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Particles of War

"The captain of the Nibbleswicke is one of my oldest friends," said Jack, "yet I wish we might meet with him any day but Sunday."

"Why is that?" asked Stephen.

"A few years ago he took a knock on his head during a desperate action against a French frigate. Ever since he has suffered difficulties when speaking. He confuses his words. He doesn't realise what is happening, and woe betide any man in his crew who laughs. They all love him and would not wish to serve under anyone else, but sometimes even they break down when they hear him speak."

"I can see that this would be a problem, but why don't you wish us to meet him on a Sunday?"

"Stephen, you must know by now that something happens on a Sunday that is dear to my heart and that I don't care to hear mocked, even unintentionally."

"Does he preach a sermon? You have been known to do so yourself."

"Worse. He reads the Articles of War. I have lived by the articles since I was a boy and know them by heart. It grieves me to hear him speak of 'dunished by peath' or the 'Horde Lie Admiral'. To hear him say 'His Majesty's vips and shessels' or 'no strip be shanded, or run upon any socks or rands, or hit or splazarded,' is almost more than I can bear. Come, here's Bonden. The launch must be ready.

Jack and Stephen were rowed across to the Nibbleswicke; Jack hiding his dread at the prospect to come and Stephen curious at the strange medical case he was about to witness. They were taken to the Captain, a man much like Jack in appearance, bearing the honourable scars and wounds of an active fighting seaman, apart from a bald patch on the side of his head revealing a curious depression in the skull.

"Ack Jaubrey my old friend! Delighted to see you and frour yend."

"Captain Wooner, allow me to present my surgeon, Doctor..."

"Mephen Staturin." said Stephen.

© 2005 Martinus Scriblerus