Horatio Hornblower's Big Birthday Bash
by Hannah S.

Captain Sir Edward Pellew gave a cry of joy and clapped his
hands together. "It's Mr. Hornblower's birthday! What shall we
do to celebrate, Mr. Bracegirdle?"

"Bake a cake?" Bracegirdle suggested.

Pellew scowled. "No, no, that's much too commonplace, sah. No,
this shall be an event to remember. I want every man aboard this
ship to recognize this auspicious occasion. So come up with
something better."

Bracey paced a couple of times, head in hands, thumb massaging
his temple. "How about a surprise party?"

"No, no, no." Pellew picked up a paperweight and slammed it back
down on his desk with agitation. "You just don't understand, Mr.
Bracegirdle. Who ever made you my Leftenant?"

"I believe you did, sir."

"Don't interrupt. This day will go down in history. This is the
day that our men will be telling their grandchildren about, if
any of them live that long. This is Hornblower's birthday, for
goodness' sake! So I propose a party of special grandeur. I've
GOT IT!"

He slammed the paperweight down again, much to Bracey's
surprise. The Leftenant gave a leap.

"Command of the Indefatigable for one day! Let's see how well
we've trained this man!"

"Captain Pellew, don't you think that's going a bit far..."

"Nonsense, Bracegirdle. What more could we give young Hornblower
for the remarkable service he's presented in His Majesty's
Navy?"

"I suggested a cake, sir..."

"It is final! Hornblower will be Captain-For-A-Day!"

"Oh, dear me."

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

Now keep in mind that at this time, Horatio Hornblower was only
Midshipman of the Indy, as this was before the deal with the
fire ship and examinations and whatnot. In fact, it's a deleted
scene from "The Dual".

Hornblower was absolutely befuddled to recieve word of his new
birthday present. He was speechless. Stupefied. But he had not
yet heard that he was going to command the ship for the day.

No, Mr. Hornblower had just gotten his own jollyboat liscense.

"Now, use it responsibly," said Mr. Bowles, waggling a finger at
the eager Midshipman. "And remember the proper signals when
making a right turn."

"Yes, sir!" Hornblower could barely contain his excitement.
Archie congratulated him as he skipped off down the deck.

His giddy steps were halted short when he whacked into Captain
Pellew. Horatio steadied himself, horrified, swallowed back his
grin, and looked up innocently at his captain.

"Why are you skipping, sah!"

"N-n-no reason, Captain, it's just, see, I got my jollyboat
liscense and--"

"You have no reason to skip, Mr. Hornblowah. You have not yet
heard of what I have in store for you this day. Come to my
quarters at once!"

Horatio followed the Captain with his head hanging low. Pellew
didn't look like he was in a very good mood, and that was bad
news. The captain liked to throw things (yes, even small people)
when he was angry. Did he know it was Horatio's birthday?

When they stepped inside, though, Pellew's expression changed to
one of glee. "Congratulations, Mr. Hornblower. I'm giving you
command of the Indy for one day!"

Well, you can mop me up and throw me overboard, thought Horatio
as his jaw hit the floor. This day just couldn't get better!

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

By lunchtime (even if they don't eat lunch, there's still a
lunchtime, believe me) every member of the crew had heard of
Horatio's Captain-For-A-Day surprise. Wherever the Midshipman
went, with his new captain's hat aloft on his curly head, the
men would salute and cheer him on. Then, when he had passed,
they'd grumble and make faces behind his back, but Horatio never
noticed so that doesn't matter.

At first Horatio didn't know what to do. "I'm Captain-For-A-Day,
Archie," he said to his panic-prone friend. "I have to do
something to make it count."

"To make the men like you more than Pellew?"

"No, to make it count." (Yes, to make the men like me more than
Pellew.)

Archie understood perfectly. "It's simple, 'Ratio. Just do
something heroic. Find a French frigate and capture it, or
something."

"A splendid idea, Mr. Kennedy." Horatio stood up importantly. "I
shall inform the engineer at once to set a course for the
nearest French frigate."

"Engineers haven't been invented yet, 'Ratio."

"Of course they haven't. I'll tell the man at the steering
wheel."

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

"FIYAH!"

BOOM. Horatio was pleased. The French vessel "Fromage Amour" was
disabled. Horatio still didn't know proper sea-lingo, but he
guessed it didn't matter since he was already Captain--if only
for a day.

"Complete surrender, Captain-for-a-day Hornblower," said an
expendable informant.

"Well done!" He liked those words. "I will gather a small crew
to board her and take command."

"Horatio! Horatio!"

The Captain-For-A-Day swung around at the familiar voice. It was
Kennedy.

"'Ratio, somethin's wrong! There's already a British crew
onboard!"

"So, they've taken prisoners, have they...?"

"No, 'Ratio, look!"

Oops. She was flying British colors. Someone had gotten to the
ship before they did. Now, how did I miss that? thought Horatio
as he scratched his head.

"But that's not the worst of it," Archie panted fearfully.

"What?" This day couldn't possibly get worse!

"His Majesty is onboard, 'Ratio!"

Horatio's face went white. What on earth? "What is the king
doing out HERE?"

"He was just on vacation," Archie spluttered, "and decided to go
ship-hunting, that's all. You've really blown it now, Horatio."

By this time a jollyboat had been prepared, coming from the
Fromage Amour, and Horatio could just make out a kingly figure
at the prow. He didn't look happy.

Needless to say, Horatio disappeared below decks like a
frightened rabbit, throwing the hat off his head, and burst into
Pellew's quarters.

"What is it, Hornblower? What's the trouble?"

"Oh, help me sir! It's the King! He caught me blowing up our own
ship! And if you don't do something, he's going to catch me
being Captain-For-A-Day!"

Hornblower broke down and blubbered into his hands. "This is the
worst birthday ever!!" he sobbed.

"There, there, Hornblower, I'll see what I can do."

And he did.

Let's just say Pellew never tried the Captain-For-A-Day idea
again, after that.

 

The End