The cold spray flew over the side of the bow, sparkling in the full moonlight as it proceeded on its way to a final splash on the immaculate deck. Stephen strolled to and fro along the length of the Surprise, savoring the freshening breeze and full canopy of brilliant stars.
‘Stephen, there you are,’ called Jack from close behind, ‘out for an evening’s meditation of the sky no doubt.’
‘Oh no, for all love!’ answered his friend. ‘The stars are not the object of my musings this evening, dear.’ Pullings informed me we are quite close to the equatorial line and I decided to look for the black and white dolphins that often frolic with ships in these waters.
Stephen leaned over the side of the ship to point at the sprightly creatures racing the Surprise, and as he did so the barky fell to the bottom of the latest wave trough. He almost simultaneously felt his feet leave the deck and Jack’s strong hand grasp the back of his second-best coat before he could plummet to the dark green phosphorescent sea below.
‘Let us go below for some coffee, and a bite before the next watch. I feel a weather change coming on evidenced by a lower glass, and I’d like to raise a glass tonight sooner than later, for we are due to be visited by a nasty blow. Ha ha,’ cried Jack, clapping Stephen hard on the back at about the same point at which he grabbed him just a moment before.
‘Killick! Killick, there!’ Coffee for the Doctor and myself,’ Jack called as he entered his cabin.
‘Which it has been ready the past twenty minutes whilst you been gone looking for him, and just about ruined for want of drinking,’ came the answer from the pantry.
‘Then be quick about bringing it out, and some of that soused pig’s face if there is any left,’ replied the Captain.
Killick appeared in the doorway, stiff straight, chin out and a steely defiance in his eyes.
‘Which there ain’t, because the rats got at it,’ he stated triumphantly.
‘Stephen’s eyes brightened and his whole countenance relaxed as he sipped the coffee.
‘This coffee is a bit overdone, but as good as a sainted child. Strong as a male ungulate in full horn, and worthy of having a star named after it.’
‘Then we will call the star ‘Buck,’ laughed Jack. ‘To Star Buck!’ he intoned seriously as he raised his cup to Stephen, drank it back, his face awash with the simple pleasure, and his blue eyes raised to heaven as he finished the hot draught.
© 2006 Joseph Pomis