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Rears and Vices

Players were obliged to use some of the following words in each game:
absurd, brute, cabbage, callipygian, froward, frumenty, futtock, glabrous, gumbril, perplexed, uncommon, wombat
It was suggested, perhaps as a joke, that the words should be used in order.

The Game

"It is ABSURD to have seamen as servants; the merest BRUTE-beasts ashore," said Lord Burnfield loudly.

Killick's disapproving, shrewish face appeared at the door. "Wittles is up!" he cried, with a backwards jerk of his thumb, as the scent of boiled mutton and CABBAGE wafted in from behind him. "Which I heard that," he added in a muttered undertone, just quietly enough to be denied.

Sophie threw Lord Burnfield a quick, apologetic glance and

said, "Just a minute more, if you please, Lord B. If you could but raise your knee a trifle..."

She was painting a portrait of Jack as a surprise present for their impending wedding anniversary. It was to be in the CALLIPYGIAN mode, showing to advantage Admiral Aubrey's curves. Every scar and laughter line had been limned with loving attention, but with Jack so long at sea she had been a little hazy on one or two of the more confidential details. Lord Burnfield, an otherwise undistinguished peer who was acknowledged as having the shapeliest left buttock in the kingdom, had agreed to help. He was posed with right leg braced upon a sea chest, grasping a telescope in one hand, gazing through it as if at a fat prize on the horizon, the other hand employed carving at a plum duff.

It had been a fraught morning of cramps and distractions. At last artist and model breathed a sigh of relief, and over the faint despairing hiss of "Wittles!" from the kitchen there came a familiar knock at the front door.

Jack sat at the head of the table, eating the last of his mutton with silent avidity. The misunderstanding with Lord Burnfield had been quite dispelled, though it would be some time before the peer recovered from being called a "wicked, FROWARD, mother-naked reptile". Jack contemplated upon what pudding would be—he longed for a syllabub or FRUMENTY, but quite lost his appetite at the thought of plum duff.

"Tell me, Admiral," said Lord Burnfield, seated to his right, and now fully, if hastily, dressed. "What do you think of

the proposed efficiency measures in the ship-building programme?"

Jack launched into a detailed and highly technical reply, encompassing Admiralty incompetence, the wickedness of the dockyard maties, landsmen's speculation and Whiggish innovations, the undesirability thereof. Burnfield was content to set to the rather good mutton and let the unfamiliar jargon flow over him, while nodding and wearing the expression of shrewd incomprehension that had served him so well in the Lords. Only the vehement phrase "Belay the d_____ FUTTOCKs!" caused him to cease chewing for a few seconds before the welcome realization that Aubrey's passion was directed elsewhere.

His gaze wandered back to the portrait and its admirable upper thigh, recognizably his own though carpeted with stiff golden bristles, in this respect so unlike the GLABROUS perfection of the original. Indeed it was this detail that had finally persuaded Jack to release Lord Burnfield's windpipe.

Killick paused and, at a nod from Jack, when all of the plates had been at last cleared away, triumphantly bought in the marvellous marzipan model of the frame of a ship. The chef was particularly proud of the starboard GUMBRILs, beautifully delineated in spun sugar.

"What splendid futtocks!" said the Admiral.

"Jack!" cried Sophie, PERPLEXED, and glancing from her husband to the portrait, which had been left propped next to the dining room door.

"Sweet, and UNCOMMON delicate," continued Jack, gazing fondly at the model Surprise. "Go on, my dear, you could start at the stern and nibble your way around to the waist."

Mrs Aubrey, her cheeks crimson, gaped in astonishment, first at the portrait, then her husband, then at their guest.

She followed her husband's gaze to the edible Surprise. "Futtocks are a nautical term, I collect?"

Jack was amazed that after very many years as a sea-officer's wife, Sophie could remain ignorant of so basic a word. He was about to explain, when Fanny piped up.

"Oh, Papa, what is to become of the WOMBAT that Dr Maturin wishes to find a home for?"

Jack thought of all the fine clothes and hats that Lord Burnfield no doubt possessed. He turned to that peer.

"I hear, Sir, that no gentleman's establishment is complete these days without a resident marsupial..."



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