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

Quote of the Day

He went below, noticed the smell of midshipment in the fore-cabin, walked through into the after-cabin, and found himself in total darkness.

‘Close the door,’ cried Stephen, swarming past him and clapping it to.

‘What’s amiss?’ asked Jack, whose mind had moved so deep into naval life that he had forgotten the bees, as he might have forgotten even a vivid nightmare.

‘They are remarkably adaptable — perhaps the most adaptable of all social insects,’ said Stephen, from another part of the cabin. ‘We find them from Norway to the burning wastes of the Sahara; but they have not grown quite used to their surroundings yet.’

‘Oh God,’ said Jack, scrabbling for the handle. ‘Are they all out?’

‘Not at all,’ said Stephen. ‘And learning from Killick that you expected guests, I conceived you might prefer them away. There is so much ignorant prejudice against bees in a dining-room.’ Something was crawling on Jack’s neck; the door had completely vanished; he began to sweat heavily. ‘So I though to create an artificial night, when, in the course of nature, they return to their hive. I also made three fires for the sake of the smoke: these did not have the desired effect, however. It may be that the darkness is too complete. Let us compromise with a twilight — dark, but not too dark.’ He raised a corner of sailcloth, and a beam of sun showed an incalculable number of bees on every vertical surface and on most of those that were flat; bees flying in a jerky, meaningless fashion from point to point; fifty or so sitting on his coat and breeches. ‘There,’ said Stephen, ‘that is far, far better is it not? Urge them to mount on your finger, Jack, and carry them back to their hive. Gently, gently, and on no account exhibit, or even feel, the least uneasiness: fear is wholly fatal, as I dare say you know.’

Jack had the door-handle; he opened it a crack and glided swiftly through. ‘Killick!’ he shouted, beating at his clothes.


‘Go and help the Doctor. Bear a hand, now.’

‘I dursn’t,’ said Killick.

‘You don’t mean to tell me you are afraid, a man-of-war’s man?’

‘Yes I am, sir,’ said Killick.

‘Well, clear the fore-cabin and lay the cloth there. And uncork a dozen of claret.’ He plunged into his sleeping-cabin and tore off his stock — there was something creeping beneath it.

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

Killick was moving about the room, making an unnecessary noise, kicking things not altogether by accident, cursing steadily. He was in a vile temper: he could be smelt from the pillow. Jack had given him a guinea to drink his swab, and he had done so conscientiously, down to the last penny, being brought home on a shutter. ‘Now sir,’ he said, coughing artificially. ‘Time for this here bolus.’ Jack slept on. ‘It’s no good coming it the Abraham, sir. I seen you twitch. Down it must go. Post-captain or no post-captain,’ he added, possibly to himself, ‘you’ll post it down, my lord, or I’ll know the reason why. And your nice porter, too.’

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

Killick had spent little of his life ashore, and most of that little in an amphibious village in the Essex mud; but he was fly; he knew a great deal about landsmen, most of whom were crimps, pickpockets, whores, or officials of the Sick and Hurt office, and he could tell a gum a mile off. He saw them everywhere. He was the worst possible companion for a weak, reduced, anxious debtor that could be well found, the more so in his absolute copper-bottomed certainty of being a right deep file, no sort or kind of a flat, and carried a certain conviction. By way of a ruse de guerre he had somehow acquired a clergyman’s hat, and this, combined with his earrings, his yard of pigtail, his watchet-blue jacket with brass buttons, his white trousers and low silver-buckled shoes, succeeded so well that several customers followed him from the tap-room to gaze while he leaned in and said to Jack, ‘It’s no go, sir. I seen some slang coves in the tap. You’ll have to drink it in the shay. What’ll it be, sir? Dog’s nose? Flip? Come, sir,’ he said, with the authority of the well over the sick in their care, or even out of it, ‘What’ll it be? For down it must go, or it will miss the tide.’ Jack thought he would like a little sherry. ‘Oh no, sir. No wine. The doctor said, No wine. Porter is more the mark.’ He brought back sherry — had been obliged to call for wine, it being a shay — and a mug of porter; drank the sherry, gave back change as he saw fit, and watched the bolts go gasping, retching down, helped by the porter. ‘That’s thundering good physic,’ he said. ‘Drive on, mate.’

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

‘Killick,’ he cried, folding and sealing it. ‘That’s for the post. Is the Doctor ready?’

‘Ready and waiting these fourteen minutes,’ said Stephen in a loud, sour voice. ‘What a wretched tedious slow hand you are with a pen, upon my soul. Scratch-scratch, gasp-gasp. You might have written the Iliad in half the time, and a commentary upon it, too.’

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

‘I said, “Did you bump your head, sir?” ‘
‘Yes,’ said Stephen, looking at his hand: astonishingly it was not covered with blood — there was not even so much as a smear.
‘It’s these old beams, sir’ — in the unusually distinct, didactic voice used at sea for the landsmen and on land for half-wits — ‘You want to take care of them; for — they — are — very — low.’ Stephen’s look of pure malevolence recalled the steward to a sense of his message and he said, ‘Could you fancy a chop or two for breakfast, sir?’

Master and Commander – J.K. Rowling