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A Word to Throw at a Dog

An unaccountably rejected scene from 'The Hundred Days'

['If you choose to write it now, here are pens and paper,' said Jack, nodding to his desk and chair. (POB)]

Hobden's miserable expression did not change. 'If the fellow would only smile,' Jack thought, 'I might claw him off this business yet.' And with the thought came a faint and yet lucid voice from his brief and much-interrupted schooling – a tag whose author he could not have named in a thousand years, but whose every word stood out like a beacon: Solvuntur risu tabulæ; tu missus abibis*. He turned again upon the Marine, swelling with the unaccustomed sense of inspiration.

'Captain Hobden,' he said, 'you are doubtless aware that it is both my power and my duty to note your contumacity in the ship's records, and in the dispatches that I must in time submit to the Admiralty; is this of no concern to you?'

'I have stated my position, sir.'

'Then consider, Captain, that the man you have insulted is a distinguished physician, a healer: there are those among your men whose lives he has saved: you may yet be indebted to him for your own. Have you nothing to say to this?'

'It is beside the point.'

'Well, here is a last consideration. You and the Doctor, sir, are both servants, I may say valuable servants, of his Majesty; you both wear his uniform. Is it well done, sir – I put it to you, is it well done – to persist in an affair that must deprive the King of one good man, if not two, out of those who wear his coat?'

'Captain Aubrey, sir, I cannot be influenced by these questions.' But he spoke with something like a tremble, for with every instant Jack's face grew redder and his eyes brighter.

'Then here it is, Captain Hobden, here it is: I must conclude that you reject my mediation absolutely; that you reject it, in short – ' Here, to Hobden's astonishment, Jack began to gasp. “That you reject it – '

And the last words that Killick heard at the door, before the momentary silence was broken by a storm of laughter, solo merging into duet – a storm that overbore the continuing lamentations of the two surgeons and rang from end to end of the ship – were these:

'Logs, Doc., and apparel!'

'Laughter washes out the indictment; you shall go free.' (Horace)

© 2005 Oliver Mundy