January 2, 2005: On the previous year

Christmas on board the Java, and despite the dates attached to his diary entries, it is the first time in the year that Stephen is aware of how much time has passed. It had not seemed like very long at all since he spent Christmas on board an equally glum Leopard. Now that he reflected on it, it had been one of the most cheerful years of his adult life, apart from its beginning and disastrous end. He remembered Mrs. Boswell's prediction: "You will have a prosperous voyage, and not too long, and all your heart's desire."
She had not been entirely right, but nor had she been entirely wrong. After the Leopard had landed, the ordeal of getting her to the island over, he had lost himself in wildlife. He had hoped for Australia to revive him, but when in the end it gave him only a wombat, it had been just as well; he had already had almost more specimens than he could handle. Then the triumph of sending Mrs. Wogan off with her poisoned documents, giving her the gift of freedom in the process. The rest of the year spent with his specimens, until the fire that had destroyed them, and put him through another ordeal, now over.
Yet the year would soon be over too, and when Stephen looked at the work to be done next, the presence of this pointless war with the Americans, and Jack's depression and humiliation over the lost frigates, he feared the upcoming year would not be a happy one.

January 9: Describing My Exact Opposite

My exact opposite would actually have a very great deal in common with Jack. Physical descriptions aside, though an exact physical opposite would be female, she would be a creature bursting with life, open and incapable of lying or consciously playing a part. She would be a master of all things nautical; never in need of any help on the sea in the eyes of the sailors, but she would be ignorant about the ways of the world. Whatever miseries she experienced she would soon forget. She would also, I fear, have the same naval obssessions with haste and cleanliness, and the same narrow-mindedness, in that she would be blindingly loyal to some organization, though perhaps that organization might not actually be the Navy, and believe both she and that organization to always be right.
The one clear difference between her and Jack, besides her sex, would be that she would have no interest in music.

January 18: On an Amusing Childhood Memory

Even as a boy I was very fond of birds and beasts, and thus often went with my padri when he went hunting, though to see my quarry rather than to kill it. Once it happened that my cousin Abel was staying with us. We were both eight years of age, and we both joined my godfather. We roamed very far afield that day, I pointing out to Abel every creature we saw. He had a moderate interest in the subject, nothing like mine, but enough to make him listen closer than my padri cared to.
As often happened, possibly due to my memory being that of a child's, I managed to spot a bird I had never spotted before. When this happened, usually I would draw my padri's attention and we would either go after it or he would refuse to. Thinking that that the latter would happen, my padri being very intent on another beast, I whispered instead to Abel, who darted after the bird as it flew away. I went with him, assuming my padri would see and come after us.
We quickly lost the bird, then lost our way and ended up in a swamp. Abel grew frightened and accused me of being to blame. This caused me to grow indignant before I could become fearful, and I called him out on the spot. Being eight years old, however, I was quite convinced that the proper thing to do next was to throw swamp water in his face. He was equally convinced the proper thing to do was throw swamp water in my face.
My padri found us eventually, breathing hard and covered from head to foot in mud. He was not pleased. My backside hurt for days. So did Abel's. We were not very happy at the time, but by the time he departed, we had begun to see the incident as humourous.

January 24: On Distance

Question: What's the furthest away you've ever been from the place you were born/created? How did you get there? Why did you go? Did you return or even want to come back to where you came from? I was born in Ireland, but I was still young when I left for Catalunya. In my younger years, I traveled through much of Europe, but those distances become paltry when compared to the journeys of my later life with Jack. Together we have sailed around the globe, and I think the furthest we have ever been from Ireland is the East Indies. We have been there twice. The first time was on the Leopard, which sailed to Australia to help an unfortunate governer who no longer needed our help by the time we finally got there, so we sailed to the East Indies to receive further orders. The second time was on the Surprise, where we traveled across much of the Pacific from the other direction; however, partly due to my shameful ignorance of that Ocean's geography, and partly because I was injured for part of the voyage, I am uncertain just how much of it we covered. The third time was on the Diane, where we negoiated a a treaty with the Sultan of Pulo Prabang. The second journey, which expanded to result in a circumnavigation of the world, contained many significent incidents, not all of which I care to talk about, but for the island itself, I should take a moment to mention the Thousand Steps and all the wondrous creatures I saw there, and the awe I stand in of how untouched by and unafraid they are of man.
I spent the end of my youth in Ireland, where I was involved in the United Irishmen. The sad end to that story combined with the death of the woman I loved there would ensure I could never call Ireland my home again, though I have been back there since, on one occasion or another.

January 30: On the End

Question: Describe what your "happily ever after" would be like.
Question: What do you want on your tombstone - and why?

If there is one thing that life has taught me, it is that is no "happily ever after," and that there is no ending at all until one dies. I thought my story over after 1798; how wrong I turned out to be! I thought myself spirtually dead ten years later, but time and events resurrected me. I thought still that I could not live after Diana's death, but I have lived, I have felt joy, and I have even considered taking another wife. I do not want to think of what would happen to me if I were to lose Jack, but the rational part of my mind would still tell me that even that might not be the end.
So a happy ending would be for me to die happy. That, I suppose, would require me to live at least a few years longer, and for those years to be prosperous ones, ones with which I can put the events of my youth and the deeds I have done to overthrow Bonaparte behind me. I would not want Jack to die very long before me, yet I am aware that he would not want to outlive me either, and nor does he expect to, so there is nothing for it but for us to die very close to each other. Perhaps Sophie should not like to live very long either, but in the best situation she would have the strength and will do so, and of course I would leave Brigid behind happily settled in whatever situation in life she wants.
Jack would prefer to die and be buried at sea, so perhaps after a long career as an admiral, when Jack is just a little too old to remain active, some storm should sweep us overboard or knock us both fatally against a cannon, so to allow us our hammocks and shot. Some mild one, a storm that only kills old men; Jack would never want to take any of his crew with him, and neither would I. In that case, there would be no need for a tombstone. But should only Jack die and I remain alive long enough to help arrange his affairs before falling to some fortunate disease on land, I should like a very simple tombstone, bearing only my name. I do not care to have the rest of my life remembered. Perhaps I should survive long enough to travel back to Catalunya, and die and be buried there with my full name, but if I am only buried as Stephen Maturin, I do not think I should much mind.

Jack Aubrey: I say, Stephen, there's a bleak view! I'm afraid, my dear fellow, that I have every intention of living for a long while yet, and that you must therefore live too; I'll not have you wasting away from a bout of ill humours. And in any case, I shouldn't like to be tossed overboard, or knocked on the head in a storm. It would be a sad end indeed, was I to survive countless battles and be brought by the lee by a storm.
But shouldn't you like to have something telling on your tombstone? I recall that latin phrase you used to quote: non fui, non sum, non curo. Should you not like that on a tombstone? But this is a dark topic...I'll stop now, I think.
Stephen: Well, unless I was to go with a false ending, this topic was bound to be a less than pleasant one. But very well, if you do not wish to die in a storm then our fate must be to fade away as very old men, which I do admit is a somewhat pleasant one, at least for me. Unless a new war happens to break out when we are 75.
Jack: Aye, Stephen, for imagine what old rascals we would make! I don't think I should mind growing old at all, was I adequately occupied, and given plenty to do. And I should love to have grandchildren. Perhaps I could make up a little for my absence, being at sea for so many years.

February 6: On Love

Love is the combination of feelings I have towards certain individuals: Jack, Diana, and Brigid. Others too, but them most of all. But what each of them has done to my heart varies.
Jack is the strongest presence in my heart, but often the most unnoticed. I have tried not to take him for granted, but he is almost always near as well as dear. I don't have much opportunity to miss him as I do the other two. Yet I know he is often unsettled when we are apart, if only because on many such occasions I have engaged in delicate business which has given him cause to worry about my safety. He rescued me once when I was captured and tortured, without hesitation despite my sending him a message telling him not to come. I did not want him to put himself in such danger, yet I longed selfishly just to see him. I would return the favour in an instant if I could, though I pray I will never get the chance to.
If Jack represents certainty, security, and joy, Diana to me was the opposite. Perhaps no creature on this earth has caused me more pain than her, from hopeless longing when she would not have me, to more than one bout of anxiety when things went badly at home and I was too far away to do anything, to the harsher pain of loss whenever I was abandoned. She gave me happiness as well at times, and before her death I thought our troubles at last behind us.
Brigid has provoked an odd combination of both joy and despair, first the former to hear of her birth, then the latter to come home and discover her silent and shut away, then a quiet but powerful happiness that settled itself within me during our voyage on the Ringle, with her alive and full of energy and completely at home on the sea. I had never felt more pride.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I would not, except that it has happened to me.
I first saw Diana Villiers when she rode past Jack and me on Sophie's chestnut. I had no idea who she was, but almost instantly I felt my breath catch and my heart rise and swell. I had intended to never again fall in love; how pitiful that resolve proved. Time and closer aquaintance left my feelings unchanged in their basic nature, only intensified. I do not think love at first sight is very common, nonetheless, I know it to exist.

February 14: On Regrets

What have you most regretted losing?
Have you ever regretted a wish you made? Why/what happened?

This is an odd question for me to answer, because I have suffered so many losses, and yet for all of them have made gains. I have even lost my will to live, only to find it later when my life was in danger. And yet I sometimes wonder if I ever have recovered from my first great loss.
It occured in 1798, with the Irish Uprising, which was crushed by British forces. But perhaps the loss itself started much earlier, when the French Revolution descended into the Terror. I made wishes, with regards to both incidents, that I later had cause to regret. Back in 1789, I was still a hot-blooded creature, and I wished more than once for justice to come to all who opposed the Revolution, a wish which I would regret when justice, if one can call it that, did indeed come with a vengeance. I wished for the United Irishmen to never give up-until I realized what the consequences of refusing to surrender would be. I do not make such wishes anymore, and most wishes I do make I do not regret.
The loss was that off my optimism in the goodness of human nature, an optimism which even many years with Jack and his warm good heart have not restored. Before then, I was a far more cheerful person, and I never had to fear for my will to live. Given what I have seen, the loss was inevitable, but I believe I still may be allowed to regret it.

If you could change one moment in your past, what would it be?

During Jack's affair with Diana, very shortly before she abandoned both of us for Mr. Canning, she and I went on a carriage ride, during which I said that I liked sitting in the chaise with her and I wished the road could go on forever. There was a pause, and it was instantly obvious she was expecting me to propose. I did not, because I was convinced she would turn me down and all between us would be ruined. But by the end of the ride, our cordialness was artificial, and I feared what I had said had ruined us, and I was not at all surprised when she fled to Canning. But later, in India, she as much as told me she would have accepted.
And if in that moment I had proposed and she had accepted, how many years of misery we both would have been spared. Furthermore, it was the next time I saw Jack after that ride when I was forced to call him out, and were Diana and I engaged then, I am certain he would have respected her choice and avoided giving offense, sparing himself a great deal of misery as well, and leaving any jealousy and guilt left on either of our parts to be done away with when he and Sophie reached the understanding they did on the Lively. As it was, I cannot deny I was somewhat jealous of his happiness with Sophie, and his guilt would have lingered if he blamed himself for my loss of Diana.

February 16: I will likely regret this

But this question was posted in Miss FannyFae's journal, and having answered it, I believe I am expected to post it in my own:

If you woke up and I was in bed with you, what would be your first thought?

FannyFae: That we must have talked well into the night, until at last I fell asleep while you were telling me a story. (One of my favorite things in the entire world, I assure you!)
Stephen: So my stories would put you too to sleep, I see. Are you aware of how much you are like Jack in that matter?
FannyFae: (Fanny looks genuinely wounded and flustered.) No, Doctor. You don't understand! It's a comfort thing, really, that I haven't had since I was very small. I think I would have asked you if you would mind too terribly to tell me a story till I might fall asleep. Otherwise I am mostly a bit of an insomniac. :-/
Jack: I say, Stephen, coming it the bawdy are ye? Well, I'm going to take the high road, and just say that I've shared a bed with you in inns so many times that I'd think nothing at all of it.
I suppose it would depend on the circumstances though, hey hey?
TribalKittyKat: I thought I'd add you as a friend if you don't mind, Doctor. As for the question, I would be extremely confused... not entirely sad....but very confused.
Stephen: I am sorry I would make you even partly sad, but I do not see how your confusion would be extreme. I would be very glad to have you as a friend.
TribalKittyKat: I should have reworded that comment...I would not be entirely disappointed! I am very happy you will have me for a friend!
TribalKittyKat: Ok...I wouldn't be disappointed at all
Ale3000: "Why in God's name is there a lung sitting pickled on the bedside...oh, Stephen!"

February 20: On Wonderland

I have spent some time attempting to determine the nature of this location, and learned it is full of many very wondrous plants and beasts. Anyone who knows me at all will thus know how I will spend my time there. Though it seems as if normally unintelligent creatures are otherwise in Wonderland, so I would like to be introduced to them, and perhaps take tea with a few of them as well, though I admit I should not like the madder tea party. The Duchess perhaps, poor thing, outside her house. I might like to make the acquaintance of the Chesire Cat also, but then, I could do that on this community, and perhaps I shall at some point. I will not bother with the White Rabbit, since his behavior overall indicates he is a rather piteous creature, uncertain of himsel and covering it up with unpleasant behavior, and with an overfondness for rules and regulations. He might be able to keep his head in the prolonged presence of the Queen of Hearts, but many others would wish it off.

February 28: Two Relatively Brief Entries

What can you say is truly yours?

Very little. My thoughts, my beliefs, and a good deal of my feelings and knowledge are mine alone. Indeed, there is a good deal of knowledge that I alone am privy to, though much of it I would just as soon not have. There are more things that only Jack knows, and indeed most of what is mine is also his, and vice versa. We have no qualms about living out of each others' pockets, and so the only worldly goods that are truly mine are those he has no interest in, which mostly consists of whatever specimens I have on hand. Inanimate specimens. Despite his lack of interest in natural philosophy, I have known him to take a very improper interest in my sloth and for my wombat to take an unwanted interest in him, or rather, his hat.
I sometimes also feel as if my person, my heart, and whatever parts of my soul which do not belong to God are are at least partly in Jack's possession. I would like to think, however, that I own at least part of myself, for noone can own very much of Jack.

Write a ficlette based on the word: beautiful.

Most who looked at Diana called her beautiful, with her black hair and blue eyes. Stephen could say he found her ugly only once, that night at the opera. Brigid was a beautiful child. Stephen could never see her as otherwise.
Looking at Jack objectively, at his long blond hair and bright eyes, and his sizable bulk, Stephen concluded that he was a matter of taste; if one found big florid Englishmen to be beautiful, well then, he certainly was. If one did not mind scars and the effects of the sea on skin, but these things were not entirely seperate from his appeal. There were women in the world, Stephen was sure, who looked at them and saw what they stood for before they themselves. And Stephen could never fail to see the beauty of his heart, not during their worst times together.
Beauty was somewhat in the eye of the beholder, perhaps. But Stephen knew better than to think anyone would find him beautiful.

FannyFae: That sentiment is quite far from the truth, Doctor. *smiles*
TribalKittyKat: I am quite fond of wombats and am delighted to hear that you have one. They are digging creatures, am I not correct? How do you manage to keep it?
I am with Miss Fannyfae on this, Doctor.
Stephen: I kept it with a good amount of difficulty on two ships for some months before handing it over to a friend of mine at the Cape. He kept it until it died.
And that is very kind of both of you, but I have heard such protestations before, from Sophie.
TribaKittyKat: Well, I believe this is two against one!

March-April 2005