Michael Herapath

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Michael Herapath was a fictional character appearing in the Patrick O'Brian novels Desolation Island and The Fortune of War.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Desolation Island and The Fortune of War"  follow.

Herapath makes his initial appearance as a stowaway aboard HMS Leopard, commanded by Jack Aubrey in Desolation Island. His presence aboard the Leopard is discovered some days or weeks after the ship's departure from home waters on a voyage to Austrailia via the Cape of Good Hope. An obviously educated man of American birth, Herapath is nonetheless entered into the ship's books as a lower-deck sailor, where he is assigned to mess with Aubrey's coxswain Barret Bonden and others.

After an outbreak of gaol fever kills a substantial portion of the ship's crew, including surgeon's mate Paul Martin, Herapath becomes the acting surgeon's mate under the direction of Stephen Maturin, the Leopard's surgeon. It is in this context that Maturin becomes more intimately acquainted with Herapath. Herapath confides in Maturin that he had stowed away so he could continue his relationship with Louisa Wogan, a female convict and an American spy being transported to the penal colony in New South Wales aboard the Leopard.

Stephen Maturin, exploiting Herapath's blind devotion to Wogan, manipulates the unwitting Herapath into delivering a large volume of intentionally erroneous intelligence to Wogan, who, as Maturin confidently expected, later delivers the poisoned intelligence to her chief. Herapath either never becomes aware of this manipulation by Maturin, or does not care, since he willingly assists in Aubrey's and Maturin's subsequent escape from American captivity in The Fortune of War.

Herapath does not appear in the series again after The Fortune of War, but O'Brian alludes to him in Blue at the Mizzen, when the surgeon of the American frigate USN Delaware tells Maturin about the success of both Herapath's medical studies and his book.

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