ARCHIE'S JOURNAL
by Michele

A New Arrival and a Desperate Plan

I can put an end to this.

It will take some time, and it may hurt.. for a while, any way...
But it will be worth it.

For ALL of us...

Yester-day, when the guard brought that miserable excuse for food at
dinner-time, I did not eat it. Hunter inhaled his... I think it was
supposed to be broth, or something... Horatio bravely consumed his
portion, pretending not to notice the smell of it. I took one look
at it and laid it on the bench next to my bed.

It was easy. Much easier than I had imagined.

Horatio looked at the offensive bowl, and then at me. `Archie..
you should eat...' he said. Commanding as always.

`No... I'm not hungry...'

`Are you all right??' Oh yes. He REALLY cares one way or
other.

`I am simply not hungry, Mr Hornblower. There is nothing more to
it than that.'

I kept my voice steady, not wanting it to betray my bitterness,
anger, and despair. I had one weapon left -- ONE means of control in
my life, and I was going to use it. The h--l with his Majesty's
Navy, and the h--l with the great Horatio Hornblower.

***********************

To-day it was much easier. The pain deep inside of me, and the
dizziness are already beginning to subside, and I imagine I am
growing accustomed to the hunger so that I can scarcely even feel it
any longer. It almost feels like just a little weakness, perhaps the
sort that a man feels when he has a cold coming on, or when he has
exerted himself for too long in the hot sun.

The thirst is more difficult to bear, however, and I confess I have
already weakened in my resolve to drink nothing. I must do better.

The impetus came this afternoon. A woman came to the cell! A very
beautiful woman, who smelt of lavender, and whose creamy white skin
reminded me of the ladies back home... of something from my youth --
something which I cannot quite place: more a feeling than a clear
recollection... and of my mother... The sight of her, the sound of
her lyrical voice, and the feel of her gentle presence, was almost
enough to give me hope. ALMOST. But then, the melancholy took firm
hold once more -- much stronger now, in fact -- and I resolved more
than ever that I would carry out my plan.

She bade Horatio come with her. Despite my anger at him, I confess I
worried just a little, that perhaps the Don might be using her to
lure him to some unknown torture. But it was strange -- Horatio and
Hunter seemed to know her. Horatio went with her straightaway, and
of course I could get no information from Hunter, so I was left to
wonder. Not that I really care.

*********************

As it turns out, the woman is someone called The Duchess of
Wharfedale. I might have known. Horatio ALWAYS associates with only
the best of blood -- it may further his precious career. And to add
insult to injury, her presence here has apparently become some excuse
for Horatio to be further privileged to have two-hour walks with her
every afternoon. Walks! Outside, in the sun! Whilst Hunter and I
rot here with the disgusting smell of unwashed bodies (and their
leavings) and that miserable excuse for dinner!

Before my `friend' cut me adrift, *I* outranked HIM!! *I*
was the senior midshipman!! *I*should have been the one privileged
for these walks!! I know not the length of Hunter's service, and
quite honestly I do not CARE -- but still I believe that *I* should
have been ranking officer here!!!! It should have been ME!!!! Me..
out in the sun....

But, I cannot walk any way... So I imagine it is of no matter...

Horatio doesn't care one bit about me... He just goes out for
his walks.. promenading on cliffs having conversations with a
beautiful woman... he is on HOLIDAY here! The REST of us are in
prison. He doesn't care.. he doesn't care, as long as he
gets to have
his walks in the sun and his fine feminine company...

I imagine he is getting something else as well....

Well, no matter. I shan't be here to see his privileged
greatness promenading about for much longer, I fancy.

Yes. It is becoming MUCH easier now. Soon, I shall just quietly
drift off, perhaps in the darkness of night, and they will never know
what happened to me. I simply shall not be here in the morning. I
will be in a better place...