Life on board the ship is dominated by the divisions between the first lieutenant Summers and the upstart Mr Benet. Edmund Talbot favours the first and is keen to try and delay any attempt to rebuild the main mast using burning iron – presumably the reason for the title.
In the meantime Talbot moves back into the hutch that has already been the location for the deaths of the parson Colley and his steward. He moves because of the comments made by fellow passengers who accuse him of being too cosy with the officers.
The only other break in the concentration on the debate about the main mast and the likelihood of the boat sinking is the marriage of two of the passengers. Talbot is called onto be a witness to the ceremony of two people he doesn’t care a great deal for.
Not a great deal happens in these books but you do feel that it is a passage from innocent and sheltered youth to something more substantial for Talbot who is continually making mistakes and overstepping the mark because of arrogance and ignorance.
More next week…