A glance from Hornblower to Brown sufficed to spread the table with the delicacies suitable for the occasion which Brown could select from the stores Barbara had sent on board- crock, not nearly rancid yet; strawberry jam; a heavily smoked ham; a smoked mutton ham from an Exmoor farm; Cheddar and Stilton cheese; potted char.
Brown had a brilliant idea, and squeezed some of the dwindling store of lemons for lemonade in order to disguise the flavour of the ship’s water;
he knew that Hornblower was quite incapable of drinking beer,
even small beer, at breakfast time.
° ap 2 ° Desperately Evening
“That is caviare,” she explained to him, “and this is vodka, the drink of the people, but I think that you will find that the two are admirably suited to each other.”
The Countess was right. The grey, unappetizing-looking stuff was perfectly delicious. Hornblower sipped cautiously at the vodka, and in his present highly strung condition hardly
noticed the first fierce bite of the liquor; but there was no doubt that vodka and caviare blended together exquisitely.
The buffet was covered with foods of all kinds. Countess Hornblower went a fair way of tackling them all.
There was a dish apparently of stewed mushrooms that was excellent; slices of smoked fish; an unidentifiable salad; some varieties of cheese; eggs both hot and cold; a sort of ragout of pork.