II. Affairs of Land
His mind was shards like shattered glass spread out against
of memories, flowing and ebbing against his unconcious mind.
Butterflies beat their wings across his mental horizon, leaving an
array of shapeless colors and etches of insubstantial figures in his
view. The colors swirled and coalesced, then exploded into the
infinite, as he tried to make sense of it all.
The first thing he remembered seeing was the face of a middle-aged
man staring over him. The face wasn't looking directly at him, but at
something past him. He turned his view and saw a shiny, metallic
object, catching light from somewhere and refracting it into his
eyes. The light pulsated into his mind, and he closed his eyes,
squinting at the unusual sensation.
"Ah...I see you're awake." A calm, dulcimer voice
above, or from beyond. A disjointed and formless thought told him the
voice belonged to the face.
"What....I don't remember..." He said, and didn't
know what he should
say otherwise. His own words sounded to him like a proclamation of
"You were knocked unconcious while trying to secure a
vessel in the
middle of a mutiny. Your name is Captain Suffolk, master of His
Majesty's Ship, The Valiant. Do you remember now?" The voice sounded
kind. Why he should realize this, he did not know.
"Suffolk....my name..." In a flood of overwhelming
memories came back to him. Images flashed through his mind's eye,
merging into a single important thought- I'm alive.
"Yes, and my name is Doctor Hornblower. Welcome to Jamaica, Captain."
"Jamaica...." Suffolk repeated as his mind tried
to grasp onto the
concept presented to him. It was an island south of America,
and...! "The American ship, what happened to it?" Suffolk sat up in
his bed, although he felt suddenly dizzy because of it.
"Captain, you and your crew suceeded in securing the vessel
putting down the insurgents on it. There are tales of heroism running
around here, telling how you wounded the mutinous leader, and then
took a heavy blow yourself." The doctor screwed up his eyes and then
fumbled into his pocket. "This came from England for you."
Suffolk took the leader and read it as best he could, although
penned words seemed to boil an angry red, searing his sight. "What's
this? Whatever this is, I don't think it's for me."
The doctor took back the letter, read it and then raised his
eyebrows. "Excuse me sir, I gave you the wrong letter. This one is
from my son, saying he's going to enter the Naval Academy in the
fall. Here is the real one."
Suffolk opened the envelope sealed with the wax of royalty
"Most esteemed Captain S. D. Suffolk,
I am delivering with this letter instructions for it to be
once you have recovered. Tales of your gallantry have reached even
England. The ship you saved docked on our shores and the delegation
was transported to London. They all say how there was a mutiny on
board, but you and your men suppressed it. Well done!
Your brother is doing well in the House of Lords because of
it- he is
having trouble keeping people from his castle, people who want to see
the legendary hero. Well, this may just be a passing phase, sir, but
I trust my meaning is taken.
Upon your full recovery, you are requested and required to
the Admiralty for promotion to Rear Admiral of his Majesty's forces.
Your twenty-nine year service record, including this recent incident,
speaks for itself. You are to be appointed Dean of the Naval Academy.
I believe the good doctor Hornblower, whom is on duty combating the
plague of malaria, has a son enrolled there.
You will be responsible for overseeing and guiding the young
which would soon defend the nation of Britain. It is with pride that
entrust to you these new duties, Mr. Suffolk. I shall see you at your
Lord H. Nelson,
Commander of the British Navy."
Suffolk put the letter down on the nightstand beside him in
disbelief. No less a person than Admiral Nelson wrote a letter
specifically to him! But then....that begged the question, since it
had to travel by sea, and the Valiant had a three-day head start, how
long had he been unconscious? To him, a mere moment passed from what
he remembered on board the Animus, to now where he was in a
completely different land. He asked Doctor Hornblower as much.
"Well, sir, you've been asleep, I imagine, three months
doctor said as his recollected the span of time that distanced
Suffolk from himself. "You've been here about two weeks, until they
alerted me of the nature of your afflication, whereupon I prescribed
a strong dose of caffiene for your breakfast. You awoke about an hour
Suffolk's mind reeled. He felt like a child driven to understand
complexities of astrophysics, to fully know what the universe was,
despite the fact all he had seen was stars in the sky that appeared
equidistant from one another. His mind stretched at the concept of
weeks, until he remembered the Julian and Georgian calendars,
something he had learned as a youth. He had been abed for fourteen
days, approxiamately. What had happened to his ship while he was
unconcious, not only at Jamaica, but at sea? Sharp lances dashed into
his cranium, and he laid back down, breaking into a bit of a sweat.
The doctor sauntered over and put his hand to Suffolk's forehead.
huh, you've got a fever. This is most likely due to the fact that you
haven't eaten as a healthy man should. Your second, Leftenant Lamsey,
informed me you survived by having water forced down your throat;
otherwise, you may have simply withered away."
Suffolk put his forearm over his eyes. He didn't want to see
light coming from the window, and he didn't want to see it reflected
off that silvery, shiny object the doctor had hanging about his neck.
He couldn't understand what the light was, or why it was bothering
him. "What are you saying, exactly?"
"A body needs nourishment to survive. However, it is just
that a brain needs its own sort of nourishment to survive. When you
don't eat, your mind becomes laxed, it is taxed for drawing what it
needs when those supplies are no longer in abudance. I'd say you're
experiencing something like a general confusion about everything, and
this is because you haven't eaten. I believe once you have one good
meal, you will return to your fullest capacity." Doctor Hornblower
fidgeted at his shirt, trying to keep it from wrinkling as it was
prone to do.
Suffolk thought about his new posting in the homeland, and
realized that he couldn't just simply walk there, as he had first
thought. "Who is to take me to my new posting?" He asked, squinting
his eyes shut.
"The Indefatigible is here in port. Captain Pellew is
to convey you
to your new posting." The doctor looked at the ceiling; some of the
paint was beginning to chip away. "I'm afraid, though, the Valiant
has already left dock- your man Lamsey has been promoted to Captain."
"Bugger all..." Suffolk said under his breath. Too
much had happened
in the world while he was asleep.
Doctor Hornblower adjusted the device about his neck and then
closely at his ailing patient. "Now, concerning your first meal, I
have recommended something light, toast with a cup of tea." He said
this lightly, and the air carried his words throughout the room.
"I should think my stomach would be most satisfied with
a large steak
and a pitcher of beer." Suffolk grumbled, not wanting his first meal
to be a light one, but an English one.
"Now, now, sir, we can't have you eating heavily before
The doctor began to explain. "Think of it this way...when you fast
for a long time, your digestive track becomes accustomed to not
having nourishment, and begins to find ways to conserve energy. I
have case studies of monks who lived on water for nearly 3 years, and
couldn't eat anything solid without throwing it up again for a month.
In your case, a day's worth of light eating should do the trick. If
you try to put that poison that most people call ale into your
system, then you'd probably do yourself more harm than good. Take it
easy, sir, lest you remain here longer than necessary."
Suffolk nodded bitterly. He was really hungry for a good English
On the deck of the Indefatigible, Captain Pellew was perusing
reports concerning Admiral Suffolk's gallantry, and apparent wisdom.
The incident was beyond belief....such men of moral character were
very rare indeed in the English Navy. When Pellew found one, he made
it his business to know the man more personally.
So, after he had read the reports, he glanced over Suffolk's
record and all throughout his being, a feeling of awe crept over him.
First, there was detailed his one and a half year service as
Midshipman, in which he led very successful small operations, and
then his two month term as acting leftenant, where it was fabled he
had took command of the Falcon and defeated four Spanish frigates
alone. His ascent to captain had proceeded quickly, even though on
his third command, the Valiant, he had lead only two missions before
being promoted to a shore post.
"Are there such men as these on the wide Earth?"
himself. "Such men of honor and of duty...is England ready for such
He pondered the question and couldn't find an answer. He would
to get to know Suffolk, the man, not just Suffolk, the officer. When
he found that out...Pellew reasoned he would know a lot more about
himself because of it.
Alone, Suffolk stumbled onto his feet and pulled the shutters
denying the daylight its entry into his vision. As he did so, shadows
jumped into the room- everything seemed to him to be composed a long
stretching darkness. He closed his eyes, and walked through his
shadow. On the other side, beyond the corporeal understanding he held
was a burst of colors, a silence that permeated everything; even when
he snapped his fingers, it made no sound. Rays of phosphroscent
energy raced past him- he had the sensation that he was crossing
dimensions, even though the idea of a fourth dimension was generally
dismissed as folly, he had no other explanation. At the center of his
vision, purple and blue swirled together, drawing him towards the
epicenter of everything.
He opened his eyes again, and there was the bed he had lain
the nightstand with the letter from Lord Nelson. It took him a moment
to realize where he was, and that perhaps everything he had seen was
merely a result of his mind being overtaxed and undersupplied. He
picked up the letter and read it again. The words howled at him,
blazing a path across the page they were writ upon. The signature
caught on fire, leaping up from the page. Suffolk blinked, and it was
gone again. He was confused by everything; nothing he had seen was
making any sense.
He walked over to the blinds again, and tried opening them
Outside, he saw a field of endless grass, that stretched into
infinity, inviting him to lay upon it, to relax, and forget the cares
that plagued his waking thoughts. He imagined himself stretched out
on the field, his body gracing the blades of grass beneath him, a
gentle breeze flowing over his body, discovering his senses, and then
passing once more. He thought of himself relaxing, truly relaxing,
without a care in the world, and knew, deep within the core of his
being, that from all the time in his life, he had not been allowed to
relax, as long as he could remember.
Suffolk closed the shutter again when he heard a knock on the
The most difficult challenge was finding the door in the first place;
when he did, he found Captain Pellew on the other side. His face was
one of gravity, respect and the straightforward honesty that was his
own special trademark. Suffolk had a feeling that something
monumental and Earth-changing was about to occur.
Despite this inhibitions, he welcomed the Captain in anyway.
"Greetings, Admiral." Pellew said jovially as he
room, closing the door gently behind him. He felt, all within the
completeness of his soul that here was a man, here, standing before
him, that explemplified duty to his country and honor above all else.
Here was a man worthy of his respect- something Pellew didn't have
the opportunity of discovering all too often.
Suffolk sat at the foot of his bed, still dressed in his
nightclothes, his eyebrows slightly raised, as if a fascinating
thought grappled his mind. "I don't think I can get quite used to
having someone call me that." The man said quietly, pontificating on
the contents of his own private cogitation.
"Why do you say that, sir?" Pellew questioned, more
of himself than
of Suffolk. It was if, suddenly, a crack appeared in all his notions
and all of his beliefs, a crack that might become a deep crevice, in
Suffolk looked up at Pellew and grinned a small, understated
find it very peculair that I, while leading a mission, should receive
glories for actions I did not perform. If you will recall, sir, my
Second Leftenant was second-in-command of the mission, not Leftenant
Lamsey, who received the generous promotion to Captain. Why do you
suppose these things have occured, and who do you suppose is driving
Pellew's mind reeled in shock. There it was, all laid out before
the crack he perceived. If Suffolk's premises were correct, something
was afoul in the English Navy. Why, indeed, would credit be given
where it was not due? Why would a man be promoted for receiving an
injurious blow to his head? "I....do not know." Pellew said slowly,
weighing everything he knew against everything he knew was false.
There would always be accusations of traitors and conspiracies
(Pellew secretly believed it came with having an orderly government),
but what if one of them proved correct?
"Of late, I have...been perceiving more than I should.
My eyes seem
to know what is in the world, and beyond it. I have visions that my
understanding cannot cope with, nor piece into sensible components.
Doctor Hornblower said my mind was malfunctioning because I hadn't
eaten." Suffolk paused, but Captain Pellew said nothing. "I do not
know if his assessment is accurate. In truth, I do not know what is
going on, only I am able to see more now than I did before....the
A knock came on the door and Pellew's heart nearly leapt out
Suffolk rose lightly from the bed and opened the door. Behind
a colored serving-woman, bearing toast and tea. Suffolk recognized
who had sent it immeadiately. "Well, I suppose I'm to be getting
healthier now. Thank you, madam." He said respectfully to the
servant, who bowed, and left quietly.
Suffolk then sat down on his bed and took a large bite out
toast. He really was hungry! "So, Captain, what say you to this?"
Suffolk said after he had swallowed his first bite.
"There are always rumors of some sort or another..."
cautiously. "If it is of any intrest to you, I have heard stories of
British ships lowering their flags and setting sail for some unknown
destination. They say that our Empire is beginning to turn against
itself, that our...hold is too tenuous in all of our colonies- that
we are stretching ourselves too thin on the seas."
Suffolk nodded, chewing again. He found it to be an accurate
assesment; one could not expect to conquer a dozen and a half foreign
lands and expect the peoples inhabiting those places to just sit idly
by- even the black-a-moors had their own sort of dignity, unclaimable
by any form of government or law. There would be an expectable
rebellion, as the American colonists had proved could happen. Suffolk
thought about it for a moment, and then considered the possibility
that all men on the wide Earth were not merely slaves, or playthings
at some ruler's whim, but real people with immortal souls crying out
from within their bodies to be free, to have that freedom which is
often spoken, and hardly seen.
"Then it would mean Civil War, would it not?" Suffolk
he knew what he was implying.
"I scarcely can believe it possible, but it has happened..."
remember Oliver Cromwell.
"It has, and it may again. When the doctor declares me
mentally fit, we shall to England go. Until then, Captain, I suggest
you watch your back carefully."
Pellew shuddered and wondered what the times were coming to.
had no choice in the matter but to investigate further and discover
whether Suffolk's promotion was merely a lapse of judgment from the
higher-ups, or whether it signified a deep danger from within England
Pellew left the room, and, after Suffolk had eaten his meal,
it was, he dozed off to sleep, dreaming fitful nightmares.