Quote of the Day

‘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

Quote of the Day

‘Stephen,’ he cried, with a meretricious affectation of gaiety, ‘just toss this off, will you, and we will get under way. Is your great-coat warming?’

‘I will not,’ said Stephen. ‘It is another of your damned possets. Am I in childbed, for all love, that I should be plagued, smothered, destroyed with caudle?’

‘Just a sip,’ said Jack. ‘It will set you up for the journey. Mrs Moss does not quite like your travelling; and I must say I agree with her. However, I have brought you a bottle of Dr Mead’s Instant Invigorator; it contains iron. Now just a drop, mixed with the posset.’

‘Mrs Moss – Mrs Moss – Dr Mead – iron, forsooth,’ cried Stephen. ‘There is a very vicious inclination in the present age, to –’

‘Great-coat, sir,’ said Killick. ‘Warm as toast. Now step into it before it gets cold.’

They buttoned him up, tweaked him into shape, and carried him downstairs, one at each elbow, so that his feet skimmed the steps, to where Bonden was waiting by the chaise. They packed him into the stifling warmth with understanding smiles over his head as he cried out that they were stifling him with their God-damned rugs and sheepskins – did they mean to bury him alive? Enough damned straw underfoot for a regiment of horse.

HMS Surprise – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

‘In the name of the law!’ cried the tipstaff again, making a most desperate attempt to break through.

‘Fuck the law,’ cried the seamen, and Bonden, grappling with the bailiff, wrenched the staff from him. He flung it right down the lane, fairly into the water, and said, ‘You’ve lost your commission now, mate. I can hit you now, mate, so you watch out, I say. You watch out, cully, or you’ll come home by Weeping Cross.’

The bailiff uttered a low growl, pulled out his hanger, and hurled himself at Jack. ‘Artful, eh?’ said Bonden, and brought his stretcher down on his head. He fell in the mud, to be trampled upon by Pullings and his friends, pouring out of the inn. At this the gang broke and fled, calling out that they should fetch their friends, the watch, the military, and leaving two of their number stretched upon the ground.

‘Mr Pullings, press those men, if you please,’ cried Jack from the boat. ‘And that fellow in the mud. Two more? Capital. All aboard? Where’s the Doctor? Pass the word for the Doctor. Ah, there you are. Shove off. Altogether, now, give way. Give way cheerly. What a prime hand he will make, to be sure,’ he added in an aside, ‘once he’s used to our ways — a proper bulldog of a man.’

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian


Quote of the Day

He filled his lungs and hailed ‘Polychrest’ in a tone that echoed back from Portsmouth and stopped the mild gossip in the launch stone dead. ‘Polychrest!’

‘Sir?’ came back Bonden’s voice out of the dripping gloom.

‘Double up to the inn, d’ye hear me? Up the lane. Bring your stretchers.’

‘Aye-aye, sir.’

In a moment the launch was empty. Stretchers, the boat’s long wooden footrests, meant a row. The captain was no doubt pressing some hands, and they, pressed men themselves, did not mean to miss a second of the fun.

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian