Monday, 9 September 2013

Aboard HMS "Centurion"


" 'I shall try to write it down,'  said Peter, dully.  But somewhere in the wash and bilge his journal rocked to and fro, its pages spread and pale.  Yet he had done his best to keep it up:  for Elliot, only a little while before the end, had begged him to persevere.  Elliott had been light-headed then, and going fast; but there had been something cruelly moving about his care for Peter's book.

It was the scurvy, of course, that had broke him down; but it was Cape Noir that killed him.  It was on the 13th of April.  'I will write it down,' said Peter, again. 

.... After that, what was the main happening? ....' I must write it down in succession,' said Peter again.  

There had once been a time when it was almost impossible to write in the midshipmen's berth, when you had to take your journal into the top, either because there was physically too little space or because someone would inevitably pour the sand into the ink in a spirit of fun.  But now Elliot was gone: and Hope was gone too, vanished at some moment in a furious storm when the ice blew from the sea and drew blood where it touched -- no one knew exactly when and how.   Keppel was lashed into his hammock and nobody thought he would leave it.  There was room enough now: and now when a midshipman came below he ate silently and fast, devouring what meagre rations and green scum was left, and flung himself into his hammock, dead until the next pipe.  There was not much boyishness left in the midshipmens' berth. "


The Golden Ocean  Patrick O'Brian

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