Note: The indented passages are actual quotes from O'Brian's Master and Commander.
"Are you still on deck, Mr. Dillon?"
he said, with an attempt at a smile. "Make sail, if you please: the tail of
the sea-breeze will carry us out," he said, and walked uncertainly into his
Jack closed the door behind him and sagged, all Naval stiffness gone out of his shoulders and back, as if the strings had been severed on a puppet. It had taken a good deal of effort to speak in a neutral tone to Mr. Dillon, to walk with as normal a gait as possible. Jack was no artificer, it was difficult for him to hide his feelings. But this time, his pride and ego were so bruised, he had to. That anyone should suspect what had occurred and pity him! He shrank from the thought.
It was a relief to be alone at last, to finally let his face relax into a scowl of wretchedness. He rubbed his hand along his cheek. It actually felt stiff; he had not realized that he'd been clenching his jaw so tightly. And once more came the image of Molly Harte and that goddamned scrub, Colonel Pitt - a soldier, Molly - could you not have restrained yourself to the Navy, at least! - thrashing together in the very walled garden where he had often thrashed with her himself. By God, it was more than he could take. He cursed his decision to visit her at Ciudadela. His mood had been black and thunderous before this debacle; it would be worse yet, now.
Impatiently, Jack shrugged off his coat and bellowed, "Killick! Killick, there."
A hurried scuffling and Killick sloped in, his face somewhat guarded, his reply more respectful than normal. Already the scuttlebutt was circulating that the Captain had returned from his assignation in a black temper. Jack, the most open and straightforward of men, thought he was playing his cards close to his vest. He would have been aghast to know his men had an inkling of the purpose of his calling in at Cuidadela.
He wanted no nightcap of brandy tonight; his was a mood that must be nourished with more potent spirits. Deprived of the charms of his mistress, Jack wanted to fall instead into the comforting embrace of that libation most familiar to sailors. He said, "Light along a bottle of rum, and take these off to be stowed away. Handsomely now, Killick. And if you see the doctor, please to tell him I have retired for the night."
"Aye sir." Killick scurried away, carrying Jack's best uniform coat and hat. He was back almost immediately with a decanter of rum, drawn from Jack's private cask, and a tumbler. "Will there be anything else, sir?
"No," replied Jack curtly, settling in his chair and reaching for the bottle. "Leave me, if you will."
Killick went away, feeling almost as if he were escaping grave danger. He called in at the gunroom where Stephen sat playing chess with young Babbington.
"Which the Captain begged me to tell you he was retired for the night, sir," he announced, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat, his head bobbing in a deferential nod.
'How very curious,' thought Stephen, his heavy lidded eyes taking note of Killick's out of the ordinary and quite servile demeanor, while his brain processed the fact that Jack had seen fit to send this message. It meant, in effect, that he wanted no company tonight. Then, 'Ah!' as enlightenment dawned. 'So she turned him away…or perhaps he has found her with another. Jack must be in the blackest of moods, to be sure.'
* * *
Jack recalled that night as he read the note, remembering his anger, despair, and frustration. Now, despite his intense grief for James Dillon and the child Ellis, his heart could not help but soar. Coming on the heels of the triumph of capturing the Cacafuego, the reception of this note sent under double cover brought him to a state of unmitigated joy and delicious anticipation. Jack, in many ways still an innocent about women and their stratagems, did not smoke that it was because of his triumph that Molly suddenly wished to entertain him. Such a thought did not enter his mind. In fact, from the moment he read her note, very little entered his mind except the exigency of his desire to see and touch Molly Harte.
His barge drew up to the Mole; Jack stepped ashore after ordering Bonden to return for him in the early morning watch. It was now late afternoon; the light was turning golden, the shadows lengthening. Jack stumped up the narrow road from the Mole to the somewhat secluded street that Molly had named for their assignation. He glanced about almost furtively - it was still broad daylight, after all, and she was his commander's wife - but none took any notice of him. Nor was there a sign of Molly, and he chafed under the obligation of waiting for her like some damned love-stricken pup. He strode up and down the dusty street, waiting, waiting; his impatience growing by leaps and bounds, when at last Jack heard the clattering of wheels. He turned to watch as from around a high-walled corner there came an elegant post-chaise with curtains drawn and battened down fast. He stepped back to allow it room to pass, but it stopped before him. The door of the carriage swung open, and Molly leaned part way out, her lovely face all but hidden by a gauze-like veil, though a wicked smile was still evident beneath the filmy cloth. The sight of that smile set his heart to thudding pleasantly.
"Ah, Jack! Darling man, into the carriage. Quick, before we are noticed."
Jack grinned broadly and swung lightly up the step.
"Sweetheart!" He sat next to her on the squab and in the dim interior, half turned and pulled her into his arms for a welcoming kiss. She came easily, throwing back the veil with one hand, running the other lightly over his shoulder, his wounded ear.
"How glad I am you are returned to me in one piece," she whispered.
"Somewhat the worse for wear, but still whole," he replied, wrapping his arms around her as his mouth descended to take hers. His lips sucked at hers hungrily; it was not the soft kiss of welcome he had intended. Some sense of residual anger, a ghost of the frustration he'd felt that night at Ciudadela came flooding in and he became instantly, ardently, impassioned - plunging his tongue into her mouth, holding her head immobile, pressing his lips hard upon hers, as if violence would somehow mark her as his.
The thought came like a command: 'Drive the memory of that wretched dog Pitt right out of her head!'
He deepened his kiss, tightening his fingers on her throat to more than a caress. He felt her pulse leap under his fingers and expected she might pull away and reproach him for his reckless abandon, but after a fleeting moment of hesitation, she drew on his tongue strongly, driving him to further heights of arousal. He groaned into her mouth, dropped his lips to the flesh that pouted prettily at her bodice and kissed her there, his breath burning hot against her skin. Jack nipped and licked; he had always been captivated by bosoms, especially such a fine pair as Molly possessed.
"Jack, Jack…" Mindless, she whimpered, swept away by his ardor, knowing that he, when fully aroused, was a superb lover surpassing any she had known. "Oh, my lovely strong Jack - so masterful. Oh, yes!" she cried, as he pulled on the crest of her breast through the silk that covered it. Molly was beyond thinking of the damage his mouth would do to the frail fabric, she wanted only to feel that hot breath caressing her again.
Jack pressed her back; down, down, until she was lying flat against the seat. He lay over her, crushing her with his weight, then cursed the sword hanging at his side as it clunked clumsily against the side of the coach.
"Molly, hold," he gasped, as she twisted passionately under him, to his great discomfort. He yanked at his sword roughly, got it free at last and dropped it unceremoniously on the carriage floor. Eyes dancing with playfully evil intent, he bent over her again.
"Would you have me ravish you here in this carriage, my darling?" he whispered, licking at her ear, teeth tugging lightly at the pearl stud in the lobe. "Take you by storm, like a pirate would a maiden?" He heard her quick intake of breath before Molly's eyes flickered open and he saw the flame of desire in them. Jack captured her hand in his, dragged it to his groin. "Feel what you have done to me, maiden," he purred. "Feel how much I desire you…"
"My God!" moaned Molly, her slender fingers curving to cup him. He pressed her hand hard against his rampant cock, forcing her to rub him as he arched into her hand. Molly shuddered at the feel of him, hot and throbbing in her palm.
"Yes, take me, Take me now, Jack!" she pled, squeezing, tugging on his cock through the fabric of his breeches. "My beautiful Jack!"
"A taste first, my pretty one. Just a taste to fire me further…" and he crawled down, taking his manhood out of her reach. She moaned again as he flung her skirts over her head and stroked his hands over the beribboned garters that held up her stockings. He gasped in astonishment at the sight of her sex. The dark hair was gone and her lips glistened pink, already slick with moisture.
"By God, a bald pussy!" cried Jack, enflamed by the inviting sight. He bent his head and kissed her there. The scent of her desire assaulted his senses, and he went light-headed, inebriated by the promise of unbridled carnality. He pulled her thighs wide, pushed one to rest on the floor, lifted the other over his broad shoulder, and drove his tongue inside the naked beckoning folds. Molly leapt under his mouth; he grasped her hips and pressed her back against the velvet squabs, holding her still as he licked along her smoothly shaven lips, insinuating his tongue inside until he found the place he sought. Making a spear of it, he darted rapidly at her nubbin until she cried out, and then lapped gently. She writhed under his hands, undulating her hips into his kiss. He teased her for several long moments until at last he grasped the bundle of nerves between his teeth and sucked lightly.
"Jack!" The cry seemed loud enough to wake the echoes, yet the chaise rocked steadily on. He grinned against her sex: Molly must have given her coachman strict instructions to leave them undisturbed, no matter what he heard.
He let her come slowly to her senses while he rubbed his face against the satin skin of her thigh, then sat upright, hauling her with him. He fumbled his breeches open and lifting his hips, slid them down to his knees.
"Up now, Molly girl," he commanded. "Ride me well, for I've missed you sorely."
She needed no further persuasion, but rose over him on her knees and sank down over his engorged cock, slowly, slowly, until she had taken him all the way in. Jack threw back his head and hissed in pleasure as his length was engulfed in Molly's hot wet sheath. He drove upward, assisted by the motion of the coach, a rolling, rocking motion that he soon attuned himself with, using it to his advantage. Gazing at Molly, her eyes closed in bliss, her pink tongue out between her lips, he reached up and trailed the fingers of one hand across her cheek. She astonished him by chasing them and sucking them into her mouth. A whore's trick to be sure, but Christ! the sensation, hot and wet on his rough skin. When her tongue began to caress his fingers, sliding over them, around them, in just the manner he would have her take his manhood, he grunted deep in his chest, and drove into her all the harder.
It seemed to Jack the chaise was gathering speed and the road was growing rougher, but surely that was just the rhythm of Molly's hips, rolling like a rough sea, rising and dropping upon his mast with a speed and force that astounded him. She had let his fingers slide from her mouth and was kissing him now, her tongue licking at his lips. He scooped a hand into the bodice of her dress and removed a breast. Holding it to his lips, he suckled joyously on the engorged pink nipple. But one teat was not enough. He must have them both for his pleasure, must squeeze them together and taste the pair to be satisfied. Out came the other breast, over and over the pert nipples dragged Jack's ravening tongue.
Molly caught his head between her hands and pulled it closer. Jack bit gently, tugging one nipple between his teeth until it was pulled taut from her body, and placing his hands on her hips, shoved her down hard into this lap as he drove upward. Her cry came huskily, to his astonishment, he heard her utter an obscene curse, and a new burst of passion rocked him. He was making her scream, he was making her curse!
'Does she perform so for you, Pitt, you bastard son of whore?' he exulted. 'Can you make Molly forget herself so far as to fuck you in a post-chaise in broad daylight like a common strumpet?'
Harder and faster, they strove together. Jack’s ballocks deaw tight, his thighs trembled, as he drove toward release. Above him, Molly's rhythm faltered as the tide of a raging climax broke over her, and far inside her warmth, Jack felt her muscles clench, release, clench again. It milked his prick so sweetly his own orgasm overtook him and he grunted in a bestial manner, clasping her tightly to him as he rocked his body upward, straining to spend himself inside her.
'Ah, it is heaven, le petit mort… and almost worth dying for…' he thought dimly, then held her upright as she sagged against him. He cocked his head to catch her words as she whispered in his wounded ear.
"Jack, I've missed you so. La! It has been so long since I…" She sighed and let her words trail away.
"Since you what, Molly darling?" he said soothingly, rubbing her back.
"Since I've felt the way you make me feel. Truly Jack, you are a man among men."
He couldn't resist. "And do you have many to compare me with, my dear?"
She colored prettily. "Perhaps. One or two others. You must not fault me for that, Jack. These cruises last an infernally long time, you know."
Jack, his desire slaked for the moment, was happy now, his natural good humor and benevolence restored. He beamed at her and kissed her soundly.
"Yes my sweeting. Quite. They are infernally long to a woman like you, and a man such as I. But Molly dear, you must make me a promise or I swear there will be no more delights like this one."
She kissed him over and over, on his cheeks, on his forehead, on the lids that covered his bright blue eyes, on the tip of the fine strong nose that smelled faintly of her essence.
"What is it, my darling Jack? I will give you anything you desire. You deserve it for the capture of Cacafuego, and you deserve it for your conquest of the Molly Harte!" she teased, speaking of herself as though she were a ship.
Jack approved of her jest, but spoke sternly: "If you are going to share your charms with other men, Molly dear, you must restrict your generosity to sailors. No more army men, if you please."
She dropped her eyes. "You knew about Colonel Pitt?"
"I know you saw him at Ciudadela," Jack said, a fleeting dark cloud passing over his sunny countenance.
"And how do you come to know such a thing?" asked Mrs. Harte softly, for she had thought herself safe from discovery or suspicion while under the chaperonage of Lady Warren.
"Because I was there," he admitted. "I called in to see you, Molly, and went to our bower. I was soon very sorry I had."
Her eyes filled with shame and pity, knowing just what he would have seen on the night Colonel Pitt had come to visit her. "I am sorry Jack, if that hurt you."
He seemed to stir himself; he smiled at her with mild benevolence. "Ah, my little dove. Don't trouble your head about it now. It is over, and I was foolish to expect …shall we say fidelity…from a mistress. I will not make the same mistake again."
Molly's eyes widened at the barb. He was more wounded than he showed; she smoked it immediately and rebuked him.
"Fidelity, my dear? From a woman who puts horns on her husband? Perhaps you were foolish to expect it, but I tell you this, Jack. I may not be faithful, but I am inordinately fond of you. No other holds my heart like you do."
For some time, Jack had been laboring under extreme discomfort. "And 'tis glad I am of it, sweetheart, but please," he grimaced, "can you move…..argh!" he cried, as the heel of Molly's shoe caught and scraped along the skin of his thigh. "…off my lap. My ballocks are all but mashed against the edge of the seat."
Molly stood unsteadily, swaying with the motion of the carriage as she held to Jack's shoulders for balance. Between her legs, she felt his seed leak from her sex and shuddered, even this bringing her pleasure. He gazed at her, her eyes still languid from the effects of his rutting, her lovely bosoms exposed over the bodice of her dress. Pert pink nipples seemed to stare at him; he could not stop himself from reaching up and giving a tweak and a kiss to each.
"Jack, don't think I am finished with you. The driver is taking us to the far side of Cap Mole and back; we'll return just in time to dress for Lady Warren's rout tonight. And once there we will slip away and meet in our bower in the garden." She bent and kissed him tenderly. "I have been without you so long, darling man. We have much to make up for."
He lifted his hips and hitched up his breeches, taking his time about fastening them. "You are undoubtedly a wanton, Molly, but I admire it in you," he said. "It's a most appealing quality in a mistress. So then, my little dear...your intent is that I am to satisfy you all through the night? Make love to you again and again?" He arched an eyebrow and gazed at her speculatively.
She kissed him. "Yes!"
"And have you brought victuals with you, and wine? A prodigious quantity of victuals and wine? I will need to fortify to keep up my strength."
"Yes! There is a hamper in the boot, full of meat and bread and hare pie, and bottles and bottles of new wine to quench your thirst."
"Then you will have me, Molly, and as many times as you wish, until I quench your thirst. Ha ha ha ha!"
* * *
He approached her that evening as she stood surrounded by a flock of men in scarlet uniforms. They fell back as he appeared, cutting dark glances his way. Molly waited with Lady Warren, watching him come. She wore a scarlet dress and had rouged her cheeks and lips, done something that made her eyes seem dark and mysterious.
"She really is something of a whore," thought Jack, looking at her with great approval as she stood there with her head high, perfectly aware of what the women were saying and defying them: she was something of a whore, but the knowledge spurred his appetite. She was only for the successful…
He felt the flush of pride as he bent over her hand, for since he had taken the Cacafuego, he was the toast of the town, and thus desired by the most desirable woman in Mahon. He met her eyes and gave her a meaningful glance. She smiled at him and turned to accept the compliments of Sir Thomas Webster. Jack moved on.
He slipped away into the dark garden an hour later and made his way to the secluded rose bower, where Molly would be waiting. He had caught her glance as she stepped out of the French doors onto the piazza, murmuring to her escort that it was uncommon warm and stuffy in the room, and that she must have some air. No sooner seated there, she sent the poor fool for an ice and while he was gone, disappeared. Jack had had this ruse played on him a time or two; he was acquainted with its efficacy. Throwing a glance over his shoulder to make sure his departure went unmarked, he slipped behind a tall hedge and went in search of his sweet little tart.
He stopped, his mind taken with the pun. Jack dearly loved a clever turn of phrase, and he savored it for a moment, thinking, Sweet tart…sweetheart. Oh, I must remember to tell Stephen. I wonder if he will smoke it? Oh, ha ha ha ha!
* * *
Next morning found him uncommonly lazy. While the decks were holystoned over his head, he kept to his cot, thinking with drowsy pleasure of the night past. Molly in her red dress, on her knees before him whilst he reclined like a Caesar on a stone garden bench. Molly's tongue, licking along his cock, sucking him until he spent himself in her mouth. Another whore's trick, but a most delightful one. Oh, she was a devil with the face of an angel, and amazing bosoms. A sweet little tart with uncommon talents. And for now, thought Jack, as he bestirred himself and rose, she was his angelic faced devil...the possessor of amazing bosoms. She had driven him to such amorous feats, he reckoned she would be willing to content herself with only his attentions for the time being.
"Lucky Jack…" he said to himself, before calling to Killick for his coffee. "And this time, lucky on land as well as at sea!"
A week later he was at his breakfast table, chatting over coffee with Stephen. A most irritating itch was making itself felt in his groin, and Jack stirred uncomfortably on the locker, wishing that his friend would turn away so that he could scratch.
"Perhaps we might have some music tonight," Stephen suggested. "The Boccherini sonata, or another piece, if you'd prefer."
"Capital idea," murmured Jack absently, trying to think of something other than the annoying irritation in his groin.
Stephen bent a penetrating gaze on his friend. "Jack, what ails you? Your face has gone ruddier than usual, and you look uncommon hipped."
Jack went even redder. "It's nothing, nothing. Just a…a prodigious itching. For days now. It troubles me sorely."
Stephen's eyes hooded. "And where might this itching be, joy?"
Another flush of blood to Jack's face gave him his answer. Stephen picked up his coffee cup and sipped. "Jack, I ask this as your physician, not out of any desire to be overly inquisitive into your private affairs…you understand me?"
"Yes," said Jack, avoiding Stephen’s eyes.
"Have you had relations with a woman of questionable morals lately?"
"I have," came the mortified reply, and Stephen grinned to himself.
"And does it not occur to you that you may be infested as a result of this congress?"
"Infested? Good Lord!" cried Jack, all ahoo.
"Pediculus. Surely you know of such things; it's a common enough affliction among seafarers," said Stephen in a benign tone. He took another sip of his coffee and set it down upon the table.
A vision of Molly's shaven sex floated before Jack's eyes. He had thought she'd done it to entice him, but now the reason was clear. "What a slack-wit I am. That cursed daughter of Satan!" he cried. "She's given me the crabs!"
"Now, now," soothed Stephen. "Surely you have had this condition before, Jack?"
"I have not!"
Stephen raised his eyebrows. "Astonishing in a man with your appetite."
"What's to be done for…this condition?" asked Jack, almost dreading to hear the answer.
"You must bathe - immerse yourself in scalding water, wash well with strong lye soap, and be shaven. It will both kill the pediculae and remove all eggs from your parts."
"Oh, damn her!" swore Jack under his breath. "Strong lye soap, Stephen? Truly? Is there no other way to cure it?" asked Jack hopefully.
"There is not. And in addition, Jack, I wish to examine the affected region. Pediculae may not be all your lady has shared with you."
"Good Lord!" cried Jack, jumping up from the locker, visions of horror in his head. "It was that fucking scrub Colonel Pitt, no doubt."
"A soldier, God rot him! I saw him with her in Ciudadela."
"Ah. Well, it may be that it was Colonel Pitt who began this unfortunate chain of events, but no matter. Now it must end with you. I suggest you call for Killick right away, and set him to preparing your bath. It might be best if you had him boil your breeches, too. And your small-clothes, all you own."
"Lord, Lord," mourned Jack, shaking his head. "It only gets worse."
Stephen stood and said briskly, "Come now Jack! It's a minor thing, taken all together. One would think you had been given the death sentence."
"It is the shame of it, Stephen. I fear it will be all over the barky, once Killick learns of it."
"It will not. I will speak to him."
* * *
Hours later a boiled, barbered, and chastised Jack walked the quarterdeck, looking sterner and darker than he ever had. He bent frequent sidelong glances on the men working in the waist and the rigging, and try though he might, he caught no grinning leers thrown his way, heard no whispering. It seemed Stephen's warning been effective.
"And speak of the devil," thought Jack, standing with his hands clasped behind his back as Stephen came up from below. He had started toward the quarterdeck when suddenly there came a strident caterwauling from below decks and young Babbington burst through the main hatch, his eyes like saucers.
"Doctor Maturin," he called, "you must come right away!"
Stephen turned, alarmed. "What's that you say? What is it?"
"Cook tried to shave the cat, and it's nigh scratched his eye out!"
"Dear God, save us from idiots and their works!" cried Stephen, and hurried to the galley to assess the damage.
* * *
It was a weary Stephen who came to the captain's cabin as the dog watch was ending.
Jack cocked an eye at his friend. "Ah, there you are, Stephen! Might I help you to some toasted cheese? It is fresh made and quite hot; look at it steam!"
"A bit, my dear. And some port, if you please, while you're pouring." He sank into the chair opposite Jack.
"All is well with the cook?" asked Jack, wondering if he was to be short a man in the galley.
"Ay, the fool. He will keep his eye, but it was a near thing."
"What the devil was he shaving the cat for?"
Stephen glanced up, his face working as he tried to suppress his laughter. "Because my dear, the cat had fleas. Cook thought shaving would cure her of them."
"Oh! Fleas! Oh, ha ha ha!" cried Jack slapping his knee. "Has the cat survived her barbering?"
Stephen joined in with his odd, squeaking laughter. "She has. And speaking of barbering, how are you, joy?" he asked when he'd finally caught his breath. He wiped at his tearing eyes, peering at Jack over his pocket handkerchief.
"I am somewhat worse for wear, but I come out of it a wiser man," said Jack, a sly, expectant expression on his face.
"Oh? And what have you learned that will protect you from this occurrence in future?"
He'd meant his query in all seriousness, but now Stephen could see that Jack was getting up to one of his famously bad witticisms...so bad, they were hilarious, and in spite of himself, Stephen began to laugh again, even before the words were out of Jack's mouth.
Jack grinned, his eyes dancing with merriment and anticipation.
"What have I learned, you say? Why, the same lesson as the cook. To beware of shaved pussies, of course. Oh, ha ha ha ha!"