Quote of the Day

Jack was about to utter some softening remark when Killick appeared again.

‘Coffee’s up, sir,’ he said crossly; and as Jack hurried into his cabin he heard the words ‘stone cold now — on the table since six bells — told ‘im again and again — enough trouble to get it, and now it’s left to go cold.’ They seemed to be addressed to the Marine sentry, whose look of shocked horror, of refusal to hear or participate in any way, was in exact proportion to the respect, even the awe, in which Jack was held in the ship.

In point of fact the coffee was still so hot that it almost burnt his mouth. ‘Prime coffee, Killick, he said, after the first pot. A surly grunt, and without turning round Killick said, ‘I suppose you’ll be wanting another ‘ole pot, sir.’

Hot and strong, how well it went down! A pleasurable activity began to creep into his dull, torpid mind. He hummed a piece of Figaro, breaking off to butter a fresh piece of toast. Killick was a cross-grained bastard, who supposed that if he sprinkled his discourse with a good many sirs, the words in between did not signify: but still he had procured this coffee, these eggs, this butter, this soft tack, on shore and had put them on the table the morning after a hot engagement — ship still cleared for action and the galley knocked sideways by the fire from Cape Béar. Jack had known Killick ever since his first command, and as he had risen in rank so Killick’s sullen independence had increased; he was angrier than usual now because Jack had wrecked his number three uniform and lost one of his gloves: ‘Coat torn in five places — cutlass slash in the forearm which how can I ever darn that? Bullet ‘ole all singed, never get the powder-marks out. Breeches all a-hoo, and all this nasty blood everywhere, like you’d been a-wallowing in a lay-stall, sir. What MIss would say, I don’t know, sir. God strike me blind. Epaulette ‘acked, fair ‘acked to pieces. (Jesus, what a life.)’

HMS Surprise – Patrick O’Brian

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