Finished 21,: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey just prior to Christmas. Now I am at a complete loss. Jack and Stephen have been with me these many months now and I can still here Jack bellowing uncontrollably at "Why is it called the Dog Watch?"  "Because it is cur-tailed, my dear" I find myself using words like prodigious and capital. But mostly I think of a lasting and profound friendship, the complications, the difficulties and the comfort of such a close bond and the force of the trust between the two. One strives toward the ideals of fellowship and heroism that O'Brian evokes; hopes that one could jump, dauntlessly, without a moments hesitation into the breach like Jack to save his friend. Or Stephen, who never did any of his business without thinking of how Jack would be affected. Jack's profound expertise at sea and in battle, and his foolishness on land. Stephen's deftness with scalpel or intel and lubberly ways at sea. Or Stephen's seemingly never ending quest to gain the affections of the unattainable Diana. Or to catch sight of the southern albatross, or a particular beetle. Or his ruthless cunning and awesome sense of vengeance when betrayed or slighted. His bitter hatred of Napoleon and all he stands for. I can hear Tull's performance of Stephen clearly, the drama profound: "Draw man, draw! Or I shall slit you where you stand!" The roar of the canon as the gun crews work there lethal machines. The view from the foretop crosstrees, the wind humming in the rigging, the rush as Surprise slices through the water, her crew like clockwork, expert seamen, orders followed even before they are uttered. The perfection of a well founded vessel and closely nit and thoroughly trained crew. Mr. Pullings, Babbington, Barret Bonden, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Hanson all flawlessly loyal to their captain. Preserved Killick with his nose pinched, tut tutting over wine or blood spilled on the number one uniform or whining like an old maid "which its comin', ain't it?" when chastised for the not bringing the blasted coffee on the double but appearing miraculously at his captains shoulder under the light of the binacle in the wee hours in icy spray with a piping hot mug and a sandwich. Or Corelli or Mozart drifting up from the cabin as Jack and Stephen find their way through a new piece. Or the terrible hardships that men like these lived through on a regular basis. The state of medicine in their time. The unspeakable violence and bloodshed and slaughter that the crew dove into to a man behind their captain, the roar of Awkward Davies, boarding axe in each hand. What a remarkable, wonderful, fulfilling epic journey. What a beautiful, beautiful friendship. Delightful to the last drop. Now I shall have to start again. Hornblower can wait.


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