HEN I was two and twenty years of age, in the Year of our Lord Seventeen hundred and Ninety Eight, I was accepted as a Ship's Surgeon aboard the HMS Zealous, a 74-gun ship of the line, under Captain Samuel Hood.
While aboard, that first year I met Midshipman Thomas Cuthbert... the gunroom all called him 'Cuddy'.
The gunroom? Oh yes of course, forgive me, I too was ignorant of the workings of His Majesty's Navy, and had to learn as I went along. 'Gunroom' is the Naval term for the Junior Officer's mess cabin, it's also used to refer to those that have the right to occupy that gunroom, meaning "the officers of the gunroom".
Cuddy was a most amiable fellow, well read and quite proficient as an officer. He could laugh at nigh anything. There was nothing that he could not gamble on, he must have lost three years wages over the course of our service together. And a stout lover of mirth and good liquor.
He was every bit the spitting image of Thomas Rowlandson's vision of a midshipman circa 1799, he even had the long golden locks.