Before the Embarkation
by Phillipa

NOTE: This is about the day before everyone got back to Justinian and HH
came aboard at the beginning of "The Duel." This is written from Simpsons
point of view. I have a challenge for anyone of our wonderful writers to
write about that time: a day or so (right before HH came aboard and men
had to return to Justinian. From other characters point of view: Horatios
(right before he got on I guess), Archies, Claytons, Styles, etc. Whats
happening right before Our Hero gets on. You could even fit Pellew in
somehow, I am sure.

NOTE2: This takes place directly before the beginning of "The Duel." I
have supposed that when HH comes aboard its shortly after all other men
came from shore leaves.

I dedicate this to all of you wonderful writers who have made me cry,
laugh and sit back in wonder at your skill. I am in awe of your talent.

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

Jack Simpson moved his cloak closer around him as he shivered in the fog.
"Damn this cursed weather," he muttered under his breath. "Damn, damn, damn!"

At present the weather at Spithead was the least of his troubles. The
preposterous examination board had failed to confirm his commission and
he was back to Midshipman again. At his age! It was stupid, ridiculous
and unjust. It was his 8th time! And the worst was that he could do
nothing to those bigwigs who so casually messed up his examination.
Nothing. But someone had to pay.and he could even think who.so many
alternatives!

He savagely thrust away the hand of some nameless beggar and continued on
his way in the muddy lane. Nothing was going as expected this break. Not
only did he not get his promotion, but his father refused to give him any
more money for the settlement of his most urgent debts (good thing I
shall be at sea again.no duns there), and Moll the read-headed wench he
fancied at the Three Mermaids tavern was occupied with another customer
when he called.

Well, he was back now, and she better be receptive this time, he thought
entering the dim interior of the ale-house.

"Wheres Moll?" he growled at the proprietor

"Be down soon, S-s-sir. I'll tell Sally to tell he you've come." stammered
the man unnerved by his scowl. Mad Jack was best to avoid when he was in
one of his moods. A pity they were on him most of the time.

"Well. A whiskey. Now, dammit!" Was all the reply.

The little man found that statement inordinately comforting: at least the
chairs were not flying at his head, so all was well.

Simpson sipped his whiskey silently. "A target, I need a target." He was
not analytical so could not phrase this clearly, but the intention was
there nevertheless. He could never hope to pick on his superiors, even he
realized that. No Keene, Eccleston and Chad were all out of his reach.
Unfortunately. And though in a way it was safer to take it out on the
sailors he did not fancy to have a knife slipped in between his ribs when
he slept. He could easily imagine that fellow, what was his name.Styles,
doing it for example. A lot of those fellows were pressed from prisons
after all. No, best leave them to their own amusement.

Well, that left his fellow midshipmen, and he, decided Simpson
philosophically, was not a man to quibble at what fate had given him.
"His brother officers" it were to be. He couldn't terrorize all of them at
once, so he better pick a few and concentrate..who said he wouldn't make a
good officer? He knew all about divide and conquer. Heather and Cleveland
were too boring, too bland, too unimaginative. Rather like messing with
blanks. In a way productive, but not worth the effort. Clayton? He might
have been ideal for his purposes once, but no more. The man was a
nonentity. Give him a drink and he won't care about anything else..though
he might have possibilities if all other sources failed. But they
wouldn't. There was always Kennedy after all..Simpson smiled for the first
time today. Life hasn't lost all its amusement after all.

He saw the young puppy disembark. Simpson's quiet "Happy to escape, are
you?" mad him flinch but he went off jauntily nevertheless. Quite the
little lordling! One of the Inquisition sessions brought out that he had
some girl named Sue waiting for him. Maybe he was off visiting her,
though Simpson doubted that. His girl would be the last person *dear
Archie* would want to see..well, well, well, he'll find out anyway.

Simpson swallowed the rest of his whiskey at the precise moment Moll
showed downstairs. "Took you too long, girl" Was all the greeting she
got. She did not welcome him much, but money was money and a customer was
a customer after all. Sighing, she followed him upstairs.

An hour later, Simpson buttoned his coat and went downstairs again. Moll
counted her money and her bruises and sighed.

It was time to embark on Justinian. Simpson commandeered a boat and had
himself rowed to the ship.

THE END