Re-Reading O’Brian

Commodore Aubrey and Dr. Maturin are drinking the last of the coffee.

Jack walked in, pouring himself a cup as he bade Stephen good morning, and said, ‘I am afraid they are all in.’

‘All in what?’

‘All the Frenchmen are in harbour, with their two Indiamen and the Victor. Have not you been on deck? We are lying off Port-Louis. The coffee has a damned odd taste.’

‘This I attribute to the excrement of rats. Rats have eaten our entire stock; and I take the present brew to be a mixture of the scrapings at the bottom of the sack.’

‘I thought it had a familiar tang,’ said Jack. ‘Killick, you may tell Mr Seymour, with my compliments, that you are to have a boat. And if you don’t find at least a stone of beans among the squadron, you need not come back. It is no use trying the Néréide; she don’t drink any.’

When the pot had been jealously divided down to its ultimate dregs, dregs that might have been called dubious, had there been any doubt of their nature, they went on deck.

O’Brian, Patrick. The Mauritius Command. p. 185.