By Frederick Marryat
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Additional resources for Frank Mildmay or the Naval Officer
My pride having been hurt that these men should have seen me flinch, I will own that I was secretly pleased when I saw them removed beyond the reach of human interrogation. It would be difficult to describe my feelings on this occasion. Not six weeks before, I was the robber of hen-roosts and gardens—the hero of a horse-pond, ducking an usher—now suddenly, and almost without any previous warning or reflection, placed in the midst of carnage, and an actor of one of those grand events by which the fate of the civilised world was to be decided.
As I increased in strength and stature, I showed more determined resistance to arbitrary power: an occasional turnup with boys of my own size (for the best friends will quarrel), and the supernumerary midshipmen sent on board for a passage, generally ended or The Naval Officer 55 in establishing my dominion or insuring for me a peaceable neutrality. I became a scientific pugilist, and now and then took a brush with an oldster; and although overpowered, yet I displayed so much prowess, that my enemies became cautious how they renewed a struggle which they perceived became daily more arduous; till at last, like the lion’s whelp, my play ceased to be a joke, and I was left to enjoy that tranquillity, which few found it safe or convenient to disturb.
And I honestly own that the happiest hours I had passed in that ship were during my seclusion among these honest tars. Whether my enemies discovered this or not, I cannot say; but shortly after our arrival I was sent for by the captain into his own cabin, where I received a lecture on my misconduct, both as to my supposed irritable and quarrelsome disposition, and also for losing the men out of the boat. “In other respects,” he added, “your punishment would have been much more severe but for your general good conduct; and I have no doubt, from this little well-timed severity, that you will in future conduct yourself with more propriety.