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[personal profile] esteven
As he watched the falcon's heavier but still rapid flight he heard eight bells strike aboard, followed by the remote pipe of all hands to breakfast and the much more emphatic roar of the hungry seamen: a moment later he saw Jack Aubrey, mother-naked, plunge from the taffrail and swim out towards Old Scratch, his long yellow hair streaming behind him. When he was half way across two seals joined him, those intensely curious animals, sometimes diving and coming up ahead to gaze into his face almost within hand's reach.
'I give you joy of your seals, brother,' said Stephen, as Jack waded ashore on the little golden strand, where the skiff now lay high, dry and immovable. 'It is the universal opinion of the good and the wise that there is nothing more fortunate than the company of seals.'
'I have always liked them,' said Jack, sitting on the gunwale and dripping all over. 'If they could speak, I am sure they would say something amiable, but Stephen, have you forgot breakfast?'
'I have not. My mind has been toying with thoughts of coffee, stirabout, white pudding, bacon, toast, marmalade and more coffee, for some considerable time.'
'Yet you would never have had it until well after dinner, you know, because your boat is stranded and I doubt you could swim so far.'
'The sea has receded!' cried Stephen. 'I am amazed.'
'They tell me it does so twice a day in these parts,' said Jack. 'It is technically known as the tide.'

(chapter five)