Seated at the expansive dinner table in the opulent admiral's quarters aboard his flagship, His Britannic Majesty's Implacable Suffolk, the newly beflagged Admiral Jack Aubrey surveyed his laden dinner table, with the many removes now being demolished by his eager guests, with his customary open and amiable air. He enjoyed company and with the fleet under his command anchored around his flagship, he was able to host dinners with a much wider variety of people. While he dearly loved the officers of his dear old Surprise, the conversation sometimes flagged after so many years together. All the stories had been told and told again, he chuckled to himself as he tried to bring off a bon mot about conversations flagging and making him blue, but it did not answer.
Finally he lit on the one Army officer present, a Colonel of the Foot Guards with the simple name of Cholmondely-Majoribanks-Farquharson.
"May I trouble you for the salt, Colonel", he boomed in his best Nelsonian air, then he added "A glass of wine with you, Sir."
"Certainly, A'br'y" responded the red coated and gold laced figure. "You do me great honour, Sir."
"Tell me, Cholmondely-Marjoribanks-Farquharson, you were at the battle of Waterloo, I collect?"
"Indeed, A'b'ry, I was and an experience it was. When the French cavalry attacked, they ran damn'd close to us, you know. It reminded me of the old Eton wall game. I thought I would die with my newfangled boots on."
"But Colonel," interjected, Jack's particular friend, Stephen Maturin, a rather small and scruffy man in a dark coat with suspicious stains on the sleeve, "One thing has always puzzled me. Let me ask you a direct question as it is often the best way of enjoying a civilized conversation. I know that when the tyrant Bonaparte's short second reign ended at Waterloo, you and the Duke had fought all through the day while awaiting the Prussians arrival. Why was General Blucher so delayed that he arrived on the field of battle late in the day as the sun was setting?"
"M't'r'n, my good fellow, while you are no doubt very learned in nautical matters, it is clear that you have never studied the peculiarities of our European allies and their fighting abilities. The German is fine fighter in the dark, none better in a night action, but you must remember the Hun dread days."
© 2005 Adam Quinan