"Stephen, I believe the coffee stands by you.."
Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin sat in the great cabin of the Surprise. All around them was great commotion as the frigate was being repaired after her latest action. Several spars needed replacing as well as patching some holes created by the 24 lb balls that the Marengo, a French two-decker had fired.
"Does your head still ache Jack dear?" asked Stephen.
Jack patted the thick bandaging around his head.
"No, but it still throbs, that's twice I have been hit by damm splinters now!"
At that moment there was a knock at the door, it opened slightly and the youngest midshipman slipped in.
"Sir" the midshipman squeaked, in a voice which was obviously breaking, "Lieutenant Pullings' watch, and he says the repairs are complete."
"Thankee Mr Scott, tell him I will be up directly."
Preserved Killick, the Captain's steward and Barret Bonden the Captain's Coxwaine sat with the rest of their mess mates eating, seeing as it was Thursday, dried peas and salt pork. The conversation, as it was all over the ship, was the prize money they were to receive for the prize they had just taken.
"How many prizes has Goldilocks taken now?" asked Killick.
"Well, I have followed him these last five years and more and many-a-time have my pockets been filled" replied Bonden smiling as he tapped his biscuit on the table to get rid of the weevils.
"So many battles, all over the world" reminisced Killick.
They both closed their eyes and tried to remember all the different battles they had been involved in.
"What about the Cacafuago" interjected Bonden, "that was a good'un, nobody would ever have though a 14 gun sloop could take on a 32 gun frigate would they now."
They all remembered the spectacular battle they had fought against the Spanish frigate, and how their prize money had been unceremoniously ripped from them over some legal quibble.
"Damm those swabs" swore Killick in his coarse accent.
"But there has been plenty of others hasn't there my mate," said Bonden taping his friend on the arm. "Our trips around the med in the dear Sophie were wonderful weren't they, no wonder they call him Lucky Jack Aubrey!"
"Now that Polychrest was a strange barky if ever I saw one!" laughed Killick.
The Polychrest had been built to carry a special weapon, later abandoned, and as a result was quite unlike any other sloop a-float.
"But the Surprise, she is a real beauty" interjected Bonden, "she is the best of the lot."
It was at this moment the Bosun called 'All hands', and Bonden and Killick rushed on deck where the sun was shining and around them, for miles and miles there was nothing but clear, blue ocean.
© 2003 Sarah Cousins