‘Bonden,’ cried Stephen, ‘take pen and ink, and write –’
‘Write, sir?’ cried Bonden.
‘Yes. Sit square to your paper, and write: Landsdowne Crescent – Barret Bonden, are you brought by the lee?’
‘Why, yes, sir; that I am – fair broached-to. Though I can read pretty quick, if in broad print; I can make out a watch-bill.’
‘Never mind. I shall show you the way of it when we are at sea, however: it is no great matter – look at the fools who write all day long – but it is useful, by land. You can ride a horse, sure?’
‘Which I have rid a horse, sir; and three or four times, too, when ashore.’
‘Well. Be so good as to step – to jump – round to the Paragon and let Miss Williams know that if her afternoon walk should chance to lead her by Landsdowne Crescent, she would oblige me infinitely; then to the Saracen’s Head – my compliments to Mr Pullings, and I should be very glad to see him as soon as he has a moment.’
‘Paragon it is, sir, and Saracen’s Head: to proceed to Landsdowne Crescent at once.’
‘You may run, Bonden, if you choose. There is not a moment to be lost.’
The front door banged; feet tearing away left-handed down the crescent, and a long, long pause.
HMS Surprise – Patrick O’Brian