Quote of the Day

‘Was you a midshipman in the Surprise, sir?’ cried young Callow, amazed, amazed. If he had thought about it at all, he would have supposed that post-captains sprung fully armed from the forehead of the Admiralty.

‘Indeed I was,’ said Jack.

‘Good heavens, sir, she must be very, very old. The oldest ship in the fleet, I dare say.’

‘Well,’ said Jack, ‘she is pretty old, too. We took her early in the last war – she was the French Unité – and she was no chicken then. Could you manage another egg?’

Callow leapt, jerked almost out of his chair by Pullings’s under-table hint, changed his Yes, sir, if you please to No, sir, thank you very much, and stood up.

HMS Surprise – Patrick O’Brian

Quote of the Day

Surprise!‘ cried Jack again. ‘I have not set foot in her since I was a midshipman.’ He saw her plain, lying there a cable’s length from him in the brilliant sunshine of English Harbour, a trim, beautiful, little eight-and-twenty, French-built witha  bluff bow and lovely lines, weatherly, stiff, a fine sea-boat, fast when she was well-handled, roomy, dry . . . He had sailed in her under a taut captain and an even tauter first lieutenant — had spent hours and hours banished to the masthead — had done most of his reading there — had carved his initials in the cap: were they still to be seen? She was old, to be sure, and called for nursing; but what a ship to command . . . He dismissed the ungrateful thought that there was never a prize to be looked for in the Indian Ocean — swept clear long ago — and said, ‘We could give Agamemnon mainsail and topgallants, sailing on a bowline . . . I shall have the choice of one or two officers, for sure. Shall you come, Pullings?’

‘Why, in course, sir,’ — surprised.

‘Mrs Pullings no objection? No — eh?’

‘Mrs Pullings will pipe her eye, I dare say; but then presently she will brighten up. And I dare say she will be main pleased to see me back again at the end of the commission; more pleased than now is, maybe. I get sadly underfoot, among the brooms and pans. It ain’t like aboard ship, sir, the marriage-state.’

‘Ain’t it, Pullings?’ said Jack looking at him wistfully.

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

‘A gentleman to see you, sir,’ said the waiter. ‘A lieutenant.’

‘A lieutenant?’ said Stephen; and after a pause, ‘Desire him to walk up.’

A thundering on the stairs, as though someone had released a bull; the door burst inwards, trembling, and Pullings appeared, lighting up the room with his happiness and his new blue coat. ‘I’m made, sir,’ he cried, seizing Stephen’s hand. ‘Made at last! My commission came down with the mail. Oh, wish me joy!’

‘Why, so I do,’ said Stephen, wincing in that iron grip, ‘if more joy you can contain — if more felicity will not make your cup overflow. Have you been drinking, Lieutenant Pullings? Pray sit in a chair like a rational being, and do not spring about the room.’

‘Oh, say it again, sir,’ said the lieutenant, sitting and gazing at Stephen with pure love beaming from his face. ‘Not a drop.’

‘Then it is with present happiness you are drunk. Well. Long, long may it last.’

‘Ha, ha, ha! That is exactly what Parker said. “Long may it last,” says he; but envious, like, you know — the grey old toad. Howsomever, I dare say even I might grow a trifle sour, or rancid, like, five and thirty years without a ship of my own, and this cruel fitting-out. And he is a good, righteous man, I am sure; though he was a proper pixy-led before the captain came.’

‘Lieutenant, will you drink a glass of wine, a glass of sherry-wine?’

‘You’ve said it again, sir,’ cried Pullings, with another burst of effulgence. (‘You would swear that light actually emanated from that face,’ observed Stephen privately.)

Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian