Set between Post Captain and HMS Surprise
Stephen let the thin tobacco smoke wash refreshingly through his lungs while watching Jack from the relative safety of the high box window above the garden, his friends golden crown, uncovered by any form of Christian headpiece shining in the late autumn sun. A thin reptilian smile crossed Stephen's face as his hand drifted to the still tender puncture mark on his larboard gluteus maximus inflicted by the prodigiously sharp pin found buried in his usual cushion last evening. Such an inviting target thought the peevish, underused physician. Jack fussed amongst the rows of leprous cabbages and occasionally a burst of louder humming would drift up to the window, Corelli in C minor or some deviation from the mathematical truth.
Stephen leaned forward holding his blue spectacles against his face. As an academic man he could well understand the need for jocular release, particularly from a post captain hewn up and dried out on the shore for the better part of the last six months and his suspicions as to the placement of the pin were borne up by the overdone concern at obvious and devilish contrast to the merriment burning in his bright blue eyes upon the violent discovery of the spiteful object.
"Fie, indeed sir", gurgled Stephen as he waited for the unsuspecting gardener to move closer, " I'll give you your 'Oh, what is it Stephen' and your 'Wherever could that have come from.'" His rancour built at the memory of Killick's uncontrolled hooting from the kitchen, later blamed upon an attack of the marthambles.
He contemplated for a few moments the deeply therapeutic and laudable qualities of saliva and mucus. Did not the south seas islanders prize above all things the beverage of carefully chewed and masticated root. Did not the gannet's young thrive on its parents kindly regurgitations.
Jack dusted his hands and stretched his arms wide throwing back his head. Stephen had already released the mouthful of carefully harvested and cultivated phlegm and the moment stood still as Jack's startled eyes locked onto the victorious glaring, white face of his house guest. His mouth had been already open mid yawn and the packet fell true straight into his open gullet. The realisation was instant and Jack falling on his hands knees reflexively swallowed, choked, spat and retched into the cabbages.
It was better than Stephen could have ever hoped for. The great boy brought by the lee. However now the guilt and possible recriminations also set home and realising his apparent safety was only that he leapt to his feet and dashed down the stairs.
The sharp crack of the side door slamming upon its hinges, a wild cackling laugh and the rapid staccato of panicked running footsteps was the trigger Jack needed to mobilise his base instincts. With a roar he bolted through the house, straight through the nearest hedgerow and across the paddock hard upon the heels of the rapidly moving doctor whose face was now frozen in a rictus of terror and joy.
© 2001 Anon