Life is exhilarating for Captain Jethro Cockerill Penhaligon and luck blows like a bold wind on his cheek. Cocky!--as he's known by his adoring crew, and cocky as Casanova he surely is, bedding Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress, bedding the Duchess of Potenza both before and after killing the Duke in a duel, bedding Clarissa, Rear-Admiral Sir Hubert Campden's daughter, bedding. . . Fortune's favorite, successful at every game on the Mediterranean. When Nelson assigns him the biggest task of all, to sink the 74-gun French ship of the line Gironde, using the 34-gun frigate Avenger, again luck swashes and gusts through Cocky's arteries. It takes three engagements with the giant ship, the third a surprise attack while Gironde is in Barcelona harbor, before he can send his enemy up in flames and scoot hack to bed with Clarissa. First of a series and more loose and lively than many competitors in the pageant of British naval cocksmen.