"I am immensely grateful for your assistance." said Dr Wellby, the Implacable's surgeon, to Dr Maturin. "Here come the last two."
"Good morning, sir. George Gladly of the larboard watch. Me and Bob Osso here was sent to see if you had any salve for the cap'n." The ship's surgeon gave a grunt, and asked Dr Maturin if he would excuse him while he fetched the salve.
"Did I have the pleasure of working on you during some time in the past?" asked Dr Maturin.
"No sir, I believe not." Replied George, who then began a rambling account of the ships to which he had been assigned. Then, seeing that this did not satisfy, he added, "Me, Bob here, and the cap'n (although the cap'n was a just a lieutenant), were all in France in '03. We was all taken off the Chastity by the French in '03 when they broke the peace."
Dr Wellby walked in, handed them the salve and sent them away.
"If you do not mind, colleague," said Stephen, "I will now take my dinner upstairs. Adieu."
The windows across the admiral's cabin showed the squadron's ships a cable's length apart beneath an ice-blue sky. Jack turned to Stephen and said, "Why, there you are Stephen. It is almost time for dinner."
After the cloth had been drawn, Stephen said, "Jack, shall I tell you something that I found in the sickbay this morning?" Jack gave a wide smile and apprehensive look to which Stephen took as approval. "While assisting Dr Wellby, two men came downstairs to sick call. One of the men, a George Gladly, looked somewhat familiar, so I questioned him to find if there might be a connection.
"I found that he, the ship's cox'n Robert Osso, and the Implacable's own captain were in France as Bonapart's prisoners at the end of the peace in '03."
"What a coincidence, Stephen," replied Jack. "We where there at that same time."
"In fact, our paths appear to have crossed." said Stephen. "You did not have the best view of our surroundings due to your disguise; however, you might remember that group of prisoners, the one with the sailors and that rather persuasive young officer, during our sojourn by the northern wall of Carcassonne."
The Jack's smile slowly, slowly faded as he recalled that unhappy incident which began with the question, "Can 'e dance, mate?" Jack's face turned an astonishing red (not at all dissimilar to the feet of the red-footed booby Stephen noted privately). "Killick! Killick there! Pass the word for the ship's captain. He is to report to me directly. Directly. Do you hear? And Killick— bring me a hornpipe."
© 2004 David Runyon