‘Jack,’ said he, walking into the cabin, ‘what are you at?’
‘I am trying to get this God-damned plant to stand upright. Do what I may, they keep wilting. I water them before breakfast and again in the last dog-watch, and still they wilt. Upon my word, it is too bad.’
‘What do you water them with?’
‘The best water, straight from the scuttle-butt.’
‘If you anoint them with the vile concoction we drink and wash in, of course they will wilt. You must send ashore for some rain-water; and at that rate of watering, some aquatic plants.’
‘What an admirable notion, Stephen. I shall do so at once. Thank you. But apart from these poxed vegetables, don’t you think it looks tolerably well? Comfortable? Homelike? The gunner’s wife said she had never seen the like: all she could suggest was somewhere to hang their clothes, and a pincushion.’
The cabin resembled a cross between a brothel and an undertaker’s parlour, but Stephen only said that he agreed with Mrs Armstrong and suggested that it might be a little less like a state funeral if the tubs were not quite so rigidly arranged about each cot.
Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian