William Bush's Journal
by PJ

Fallen

My hand is shaking badly as I write this. I do not think I've really
had a chance to absorb everything that has happened this night, but I
have to set it on paper. Even if only to clear my thoughts.

With the speed of an incoming tide events have gone beyond anyone's
control. Now all any of us can do is wait.

I've never been good at waiting.

How did matters get to this pass? Its almost inconceivable. Doctor
Clive believes the captain will survive, but surely that means more
problems for the rest of us?

I see I am doing it again; moving to the end of the story. I must
work at controlling that impulse and keep things in order. It is
difficult, however. Especially now, when I scarcely know how or why
things have come to this pass.

I had returned to the wardroom after carrying out an inspection of
the orlop deck and the surgery on the captain's orders. Doctor Clive
was not pleased at my presence, but could make no argument. The
whole matter struck me as one of the captain's inexplicable whims,
but I didn't argue. Compared to recent events this was thoroughly
harmless.

Finding the wardroom deserted I started to wonder. Hornblower's
absence was understandable, but I had at least expected to see
Kennedy comfortably installed in his hammock with a volume of
Shakespeare to hand. Or Buckland at the table finishing his work.
The very silence of the place was deafening, and I had felt a prickle
on the back of my neck. I had snatched a lantern from inside the
door and made my way to the hold as quickly and quietly as I could.

Where I found my fellow lieutenants; tense, scared, and not quite
trusting me. I took the chance of revealing my thoughts on the
captain's fitness for command, suspecting that we were all in full
agreement, even if nothing had ever been said.

We may be in agreement, but there is nothing that can be done. Even
meeting and speaking as we did was enough to charge us with mutiny.
Charged, and more than likely found guilty. I think Hornblower sees
the situation the clearest of all of us. "He's plausible" is what he
said of Captain Sawyer.

And its true. Anything we could possibly say; any evidence we might
have of his unsound, even dangerous, behavior, would easily be
countered. And who will be believed? A group of lieutenants chafing
under the discipline of a hard and unforgiving captain? Not likely.
Kennedy was dead on in his assessment of what their reaction would be.

"They will laugh."

We'll be broken; careers ended. But that is of no consequence
compared to the possibility of attempted murder.

Because Captain Sawyer has fallen into the hold. Fallen, or was
pushed.

How he found out what we were doing is beyond my ken. But he turned
out the marine guard to hunt for us, following with them. Mutineers,
Sergeant Whiting reported him saying. We must find the mutineers.

We split up in the hold; Hornblower and Wellard going one way and
Kennedy, Buckland and myself the other. So how did those three young
men end up together in that particular spot at that particular time?
I know the suspicions I'm harboring are unworthy of me, but the
thoughts cannot be avoided.

They will laugh, and then hang us all in front of the entire squadron.

Unless the captain doesn't survive his injuries. A moot point in
that case.

How did it happen? How did the captain fall into the hold?

And where do we go from here?