Father of the Man
by Pam, Del, and Juliet

The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each in natural piety.

--William Wordsworth, "My Heart Leaps Up"

 

Kent, 1813

 

"Well, my dears!" Lady Barbara Hornblower smiled at her husband and stepson. "You look ready for an adventure!"

Young Richard was beaming at the prospect; Horatio returned his wife's smile far more tentatively.

Last autumn, just before Hornblower had been sent home to recover from the typhus, Barbara had taken Richard on a visit to one of her brother's estates; a gamekeeper there had taken the little boy on an afternoon's fishing excursion. Richard had described it so ecstatically to his father that, once his health permitted, Hornblower had at last been persuaded to let him repeat the experience. Now, attired in clean but threadbare white slops on this warm summer afternoon, he was still willing--though inwardly skeptical about the quantity of fish the pair of them might capture. However, if it made his small son happy . . . he returned Barbara's kiss almost absently, and followed Richard outside, carrying the bucket.

 

 

Brittany, 1762

 

"Oh, see her go, Papa!" Lucien whispered excitedly as the falcon flew from his glove. The sound of her jangling bells carried on the wind as she rose, catching the air under her wings and climbing it like a ladder up to heaven. Haude was her name. In Breton, it meant, "noble."

"I'm afraid, Papa," he said suddenly. "I'm afraid she won't come back!" Lucien looked up at his father, and the Marquis was smiling, staring up at the sky. His face was gaunt and hollow-cheeked, weather-beaten from the days spent plowing his own fields, and under his eyes were deep blue shadows. Everyone knew the Marquis did not sleep.

His hand lay on the hilt of the sword he always wore. Sheathed in its sling of cracked and battered leather, Lucien could see that the pommel was tarnished, and the blade below the guard was spotted with rust. When he spoke, his voice was so quiet; the soft summer wind might carry it away.

"To Nature belongs the falcon," he said. "And she, noble and beautiful and rare, will have dominion over the vermin, timid, common and plain. A mouse, a rat, a hare is born to scrabble on the ground, but the hawkshe is born to soar."

"You who would be her master send her up to the sky like a prayer, trusting, trusting. Will a prayer be answered? Will it?"

He seemed to ask the question of the sky, never once looking at his son.

Lucien swallowed the lump of fear in his throat and sought his father's hand, calloused and hard and dry as paper. Together they watched the falcon as she hunted, turning in ever widening circles overhead, drifting away on the currents of air, growing smaller and smaller until she was but speck of black in the clear blue sky over Muzillac.

 

London, 1764

 

 

"Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal can--can--"

The child broke off, glancing towards the watching man for help.

"Cantons," he prompted, gently but firmly.

". . . cantons of con-tem-ned love,
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name --"

"No, no," the man interrupted, closing his eyes as though in pain. "You sound like a sick wolf! Try again, dear child."

She hesitated, then succumbed to a sudden deviltry. "Halloooooo your name!"

This time the sound appeared to be emanating from a much healthier wolf; fighting the urge to giggle, she darted a glance at the man to see just how he was going to react.

A stern countenance and a frowning mouth met her view--but was there, about the eyes . . . yes, there was! A faint but unmistakable twinkle that, even as she watched, blossomed into full-blown merriment.

"Sits the wind in that corner?" he inquired at last. "Well, then, perhaps we should dispense with Twelfth Night and proceed directly to King Lear. The last scene, to be precise." And throwing back his head, he broke into a great ululating cry that reverberated through the tiny garden. "Howl, howl, howl, howl!"

She gave a peal of delighted laughter and immediately echoed him, an eager pup to his full-grown dog-wolf. "Howl, howl, howl, howl!"

They were still baying in chorus when a calm female voice overrode their performance without even seeming to rise in volume. "Francis Cobham, what is the meaning of this unholy din?"

Startled, they turned to face the new arrival, standing framed in the doorway, her younger daughter clinging to her skirts and her form softly rounded from the child she carried within .

"Lisbet, my love!" Her husband swooped down to kiss her lips, despite their being pursed with disapproval. "Forgive me! I was simply teaching our daughter the finer points of Shakespeare."

Elisabeth softened slightly at the caress but shook her head with a sigh. "You'd do better to make her mind her needle, my dear. What good will reciting Shakespeare do her in the future?"

"You never know, sweeting," he countered. "I think she'll surpass me, one day. Indeed, she may have it in her to be another Elizabeth Barry or Anne Bracegirdle."

"Recollect that they were the rather sensational exceptions to the rule," she remonstrated gently. "Far more actresses struggle within their profession, and I do not know that I want any daughter of ours to go on the stage."

"Well, at the very least, it does our Kitten no harm to learn to stand and speak clearly and well," Francis replied, with equal firmness, scooping up his firstborn, whose dark curls and blue eyes mirrored his own. "Truly, love, I believe she will succeed at whatever she turns her hand to!"

 

Chichester, 1773

 

"Jon!"

"Rob!"

Neither one was even slightly garrulous, but as the smith embraced his brother, both faces split into wide grins. Jonathan Bush released Robert at last, then ruffled his nephew's dark hair.

"You're growing like a weed, young Will!" he exclaimed. "Your aunt and your cousin Samuel are in the house. Go say hello to them, then come back and you can help with the horses. It so happens I've a four-year-old needs shoeing!"

As reticent as his sire, the boy departed with a smile to do his uncle's bidding. Jonathan turned back to his brother.

"How old is he, now?"

"Nine, last birthday." Robert Bush's face was thoughtful as he followed his brother into the smithy. "The schoolmaster says he's come on well with his letters--it's made me wonder if he's meant to be a farmer."

"Have him out to a trade then," Jonathan suggested. "Or send him here, to the smithy. I'll take him on for you."

"Maybe, when he's older--and if he still enjoys it here." Robert raked a hand absently through his hair. "There's time to consider it more, later. But we're about to take a holiday--going off to visit Sarah's brother in Portsmouth, next week. His first leave since he made lieutenant. Just think, Jon--our Will's never seen the sea."

 

London, 1781

 

"What'd you say?" Scowling, Tom Styles raised his fist, a gesture that would have held more menace if his eyes had not been bleary with drink. The big, raw-boned youth facing him glared back with equal ferocity.

"I said, you'll not call her that again," he repeated doggedly, despite the trickle of blood running down his chin. Tom spat.

"My wife, inn't she? Never any better'n she should be--'ole town knows it!"

The boy went on as though he hadn't spoken. "And you won't raise yer 'and ter her. Not ever again."

With a bellow of rage, Tom charged him. The blow from the boy's left hand made him stagger; the blow from the right sent him reeling backward, crashing first against the table and then onto the floor.

"Or ter me." He wiped his bleeding mouth on his sleeve, staring down at the fallen man.

The silence in the small house was deafening. Nan Styles, one hand pressed against her mouth, the other twisted in her apron, stared wide-eyed from her fallen husband to her son, and back again.

Her son made the decision for her.

"G'bye, mum," he said calmly, ducking his head to kiss her cheek, then walked out the door.

 

Kent, 1813

 

It would have been better, of course, if Smallbridge boasted a trout stream, like some of the grander country estates. Certainly, trout would be a tastier prize than carp, Hornblower reflected. However, he and his son were in search of adventure rather than dinner--and doubtless Barbara had a splendid meal planned for them on their return, one which might or might not include fish!

It was Richard's idea that they separate, once they reached the pond. Hornblower consented, with some provisions--namely that he would be less than ten feet away and Richard was to remain on the bank with his rod at all times. The pond was by no means bottomless but for a child not yet three it was quite deep enough. To his relief, Richard accepted his conditions without protest and was soon happily absorbed in baiting and casting his line. Still keeping a watchful eye on his son, Hornblower embarked upon his own angling venture.

 

 

Kent, 1784

 

The first thing he heard as he eased open the door was a great hiccuping sob. The first thing he saw was a pale, tear-streaked face that glanced up, startled, at his entrance. Great dark eyes widened, while small hands scrubbed furiously at those tears, vainly trying to efface them.

"Why, Horatio!" Dr. Hornblower dropped to his knees before his son, huddled in a miserable heap on the floor. "What are you doing out of bed? It's only two days since your fever broke."

"But I'm not sick anymore!" the child insisted. "And I w-wanted to get dressed! B-But now I'm so tired!" The tears overflowed again. He was a picture of such abject misery that Dr. Hornblower was suddenly hard-put to conceal a smile--though it was essential that he do so for the sake of the dignity his small son held so dear, even at this tender age. Instead, he pulled out his handkerchief and handed it to the boy, who buried his face in it, shoulders shaking.

"Best have it all out," the elder Hornblower advised gently. "You are only doing what I suspect most patients recovering from the influenza wish to do."

His son needed no encouragement. Dr. Hornblower remained where he was, waiting until the sobs became less gusty, then subsided into hiccups and sniffles. Finally, the child blew his nose and sat quietly, shaken only by the faint tremor of a sob now and then.

"Better?" his father inquired at last.

A moment's silence, followed by a shy nod and a sidelong glance through damp lashes.

"Good." Rising somewhat stiffly to his feet, Dr. Hornblower picked up a folded blanket from the foot of his son's bed, wrapped it about the boy's shoulders, then lifted him bodily from the floor. Horatio's brown eyes widened and he involuntarily clutched his father about the neck.

"W--where are we going?"

"Out into the garden," Dr. Hornblower replied. "The day is warm enough and as long as you are wrapped up, you should take no harm. We can sit on the bench and enjoy the sunshine--besides, your mother's roses are starting to open and I can think of few sights more restful than a garden in bloom. Is that agreeable to you?"

The curly head nodded vigorously. Dr. Hornblower smiled and tightened his hold upon the precious burden he carried.

"It's all a matter of timing," he told his son. "And not pushing the body beyond its limits. Practice moderation in all things, and your constitution will thank you for it--now and years in the future. Do you understand, Horatio?"

Another nod--though Dr. Hornblower was not entirely sure whether the boy truly understood or was just agreeing for the sake of agreeing. Well, no matter. He kissed the top of his son's head, then bore him from the room and thence out into the garden, where the perfume of roses and lavender filled the warm summer air.

The garden itself was a haze of blues, greens, and soft pinks, as soothing to the eyes as to the nose. Dr. Hornblower carried his son over to a stone bench by a low wall and sat down beside him. In companionable silence, they watched as a light breeze set the flowers dancing and a cluster of golden-brown bees flew lazily from bloom to bloom, gathering nectar.

It was perhaps half-an-hour later when Dr. Hornblower noticed that the small head resting against his arm had grown heavier and heavier. Glancing down, he saw the sweep of Horatio's lashes lying dark and thick upon his cheeks, noted the steady rise and fall of his chest beneath the enveloping blanket. The doctor smiled, but waited a few minutes longer, making sure that his son was slumbering deeply enough that nothing would disturb him, then gathered him up and carried him back into the house.

To his relief, Horatio did not rouse even when he was laid down upon the bed again and covered with a second blanket. Rather, he uttered a soft sigh and turned his cheek into the downiness of his pillow, embracing sleep with the same earnest concentration he brought to his waking activities.

"Moderation in all things," Dr. Hornblower murmured, lightly stroking his boy's tousled curls before letting himself out of the room. "And tomorrow, perhaps--you will be able to walk to the garden yourself."

 

 

Buckinghamshire, 1786

 

"Enclosed herein an instrument for the purchase of Ensigncy, H. M 52nd Oxfordshire Regiment of Foota bond for the sum of Four-Hundred-and Fifty Pounds to be deposited to the Accounts of Messrs. Greenwood, Hammersly and Cox, Regimental Agents, Craig's Court, Westminster "

Edrington skimmed the lines briefly before putting his pen to this, the first of the pile. Mr. Gieves of Piccadilly wanted 12 pounds, 12 shillings for two regimental coats, 4 and 4 shillings for two pair of white and one of buff breeches. The hatter's bill was 2 pounds, 3 shillings and sixpence and the bootmaker would have 5 pounds and 19 shillings. The armorer had provided a regimental saber, a buff sword belt, two leather sword knots, a "regulation sword knot for reviews," a breastplate for shoulder belt and a pair of silver epaulettes for a total sum of 14 pounds, 13 shillings and fourpence. And it seemed that every officer of the 52nd was required to have a spyglass and compass (3 pounds) and "a case of mathematical instruments, common size," another pound-and-six.

Edrington smiled to himself and signed his name with a flourish to the last of the notes. The system of purchase might seem unsatisfactory to many, but he believed it did bring into service men of means and character, men who had a genuine connection with the interests and fortunes of the country. And wouldn't the Foxites shout down the House when the bills were laid before them? He thought it a price well paid for a younger son's future, and perhaps one day, a nation's.

"And damn me if I don't wish I could go!" He looked down at the brown and white springing spaniel who lay on the floor beside the desk. "What say you, Xerxes? Shall we run away and take the King's shilling?"

The dog sat up promptly at the sound of his master's voice, his round, wet, brown eyes expectant, the pink tongue lolling. His stump of a tail thumped the floor.

"Every man thinks meanly of himself for never having been a soldier," reflected the Earl. "Who ever said that then? I rather think it was that rascal, Johnson." He lay down his pen and rose, a little stiffly, from his chair. He picked up the commission, refolded it carefully, and placed it inside his waistcoat.

"Come on, old fellow," he said, snapping his fingers. "Let us go and see if we can't find the boy."

 

 

Oxfordshire, 1788

 

"The time has come to consider your future, Archibald," Aylesford began, in the cool level voice that brooked no argument.

Not that his third son would have offered one. Perched stiffly on his chair, neither relaxing into its depths nor leaning forward on its edge, he resembled nothing so much as a statue. Only the wide, apprehensive blue eyes, gazing up at his father, revealed that he was flesh and not marble.

Not yet thirteen, Aylesford recalled, half-unwillingly. Not yet thirteen and undersized with it--though surely he would grow tall and strong beneath the sun, breathing the salt sea air. Mouth tightening, the viscount unstopped the decanter and poured himself a glass of port before turning back to face his son.

"As I was saying," he resumed, "the matter of your future must be settled. Your brother Malcolm will remain here, of course, learning to run the estate, which will be his one day. And last year I purchased a commission for your brother Duncan, so provision has been made for him as well. Your tutor has spoken well of your progress; however, you understand that Oxford and Cambridge are not -- possible."

Not for a youngest son, and not with two daughters, still in the schoolroom, who must be properly dowered when the time came for them to wed.

"Yes, sir." The boy's voice scarcely rose about a whisper.

"You do not, I think, have a vocation for the church?"

"No, sir."

"Then--it must be the Navy." Aylesford's tone was brisk. "Other members of our family have served with distinction there, many beginning at your age or even younger. I have made inquiries in certain quarters and am pleased to report that Captain Keene of His Majesty's Ship Justinian has agreed to take you on, as one of his midshipman."

The name meant nothing to the boy, but he nodded, his eyes still fixed upon his father, who found it suddenly difficult to meet their steady regard.

He took a restorative swallow of port before continuing. "We will travel to London in the morning to purchase what you require. In three days' time, you will join the ship's company at Portsmouth."

The blue eyes widened at that. So soon? they seemed to ask--but the protest remained unspoken. Instead, the boy swallowed, nervously licked his lips. "Sir . . . I--I hope I may prove a credit to the name I bear."

Aylesford considered his youngest son a moment longer. "See that you do, Archibald. That will be all. You may go now and pack for tomorrow's journey."

The boy left the study as soundlessly as a ghost, but his presence still seemed to linger. So small and finely made, as she had been--and with her bright hair, her expressive eyes . . .

But the boy had to make his own way in the world. It was expected of him. She would not have approved, of course. Indeed, she had said that she wanted to keep their youngest child at home "until he grew stronger"--but Archibald was only a third son and the world would not coddle him. Aylesford had only done what must be done.

If only he didn't look so very small . . .

Stifling his misgivings, Aylesford reached again for the decanter and poured himself another drink.

 

 

Portsmouth, 1790

 

"What d'you mean, it's mine?" he snarled, rearing up against the soiled pillows. "As if a slut like you could tell!"

"It's yers, awright!" Moll glared back at him as she straightened up over the washbasin where she had just finished being sick. "Twar'nt nobody but you, and a bottle, that 'ole two weeks, Jack Simpson! So what're you gorn t' do about it?"

"Do about it?" She watched him avidly as he threw back the stained sheet, climbed naked from the bed, and reached for his discarded clothes, lying in a heap on the grimy floor.

"Do about it?" he repeated, now digging into his purse. "I'll do nothing at all." He flung a handful of coins down on the table, where they rolled and scattered. "Here's ten shillings--get rid of it. And don't let me see your face again or it'll be the worse for you. Now get out!"

 

Plymouth, 1799

 

To the Lords of the Admiralty:

 

. . . Had the Boatswain of the Indefatigable been appointed to a Ship at Portsmouth, his servant by rule of Service, would be difcharged with his Master by pay Ticket. Sir E.P.- his Commander - is deprived of a desirable and advantageous appointment, after constant employment without relaxation for six years; and sent to a Ship at Portsmouth, amidst intire strangers and without being permitted to take One Officer, One Man, or even One Domestic. It is fair then to presume Sir E.P. has no sensibility, no attachment, no feeling, that his heart must be adamant, that he can part from faithful, and attached Companions, grown from boys to manhood under him, without a sorrowful Countenance, or a Moistened Eye. He grants it may be thought so. But he begs to afsert the Contrary. And he dares to say, to those who think thus of him, that language does not furnish words sufficiently strong to exprefs his feelings upon such unmerited hard treatment; nor can time, however soothing on most other occasions, blot from his remembrance, Circumstances so debasing to the reputation of an Officer; to your Lordship he leaves the regret of having occasioned them.

And is with due Respect
Your Lordships
Most Obt Servant
ED PELLEW

 

 

Kent, 1813

 

It was only three-quarters of an hour after their arrival that disaster struck. There was a nibble, and then an actual tug, on Richard's little fishing rod. With an excited squeal, the child bounded upright--only to slip on the muddy bank, his feet flying out from under him, his spiraling arms unable to check his fall, and the fishing rod arcing out of his grasp to float well out of reach towards the middle of the pond. Richard himself was plastered with mud from hips to heels.

Hornblower scrambled to his feet, alarmed by the child's silence. "Richard? Richard, are you all right?"

He saw his son sitting up slowly, seemingly unhurt despite his jolting. "Y-yes, papa."

He was trying to be brave, to sound composed, but he was still such a little boy; Hornblower saw the brimming eyes and the trembling lower lip, and was suddenly, inexpressibly moved. He strode toward his son, only to feel a stone turn under his foot and himself descend, rapidly and ungracefully, into the mud. He lay still for a second, winded and muddied from the chest down, trying not to curse, when the silence was broken by a small, unexpected sound: a child's gurgle of laughter and an exclamation, "Papa's funny!"

Recovering his breath, Horatio sat up as slowly as Richard had done, trying to decide on a new course of action. He felt uncomfortable and ridiculous, as well as filthy, but if it reassured his boy to see him this way . . . His friend William Bush could sound calm and collected under any circumstances, and Archie--Archie would have rolled in the mud until he was covered with it, if it made the child happy. With a tentative smile, Hornblower rose to his feet again and reached out a hand to his son, who clasped it happily, comforted now that his father shared his less-than-pristine condition.

"Richard," Hornblower began; then thought again. "Perhaps that wasn't the best kind of fishing to try, here in the pond."

"Papa?" Richard sounded confused; Hornblower reminded himself how young the boy was.

"With your rod. It may not be considered really sporting." An old memory stirred, and he led his son around the other side of the trees, where the bank was much lower. "Let's try this another way. Here, we can lie down like this . . . not too far, now. We can be right next to the water, but we don't want to fall in." Again. "Watch me. See? I put my hand down in the water like this, and just let it lie there with my fingers open, and then--"

Despite the recent disturbances, the carp were not used to being preyed upon--a curious or incautious fish approached to investigate Hornblower's faintly twitching fingers. Swiftly, Horatio tried to scoop the carp out of the water, but he misjudged the timing, and the fish plunged away with a splash. Richard squealed with delight, and despite the loss of his objective, Hornblower found himself grinning.

 

Portsmouth, 1801

 

Moss had grown over the stone since he had last seen it and he picked it away, experiencing, as always, a sudden frisson as the inscription came to light.

LT. HENRY WELLARD, R. N.

His father's name. And his.

Wiping his fingers on a slightly grubby handkerchief, Henry stepped back to gaze more intently at the marker itself. His father had never lain here, in this quiet churchyard, but his widow had had the headstone erected within a year of his death. Her own, put up just after her death six months ago, stood beside it. A quiet ending hers had been, the very antithesis of her husband's, felled in battle . . . yet oddly inevitable. Henry's grandmother, herself several years deceased now, had once told him that the mainspring of his mother's life had broken the day she learned of the elder Henry's death and that she had survived only because of her love for her son and her wish to see him creditably established.

Established in the Navy, following in the footsteps of the father he had never known.

"Papa," Henry began, shaping the unfamiliar word, then changed his mind. "Father."

That felt -- more natural, somehow. More like a man speaking to a man.

"Father." Removing his hat, Henry bowed his head as he spoke. "I--I wish we had known each other, especially after all that Mother and Grandmother told me about you. I only hope that, someday, I can make you proud. But I have my first posting and my ship sails tomorrow, to join the Channel Fleet. She's called the Renown."

He paused, half-expecting an answer, then shook his head, dismissing the fancy. "It means 'fame,' or 'glory.' That's what I hope to bring to -- to the name we share. You have done your part, surely, I can do no less." He paused again, considering. He had laid a small posy of violets upon his mother's grave before taking leave of her, but what tribute could he give his father?

A moment's reflection more and it came to him. Straightening, Henry resumed his hat, drew himself up to his full height . . . and saluted the headstone, the way he would a superior officer.

"Goodbye, Father." Then, turning from the graveside, he made his way out of the churchyard, holding his head high and taking long strides into his future.

 

 

(The following contains a spoiler for HH3, "Duty").

HM Sloop "Grasshopper," 2nd April 1803

 

My own Darling Lizzie,

I had your wondrous letter yesterday in the morning, and it is not until this moment that I have been allowed to put my own pen to paper for all that I have scarce been able to think of aught else this day and night past.

What news, my Love! God is good and I have been on my knees to thank Him for your safe delivery and for a thriving child. How funny you are to think I would mind that it's a boy! I have only ever said that I thought I could never love a boy better than any of my perfect little girls, but I assure you, I can love him just as well! Had I but a pair of wings I would fly to you this moment, to hold and kiss you all. What a sight would that be, that great white bird, soaring o'er the waves! You must kiss them all for me, Luvvy Dear, and tell my Becca, my Franny and my Nell that they shall have my letters soon.

The winds have been prankish all the night, and leading us a dance, I can tell you! My lads are young and raw, but so willing and good, no one could wish for better. And my little ship, my "Grasshopper"! How she becomes her name as she skips upon the sea! You would laugh to see me, Liz, a boy with a toy. Anthony Bracegirdle, the Laughing Lieutenant, who thought he wished for nothing more than a comfortable flagship berth and a place at Sir Edward's table. He knew me better than I did myself, I daresay. I, a captain, and beyond myself with joy! What a happy, lucky man am I! It is the tale of all my life, I do think, that just when I think I could not have a greater abundance of God's blessings, He fills my cup once more. He has given me you, my Heart, and our precious girls, health and good fortune, true friends, a ship, a Son! All the things I never knew that I could wish for until they were mine

 

Lizzie closed the letter again and laid it down beside her candle atop the others. Sir Edward's bold script stood out even in the waning light. There were a great many of them, but she had not been able to bring herself to slit the seals.

"Mama?" her eldest, Rebecca, stood in the doorway, her pale hair, the colour of bleached tow, was lit by the lamp in the hall.

"Can I bring you something, Mama?" she asked. "Annie's got soup. Shall I put Anthony in his bed?"

Lizzie smiled. "He's just gone to sleep. I shall rock him a moment more, then I will eat, I promise."

The girl hesitated, hovering in the doorway. When she turned to go, the little draft from her skirts made Lizzie's dying candle waver and then go out. Dropping her head, she brushed her lips over the baby's downy hair, inhaling his sweet, pure scent as she rocked and rocked in the growing dark.

 

 

England, 1804

 

A gift from Rear Admiral Sir Edward Pellew Bart. M. P. , to his affectionate Son Pownoll Bastard Pellew Esq. on receiving his first Commifsion as Captain of His Majesty's Ship the Fly, of 10 Guns.

 

Memo.

From your affectionate Father to his Dutiful Son

Avoid as certain destruction both of Soul and Body all excefses of whatever Nature they may be, in the Climate you are going to you must use great Caution to avoid all the Night dews - and when you are exposed by Night never permit your breast to be uncovered or your neck exposed without something tied round it - Never stop upon Deck unlefs covered by something to keep off the Dew. It is equally necefsary to avoid the Sun in the Middle of the Day from wch, much danger is to be expected; it may at a moment produce Giddynefs of head, sicknefs and fever - take great care never to over-heat your blood by drinking or exercise - never go out shooting on any account or riding in the Sun and be very particular never to check perspiration or sit in a draft of Wind so as to produce it - altho it is so pleasant to the feeling it is almost certain Death. At night always sleep in Calico - be you ever so hot - it is a great security against the diseases of that Country. On your first arrival be extremely careful not to indulge in eating too much fruit - and do not go into the Water when the Sun is high. Take great care to keep your body regular and never pafs a day without Evacuation - the moment you feel your Body-bound take directly a pill or two of those you carry of the size of a large pea. And should you ever feel unwell instantly take a strong Emetic or a good dose of Physic. If you are seized with a flux take directly a large dose of Rhubarb and apply directly to your Surgeon. Always wear a piece of White paper inside your hat. If you should take prizes I need scarcely recommend you to treat your Prisoners with kindnefs, but be very careful to keep safe and proper Guards over them - An Officer who suffers his Prisoners to retake his Ship can never recover the Stain on his Character.

Mr Wedderburn's letters will show you Who's care you ought to put your Prize Concerns in - at the same time ask them to let the Admiral's agent be joined with yours.

Be extremely Cautious and Correct in your Conduct. The first imprefsion of your Character will be formed from it and the companions of your choice; always endeavour to keep in with the Captains and Admiral as much as pofsible, behaving with quiet Modesty - you will always learn something in their Company and they will soon respect and esteem you.

Never become one of the Tavern parties on shore, they always end in drunkennefs and Difsipation.

In your Command be as kind as you can without suffering imposition on your good Nature, be steady and vigilant. Never neglect any opportunity of writing to your Mother Who deserves your utmost love and attention for her unceasing goodnefs to you and all your family. I hope you will believe I shall be equally glad to hear of you. I am sure you will never dishonour yourself or your family or the Service of your King. . . .

 

 

Paris, 13 August 1815

 

"Pa!"

The Countess of Edrington's littlest boy called out, waving his fat little hands and trying to wriggle his way off her lap as a group or three men in scarlet uniform passed by the open carriage that waited before the Embassy of His Britannic Majesty to the Court of the Tuileries. The day was glorious, the air light and fragrant with the smell of flowers that spilled from containers everywhere, and brilliant sunlight shone on clean streets and lovely buildings, making the drenching rains, the mud and blood of Waterloo seem but a distant, impossible memory.

"No, Philly! Not Papa!" giggled the ten-year-old, Phaedra. "That man is a private, and he's only got one leg, silly boy!"

"Pa!" Phillip insisted, bouncing on his mother's lap until she laughed and kissed him. She looked over at the nurse, who had in her lap yet another sleeping child, Phillip's twin sister. The Countess was contemplating asking the footman to step down and put up the sunshade when she saw her husband appear at the top of the wide stone steps. At his side was a rather sensational looking young woman, dressed en militaire, in a riding habit modeled on the dress of the Queen's Own 7th Hussars. Extravagant plumes waved atop her tall hat that was shaped like a shako.

Alexander's right hand cupped the woman's elbow as they descended, and in his left he carried his silver topped cane, disdaining to use it, even though there was still a most discernible hitch in his step. The Countess pressed her lips together, suppressing a smile, wondering if the dashing young Miss knew of the exact, somewhat delicate, nature of Colonel Lord Edrington's war wound.

"D'you think she knows Papa was shot in the bum?" Phaedra mused bluntly.

"Phaedra! Really," admonished the Countess, keeping her face straight. His Lordship and his companion parted company at the bottom of the steps, he with a courtly bow, she with a bobbing of plumes. He made his way to the carriage and swung up effortlessly in spite of cane, limp, and dangling dress saber.

"My dears," he greeted them warmly, seating himself beside his wife. "Where is this picnic to be? I vow I am famished enough to eat Napoleon's Elephant!"

Phaedra wrinkled her nose. "But it's only made of papier maché, Papa!"

"Indeed? Well, I told you I was very hungry."

"Who was that lady, Papa?" asked Phaedra as the driver clucked, and the carriage moved slowly out into the street.

Edrington glanced at his wife, and then back at the wide-eyed girl. "Mm. Friend of the Duke's, I think," he replied.

"Is she his latest petite amourette?" queried Phaedra, accenting the French flawlessly.

Edrington cocked an eyebrow at his daughter, then winked.

"Take your son," said the Countess. "He has been calling every man in a red coat 'Papa,' and now that you have indeed appeared, he is struck dumb. Such looks I have been given, my lord, I fear my reputation is quite forfeit!"

Edrington's expression was a little wistful as he moved to take the boy into his arms. "Come on, my darling boy," he said. "You won't be mistaking your Papa for anyone else, ever again. Papa is coming home. We are allgoing home."

The Countess closed her eyes and turned her head. She thought of home. Soon it would be autumn, and she thought of hunting the wide, green fields of Buckinghamshire, of the great, dear old house that waited, and her two oldest sons who had been sent home to school while the war went on and on.

"Truly, my dear?" she asked, turning back to him.

"Truly," he said, meeting her eyes over Phillip's curly head. "It is past time."

 

 

Portsmouth, 1816

 

Written in the Eventuality of his Death . . .

 

Charlotte 20th July 1816

MY VERY DEAR POWNOLL

When this reaches you the Father who loves you will be no more - I depart with the sweet reflexion that my Life has been useful - to my children -respect my Memory and above all respect and honour the best of Mothers.

Be a protector to your family and may God's blefsing attend you. I trust you will all be united in the closest bonds of love and friendship, united you will all be invulnerable, Divided ruined.

I have left you Nothing Until your Mother Dyes because I conclude the pension will be yours. After her Death I hope you will find something considerable, besides the house etc. at Teignmouth - and altho you will not be Rich you will not be poor. Stick by your profefsion, you are not tramelled as I was by weight of obligation and will be able to make your own way in Politicks. Loyal you must ever be.

I afsure you My dear Pownoll you are all alike dear to me. Your Mother will do all She can for you and I hope you will enjoy her confidence and afsist her affairs. She will be able to do much for you and you know how deeply she feels for you all.

I believe I have been basely & vilely BELIED but Truth will at last prevail for I am innocent.

God blefs you, My Dear Pownoll, be virtuous and you will be happy, so prays

Your affectionate Father
EXMOUTH

 

 

Kent, 1813

 

Cool and immaculate, Barbara looked from one to the other: both identically wet and mud-spattered, their curls mussed into wild tangles, but triumphantly holding the bucket between them for her inspection. Looking down at their prize, she could not quite keep her mouth from twitching.

"Only . . . one fish. After the whole afternoon, my dear?"

"Richard caught this one!" her husband announced proudly. "And then, well, there were . . . many others," Hornblower found himself improvising in a tradition as old as their recent pastime itself. "But they were so much bigger and faster . . . "

Barbara was shaking her head, looking between the two of them again, disregarding his words. "What is it they say?" she asked rhetorically. "'Like father, like son'?" And was laughing softly as she embraced them both.

 

END