I give to you one of the only times I have ever written fan fiction. And I’ve never enjoyed it more.
Our family just finished watching A&E’s “Hornblower” series and really enjoyed it. And as sort of a wind down from my last story, I’m writing this, while smiling practically the whole time.
So, since this is not the best known series in the world, I will make some introductions, so that even someone who’s never seen it before will enjoy. Only 3 characters will need to be introduced beforehand, the rest get introduced in the story itself
Horatio Hornblower (the guy on the left in the above picture): A young british naval Lieutenant at the time of the Napoleonic war. Follows orders well and has a high sense of honor and respect. A quieter person than most. Puts others before himself and has problems with self esteem. Very duty-oriented.
Archie Kennedy (the guy on the right, grinning his face off in the above picture): Another british naval Lieutenant and friend to Horatio. Very cheerful and likes people in general. Kind of a joker. He’s been bullied quite a bit by another officer and the stress of it has given him seizures in the past. I don’t know much about epilepsy, though. So, we won’t be going into that.
Captain Pellew: The captain of Horatio and Archie’s ship: The Indifatigable. Has taken quite a liking to Horatio over time. Generally a pretty awesome guy. 🙂
So, on to the story!
“A month off will be a welcome change, I expect?” Captain Pellew turned from staring out of the bay and to his Lieutenant.
Horatio Hornblower tightened his lips and gave a slight nod. “Yes, sir.”
It would be a change, to be sure. Though Horatio wasn’t all too sure about the “welcome” part.
The two men were silent for a few minutes. The wood deck of the Indefatigable creaked a little, rocking gently as a wave passed. Sounds of many shoes clunking on wood echoed in the background as men shuffled their belongings about, exciting their minds with the prospect of seeing loved ones again.
Everyone had someone to go home to. There were mothers, fathers and siblings. Old friends and sweethearts. All the people that the king’s men knew, at any given time, were secretly worried about them. Horatio bit his lip and tried not to think about the lack of people worried about him.
Pellew glanced sideways over at him, his mouth pulled slightly down at the corners. “You do have somewhere to go, Mr. Hornblower?”
“I… well… I think so, sir.” Horatio stammered. There were plenty of places he could go… England was a big place… he just hadn’t happened to decide on one single town yet.
Pellew eyed him for a moment more, then nodded and started back down to the main deck of the ship. “Very good. I hope you enjoy your time.”
Horatio followed him, “I shall try, sir.”
“Well, I…” He cleared his throat, “Serving my country is where I feel most needed at the moment, sir. Sometimes, a holiday in the middle leaves me feeling as if I’ve left something undone.” Horatio stopped next to his sea chest, sitting on deck and ready to be ferried to the shore.
“Next men, come aboard!” came a holler from the jollyboat down below.
Captain Pellew smiled, “Man can not live by duty alone. Every once and a while, a trip ashore is necessary to boost the spirits and let a man know that someone would weep if he died. Usually, the ones just back from leave are the ones with the clearest heads.” He clapped a hand on his young lieutenant’s arm, “Now, into the boat with you, Mr. Hornblower.”
“Aye-aye, sir,” Horatio mustered a smile back at his captain.
The trunks of the men going ashore were grouped together and the men climbed one by one down into the ferry and seated themselves as the loading of their luggage commenced aboard the next boat. Oars were slipped into the murky water and the rowers readied to pull for shore.
Horatio craned his neck up to see Captain Pellew.
“Enjoy your leave,” he said, suppressing the amused quirk threatening the corners of his mouth, “That’s an order, sir.”
Horatio grinned in spite of himself, “Aye-aye, Captain.”
Blue-coated men swarmed around the dock waiting for trunks, talking with shipmates and getting ready to leave the sea for a whole month. The clatter of shoes and carriage wheels drifted out across the water that sparkled with the sun’s final light.
Horatio sat atop his sea chest as he had for the past hour, watching the carriages and carts come and go and listening for destinations. Somewhere was bound to sound interesting eventually. He shifted his position and leaned back a little, glancing at the faces around him. Seeing no one he particularly knew, Horatio bent back over and continued listening for somewhere appealing.
“Hello!” a faint voice echoed through the crowd.
It was so lost in the noise that he barely noticed it. Footsteps came closer from behind him and the voice spoke again, louder.
Horatio turned at his name, then smiled and stood when he saw who had called it.
“Archie! I thought you’d already gone, you were up so early packing.”
Archie slapped his hand on Horatio’s shoulder, “And I thought that the distinguished Lieutenant Hornblower would have more important things to do than sit around at the docks all day with the likes of me, sir.” He grinned crookedly at Horatio.
Horatio laughed, “That’s enough, Archie. We’re on land now and calling me ‘sir’ is hardly necessary.” He looked his friend over, from his polished shoes to his freshly cleaned hat. “You look well,” he commented.
Archie looked down at his coat buttons, “Do I? Thank you. I wouldn’t expect to look well, if impatience has any effect on a man’s appearance.”
He stood on his toes to look over Horatio’s shoulder at the carriages coming in. Not seeming to see the one he was looking for, Archie went back down and smiled again. “You look pretty good too, Horatio. Where are you off to?”
“I didn’t have anywhere particular in mind, though I did have direct orders from the captain to enjoy myself. Is there an interesting town you’d like to suggest?”
Archie frowned, “Really? I thought you’d be going back to visit your father.”
“I did send a letter to ask if I was welcome and if the practice had been going well, but he never replied. And I would guess that if he hasn’t the money for postage, he certainly wouldn’t have the money to board me for a month.” Horatio shrugged and smiled a little. “Where are you going?”
“Back to my family. We have a house in the countryside,” Archie’s face lit up just at the mention of it. “I’ve missed them awfully this whole time. My father’s worker, George, is coming with the carriage.”
Horatio nodded, “You’ll have a wonderful time, I’m sure.” Archie didn’t seem to hear and continued to glance around for the carriage. The crowd was dissipating a little as the men left to their destinations one by one. A few more coaches clattered up to the dockside. An older man, one of the drivers, stood from his seat.
“Mr. Kennedy?” his voice cut through the crowd.
“That’s him,” Archie waved an arm and started walking towards the coach. Horatio watched as Archie and the older man, obviously George, found Archie’s trunk and hefted it onto the carriage.
It was tied down and George patted the top with a smile, then gestured Archie towards the door. Archie shook his head and nodded towards the dockside. George grinned and the two disappeared behind a group of seamen just coming in from another ship.
I wonder what they could be after? Horatio craned his neck and stepped a little away from his sea chest, looking for some lost thing of Archie’s. Nothing seemed to catch his eye. Archie was decently good at remembering what he needed, so what had he forgotten?
The sound of scraping wood behind him made him turn. George and Archie were each at an end of his trunk. They lifted it between them and started back towards the coach. Horatio stared for a second then caught up in a few long strides.
Archie turned his head, eyebrows raised.
Horatio strode up next to his friend and kept pace. “Archie, what are you doing?”
“Making sure a certain ‘Mr. Hornblower’ follows his orders. And ensuring his trunk makes it to Mr. Kennedy’s house.” The corner of Archie’s mouth twitched upwards a bit and he bit his cheek, trying to hide his smile.
“But, Archie…” Horatio shook his head at the sheer unexpectedness of Archie’s idea. “I… I can’t impose. Your family can’t just board me up for a month on no notice! I’m sure they have family plans… places to go, things they were planning to do…”
“Nothing you can’t be included in.”
They reached the carriage and started to go around back to load the trunk.
“You’re mister ‘logic’,” Archie reasoned, “And in the line of following Captain Pellew’s orders, the most logical choice for you…” his sentence was interrupted by a grunt as Horatio’s trunk was lifted up next to his, “… is to stay with me. It would be nearly impossible for you to disobey those orders at my family’s house.”
He grinned at Horatio and pushed his hat sideways, “C’mon. Get in.” Horatio opened and closed his mouth soundlessly, attempting to come up with more protests. Archie just laughed and pushed him into the coach seat.
George climbed up to the reins with remarkable swiftness for his age and clucked to the horses. People dispersed from in front of the clattering hooves and the carriage moved smoothly down the cobbled road, starting its journey to the Kennedy house.
“Archie, really,” Horatio argued, “I absolutely assure you that I will not enjoy myself if I know that I’m imposing.”
“Oh, you don’t know the Kennedys.” Archie smiled, “We just love it when people impose.”
Hope you liked it! The rest shall be episodically forthcoming. 😉
Have you seen or read Horatio Hornblower before?
Favorite parts or lines?
Please comment and tell me!