‘Change Of Treatment’ by W.W. Jacobs

Jacobs, W.W. 1896

Change Of Treatment by W.W. Jacobs, 1894

The magic trick:

Recreating the world of 19th century high seas living 

I only knew Jacobs from his horror story, “The Monkey’s Paw.” This is a much different kind of story. “Change Of Treatment” is a comic tale of the sea. If that description sounds pleasing to you, well then, here you go. If not, that’s all right, I understand.

There’s no doubt this kind of story is dated. You can see the plot twist a mile away. But perhaps that is part of its charm at this point. For 20 minutes of reading time it’s fun to be transported onto a 19th century ship. The narration captures the language very well. I don’t actually know, of course, if it’s accurate. But the sailors’ colloquialisms here create a world that is unique from anything remotely modern. That’s enough for me. And that’s quite a trick on Jacobs’s part.

The selection:

“‘You get to bed at once,” says the skipper, taking away the trumpet, an’ shaking his ‘ed. ‘It’s a fortunate thing for you, my lad, you’re in skilled hands. With care, I believe I can pull you round. How does that medicine suit you, Dan?’

“‘Beautiful, sir,’ says Dan. ‘It’s wonderful soothing, I slep’ like a new-born babe arter it.’

‘”I’ll send you some more,’ ses the skipper. ‘You’re not to get up mind, either of you.’

“‘All right, sir,’ ses the two in very faint voices, an’ the skipper went away arter telling us to be careful not to make a noise.


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