Deleted scenes: “Sailor’s Delight”

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Table of Contents

  1. Brine’s Guernsey
  2. If you knew the half of it
  3. Elie returns home late
  4. Sunday dinner
  5. No more subterfuge



This originally appeared in the conversation about Brine’s uniform, early in Chapter 4.


Brine looked down at his Guernsey. Elie tried to avert his eyes from the nipples. “I don’t look much like a gentleman, do I? I wouldn’t dare wear this in the wardroom, and I don’t know why not. It’s warm and well-made and practical and I don’t even think I look half-bad in it.”

“It’s only because the ordinary seamen wear it,” Elie said. “It’s got nothing to do with the garment per se.”

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This exchange originally appeared in Chapter 4, after Elie asked Augie if he and Miss Turner planned to have children, immediately following the line “Of course I’ll pay for them if she wants them.”

(Augie’s joke about the crown refers to a line I cut from the conversation about epaulets and the 1812 changes to the uniform regulations: “They’d even given the masters’ mates—future commissioned officers—a crown on their buttons, and left the masters with the old Navy Board anchors.” Trufax!)


“You know you don’t purchase babies at a ship chandlery, don’t you?” Elie meant it as a joke, but he could feel Brine stiffen. “Sorry, I—”

“Would I be more suitable for fatherhood if I were fucking whores at every opportunity?” Brine said sharply. “I never thought you of all people—I’ve never seen anybody so mortified at walking past the sailor’s hammocks on pay-day.”

Elie flushed. He was always a bit uncomfortable at the way sailors fucked in plain sight on navy ships, but he’d got more or less used to it over the years—unless Brine was looking at him. “That’s really not what I meant,” he said, startled by Brine’s vehemence. “I didn’t mean—anything. Your turn of phrase struck me as funny, but I shouldn’t have— I’m sorry. I think it’s nice that you don’t—that you resist temptation. I admire it. Honestly.”

Brine let out a choked laugh. “If you knew the half of it, you’d put me up for sainthood. That is—not sainthood, I suppose. Sorry. Er—”

“A medal,” Elie suggested. “For conspicuous lack of gallantry.”

“My honor wouldn’t allow me to accept it unless you put a crown on it,” Brine warned him.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

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This was cut from the end of Chapter 11, after Elie’s conversation with Miss Turner at the counting house.


He came home late that night, mind a jumble and barely half an hour more of work done on the prize accounting. He heard Brine’s door open as he went into his room. “Benezet?”

Elie shut his door with a click that was neither loud enough to sound petulant, or quiet enough to sound like sneaking. I didn’t hear you, that click said. I wasn’t even thinking about you. Possibly I’ve never thought about you in my life.

Elie slung his pack down with a similarly indifferent thump, and then he held his breath and listened.

The click was so quiet he barely heard it. Elie felt a pang of guilt, at the idea of Brine easing his door shut, deflated—hoping Elie wouldn’t hear it and guess that Brine’s eagerness had outpaced his own.

Elie crouched down next to his pack and took deep breaths until the pressure behind his eyes faded.

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Originally, Sunday evening dinner happened on the page.


Dinner Sunday evening was the last meal before the Yom Kippur fast. Leah pulled Charlotte into the kitchen, ostensibly to help with some last minute preparations. When they came out, Leah’s eyes were red and Charlotte looked embarrassed and kept trying to shrug off her mother’s arm, but when Elie met the girl’s eyes, she grinned at him and nodded.

“I’ll take good care of her,” Elie promised again.

Leah punched his arm. “You’d better.”

“What was that about?” Brine asked.

“I’m taking my niece on as an assistant.”

Brine smiled. “How old is she?”


Brine laughed. “Now you’ll have to stop for lunch. Sixteen-year-olds never stop eating.”

“Except on fast days,” Charlotte said glumly. “I hate Yom Kippur.”

“I hated it when I was your age too,” Elie said. “I used to hide chapbooks inside my siddur.”

“Don’t give her any ideas,” Leah said. “All right, Mr. Brine, what’s the toast today?”

Brine raised his glass. “To absent friends.”

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This was cut from the beginning of Chapter 15, after Brine asks Elie to delay the prize accounting until he ships out again.


Brine was watching him, and the look on his face was making Elie giddy enough that he kept talking, and that way if Brine did what Elie hoped, Elie would have a little longer to hope for it, and if he didn’t—then Elie would still have a little longer to hope for it.

“It’s your life,” he said, “and what you want to do about Miss Turner is up to you, but if you want me to handle it, you have to tell her you’re not going to marry her, because my nerves can’t take any more subterfuge and circumlocution. And then sort it out with her and whatever you two decide, I promise you I can do paperwork for it. If she’s worried about the scandal of a breach of promise settlement, we can make it out to be a bequest from a distant relative, or you can stay formally engaged and settle the money on her, or we could—”

Brine’s lips twitched. “No more subterfuge?”

Elie grinned at him. “I care about the spirit of the Law,” he said. “But in this world, if you want to get anything done you need a certain comfort with loopholes. I’m sure you’ve noticed that yourself.”

Brine leaned in, then stopped with a jerk. Elie’s hope started to fade. Well, it had been nice while it lasted.

Then Brine said, in such a low voice Elie hardly heard him, “Should I wait for the gates to close?”

“To do what?”

Brine leaned closer, until his lips brushed Elie’s ear. “What do you think?”

Elie’s heart swelled. “I know not everyone agrees with me,” he said, “but I don’t believe HaShem has people flogged round the fleet for sodomy like a court martial.”

Brine put one hand flat on the door by Elie’s ear, and curled the other around Elie’s waist, so that seemed to confirm they were both talking about sodomy.

“Of course conjugal relations are forbidden during the fast,” Elie added reluctantly, “but we’re not married, so…”

Brine nodded sagely. “Loopholes.”

“Right. And eating and drinking are the only Yom Kippur prohibitions spelled out in the Torah, and anyway Hillel said, ‘What you’d hate if someone did it to you, don’t do to them. That’s the whole Torah; the rest is exegesis.’”

“I wouldn’t hate it,” Brine said, “if you did it to me.”

Elie tugged him closer by his lapels. Cardamom and orange peel. Drat. “Miss Turner,” he got out. “You’re still engaged.”

“I’ll talk to her. Please, Benezet.”

“Call me Elie.”

Brine’s mouth curved. “Elie.”

Oh, that was— “You promise?” he got out. “Please don’t promise if you can’t keep it. I’ll understand. I—I—” He didn’t understand. He could barely understand anything—not even his own name, which had definitely never sounded like that in anyone else’s mouth, yielding as a ripe plum. Elie had never been so hungry in his life, he was dying of it, you were allowed to eat even on Yom Kippur if it was to save your life—


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