Quote of the Day

‘Dogs,’ said the chaplain, who was not one to leave his corner of the table silent long. ‘That reminds me of a question I had meant to put to you gentlemen. This short watch that is about to come, or rather these two short watches — why are they called dog watches? Where, heu, heu, is the canine connection?’

‘Why,’ said Stephen, ‘it is because they are curtailed, of course.’

A total blank. Stephen gave a faint inward sigh; but he was used to this. ‘Mr Butler, the bottle stands by you,’ said Jack. ‘Mr Lydgate, allow me to help you to a little of the undercut.’

It was the midshipman who first reacted. He whispered to his neighbour Dashwood, ‘He said, cur-tailed: the dog-watch is cur-tailed. Do you twig?’

It was the sort of wretched clench perfectly suited to the company. The spreading merriment, the relish, the thunderous mirth, reached the forecastle, causing amazement and conjecture: Jack leaned back in his chair, wiping the tears from his scarlet face, and cried, ‘Oh, it is the best thing — the best thing. Bless you, Stephen — a glass of wine with you. Mr Simmons, if we dine with the admiral, you must ask me, and I will say, “Why, it is because they have been docked, of course.” No, no. I am out. Cur-tailed — cur-tailed. But I doubt I should ever be able to get it out gravely enough.’

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian

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