To the Ends of the Earth

Free To the Ends of the Earth by William Golding

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Authors: William Golding
it, pour passer le temps ?

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    As your lordship can see by the number at the head of this section I have not been as attentive to the journal as I could wish—nor is the reason such as I could wish! We have had bad weather again and the motion of the vessel augmented a colic which I trace to the late and unlamented Bessie . However, the sea is now smoother. The weather and I have improved together and by dint of resting the book and inkstand on a tray I am able to write, though slowly. The one thing that consoles me for my indisposition is that during my long sufferings the ship has got on. We have been blown below the latitudes of the Mediterranean and our speed has been limited, according to Wheeler (that living Falconer ), more by the ship’s decrepitude than by the availability of wind. The people have been at the pumps. I had thought that pumps “clanked” and that I would hear the melancholy sound clearly but this was not so. In the worst of the weather I asked my visitor, Lieutenant Summers, fretfully enough why they did not pump, only to be assured the people were pumping all the time. He said it was a delusion caused by my sickness that made me feel the vessel to be low in the water . I believe I may be more than ordinarily susceptible to the movement of the vessel, that is the truth of it. Summers assures me that naval people accept the condition as nothing to be ashamed of and invariably adduce the example of Lord Nelson to bear them out. I cannot but think, though, that I have lost consequence. That Mr Brocklebank and La Belle Brocklebank were also reduced to the state in which the unfortunate Mrs Brocklebank has been ever since we left home is no kindof help. The condition of the two hutches in which that family lives must be one it is better not to contemplate .
    There is something more to add. Just before the nauseating complaint struck me—I am nigh enough recovered, though weak—a political event convulsed our society. The captain, having through Mr Summers disappointed the parson’s expectation that he would be allowed to conduct some services, has also forbidden him the quarterdeck for some infraction of the Standing Orders . What a little tyrant it is! Mr Prettiman, who parades the afterdeck (with a blunderbuss !), was our intelligencer. He, poor man, was caught between his detestation of any church at all and what he calls his love of liberty ! The conflict between these attitudes and the emotions they roused in him was painful. He was soothed by, of all people, Miss Granham! When I heard this comical and extraordinary news I got out of my trough and shaved and dressed. I was aware that duty and inclination urged me forward together. The brooding captain should not dictate to me in this manner! What! Is he to tell me whether I should have a service to attend or not? I saw at once that the passenger saloon was suitable and no man unless his habit of command had become a mania could take it from our control.
    The parson might easily hold a short evening service there for such of the passengers as chose to attend it. I walked as steadily as I could across the lobby and tapped on the door of the parson’s hutch.
    He opened the door to me and made his usual sinuous genuflection. My dislike of the man returned.
    “Mr—ah—Mr—”
    “James Colley, Mr Talbot, sir. The Reverend Robert James Colley at your service, sir.”
    “Service is the word, sir.”
    Now there was a mighty contortion! It was as if heaccepted the word as a tribute to himself and the Almighty together.
    “Mr Colley, when is the Sabbath?”
    “Why today, sir, Mr Talbot, sir!”
    The eyes that looked up at me were so full of eagerness, of such obsequious and devoted humility you would have thought I had a brace of livings in my coat pocket! He irritated me and I came near to abandoning my purpose.
    “I have been indisposed, Mr Colley, otherwise I would have made the suggestion sooner. A few ladies and gentlemen would welcome it

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