esteven: (Default)
[personal profile] esteven
'Jack,' he said, as they walked along the rim of the crater to a point where they could hail the ship, 'did you reflect upon Ganymede at all?'
'Yes,' said Jack. '1 was up with him all last night, and should be this night were it not for the Sultan's visit tomorrow. Such an endearing little pale golden body as he peeps out - he is easily my favourite. But I shall still have him almost all night, once the Sultan is done with.'
'Shall you, though?' said Stephen, looking at his friend's pleased, well-fed face, rather more florid than usual from the Sultan's wine; and after a pause, 'Brother, can we be talking of the same thing?'
'I should hope so,' said Jack, smiling. 'Jupiter is in opposition, you know. Nobody could have missed his splendour.'
'No, indeed: a very glorious sight. And Ganymede is connected with him, I collect?'
'Of course he is - the prettiest of the satellites. What a fellow you are, Stephen.'
'How well named. But I meant another Ganymede, the Sultan's cup-bearer. Did you notice him?'
'Well, yes, I did. I said to myself, Why, damn my eyes, there is a girl. But then I remembered that there would be no girls at a feast like that, so I returned to my excellent haunch of venison, no bigger than a hare's, but uncommon well-tasting. Why do you call him Ganymede?'
'Ganymede was Jupiter's cup-bearer; and I believe their connexion, their relations, their friendship, would now be frowned upon. But I use the name loosely, as it is so often used: I mean no reflexion upon the Sultan.'

(chapter six of TGS)

I feel O'Brian has never led his readers up the garden path so well. :D It is easily my favourite piece of conversation.
heather_mist: (The Hundred Days)
[personal profile] heather_mist
Chapter Three

He is a poor, short, bent, meagre, ill-looking little creature, very like. . . that is to say, you are the only grown person aboard whose clothes would fit him. You shall have them back of course, as soon as he can whip up something to appear on the quarterdeck in.'
'Killick,' called Stephen, barely raising his voice, since he knew that their valuable common servant was listening behind the door - Killick had something of a cold in his chest and his heavy breathing could have been heard at a far greater distance.
'Killick, be so good as to bring a respectable white shirt, the blue coat whose button you were replacing, a neck-cloth, a pair of duck trousers, stockings, shoes - buckled shoes - and a handkerchief.'
Killick opened his mouth: but to Captain Aubrey's astonishment he shut it again, paused, said, 'Aye-aye, sir: respectable white shirt it is, the blue coat, neck-cloth, ducks, stockings, buckled shoes, wipe,' and hurried away.

All of this passage is lovely - for Jack's unvarnished opinion of Stephen lack of physical attributes, stopping only just in time from being downright rude (but really not quite...), for Stephen accepting it with such equanimity but most of all, I just love the hilarity of this piece and in particular Stephen not even bothering to raise his voice to talk to Killick because he knows he is listening anyway and the absolute acceptance by everyone concerned - Stephen, Jack and Killick that of course he would be listening!

A beautifully realised scene between three people who have known each other such a very long time and so intimately well that they none of them need be terribly polite to each other.