned to the Surprises. "Men, I believe Mr Lamb is in need of your services."
Nagel shot the Americans one last sneering glance before following his fellow carpenters. Faster, who was nothing of the sort, didn't know what to do. The Doctor was most likely resting. Besides that, he wouldn't feel right about bothering Doctor Maturin. Bored, he waited by the stream, occasionally throwing his line in the hopes of catching a fish. To his surprise, one of the Americans engaged him in conversation.
"You know, any day, we'll have another ship," said the American.
"And any day, our ship will come back for us," Faster retorted. He rolled the pole in his hands, ignoring the American.
"Are you catching anything?" he asked. "It's Davis, by the way, Charlie Davis." He extended his hand.
Faster took it, though tentatively. "Michael Doodle." He put the pole aside. "And no, I'm not catching a bloody thing. There's no fish left, nor the like of it, least I can tell."
"That's too bad," Davis replied. "I'll have to tell the men. They're getting anxious for food already."
"I have a feeling it's going to be a while before we get off this island," Faster commented, looking out at the sea.
Several days later, a ship was spotted nearing their island. The Norfolks ran to the water's edge and pushed a group of Surprises hauling equipment to the sandy ground. The Americans cheered enthusiastically and Faster and Nagel watched from the camp.
"I guess this is the end of the mission," Faster said slowly and regretfully.
"Damn Americans always have their way," Nagel sneered. "Where's the Surprise, anyway? They were supposed to be back by now."
"Probably off on some tropical island enjoying the comforts of food and women," Faster replied bitterly. But just then the ship revealed her colors. "It's the Surprise!" Faster cried, starting down the beach.
Nagel was right at his heels. "I knew she'd come--she had to come!"
They all boarded the rowboats with great enthusiasm and the men fought over who rowed, each claiming he could maneuver the oars more quickly. There was a feast waiting for them and plenty of grog to go around. Needless to say, starting their duties in the morning again was very painful to say the least.
"So, what are you going to do when you get back?" Faster asked that night, while lying in his swinging hammock.
Nagel smiled. "I've got a wife and daughter back home, don't I?" he said, chuckling joyfully at the thought. "What about you?"
Faster was silent for a moment, then he said, "I think I'll visit my mother. She's always complaining that I don't see her often enough…You know what mothers are like." He sighed with content and shut his eyes. Well, good-night."