THE FOUR ELEMENTS
The Sisters of William Bush
by Rose U2LadyUtena

PART ONE - Spirit

Life upon earth was more unpredictable than life upon water for the
seaman. Employment upon ships guaranteed food, clothing, and shelter,
along with the possibility of prize money. Life upon land ensured
only the uncertainty of fearful patience, waiting for the next
opportunity to be of service to the navy while barely subsiding on
half pay. This anxiety lingers with me, although I know England was
definitely at war with France; but my last duration of unemployment
was four months, and that was the most difficult period of my life
since enlisting with the naval service.

I was departing from the "Hotspur" with Horatio Hornblower, both of
us intending to visit the Admiralty Offices. Such visitations ensured
three or four tedious hours of interrogation regarding recent
missions. Fortunately, questionings are followed by appetizing meals
at the Black Swan, which any seaman should relish; but I will swallow
any mirth when the most senior officer decides that some whist would
be appropriate. These gentlemanly pursuits do not suit my taste, but
I must be courteous to whichever Captains are present for my career
may depend upon their goodwill. Whatever was to occur, I would not
depart for Chichester until well after midnight.

My thoughts were distracted when I observed four women staring at me
with sea-colored eyes identical to my own. Bloody hell, what are my
sisters doing at the docks in Portsmouth? Their blue eyes sparkled
with both mirth and mischief like the eyes of senior midshipman
observing their juniors without sea legs. What unspeakable and unseen
plans did these devilish ladies have for me?

At thirty feet away, I observed them dressed in their best uniforms,
the latest of what was considered the epitome of Continental fashion--
Anglicized of course. Being the proprietresses of the dress shop in
Chichester, they were privy to all secret information regarding
style. No doubt they would attempt to clothe me in the articles
appropriate for gentlemen, but they will have little jurisdiction in
that department. I will no doubt be reassigned to another ship within
two weeks, not having to listen to conversations about the benefits
of muslin any longer. I especially will not have to endure Charlotte
threatening to get her shears upon my hair to create some Napoleonic
nightmare.

Why were battlefield instincts aroused when I gazed upon my sisters?
Certainly they were lined up like marines, but these ladies are no
soldiers! My sisters are not Frogs, but why did Elizabeth and Barbara
Jane wear the colors of the French flag? And Charlotte, why does she
dress like some Lobster in her dark pink dress, with her hat
decorated like some feast for the Admiralty? Margaret was the only
sensibly clothed one in her grey dress, but it reminds me of
discolored sails the "Hotspur" was beginning to acquire from the
weather. I shook my head, because why does everything have to remind
me of my duty to England?

I am distracted once again when Charlotte decides to be the
instigator of this family reunion, insisting on shouting as she runs
with outstretched arms. Elizabeth approached me next, scolding our
youngest sister in her motherly manner, but any misbehavior will be
forgotten. Barbara Jane followed Elizabeth, with her humorous scowl,
before she eagerly began to interrogate me like some criminal.
Margaret was the last to acknowledge my presence, as usual, since she
is too absorbed in observing the people who regulate the docks or the
gossip in the Portsmouth newspaper.

I wondered what Horatio was contemplating as four sets of arms
enraptured me like venomous snakes, slowly suffocating me. No doubt
he was analyzing with amusement as he raised his eyebrows, not having
sisters of his own, but did he realize that sisters can give and take
their affections in one single breathe, stifling their brothers with
love or hatred. While my sisters removed their slithering arms, I
hear Horatio clear his throat with the usual "Ha-h'm"--but that will
not entice their attention.

***

 

PART ONE - Spirit

"William!"

"Oh, sweet little Will!"

"Oh, safe in the harbor at last."

"Did you get any diseases this time?"

Horatio raised his eyebrows and smiled while four women battled
amongst themselves as to who has the honor of brandishing the first
kiss upon me. As usual, Elizabeth was the victor for she has motherly
affections, encircling me like the lioness does her prey. As usual,
Charlotte will not be bested by the maternal predator, having to jump
into my arms like some four-year-old child.

Charlotte finished kissing my cheeks like some woman in Kingston
before she proudly proclaimed, "William, you're getting wrinkles!"

Elizabeth intervened, for she must not be outmaneuvered by our
youngest sister, "And your clothes need mending! You've a good hand,
but sails are not clothes."

Barbara Jane rolled her eyes at them, "He is an officer, so he no
longer does such petty things."

I attempted to appease them, "Sisters, I have to-"

Charlotte covered my mouth with her left hand as she pointed with her
right, "Oh, look at those crow's feet!"

Removing her eyes from the newspaper, Margaret rolled them at her
twin, "Charlotte, he is outside in the sun all day, what do you
expect?"

With critical eyes, Charlotte decided to interrogate me rather than
argue with Margaret, "Do you wear your hat in the sun, dear brother?
Do you wear you coat when it's rainy and windy?"

Margaret interrupted, "He is not some old maid!"

Charlotte ignored her, "Oh, you're so young dear brother and need to
stay that way!"

Barbara Jane approached me with her impetuous smile, "Did you bring
us any presents?"

Elizabeth scolded them, attempting to usher my sisters from my
person, "Barbara Jane, you are so greedy!"

Barbara Jane explained, "But, he's traveled to so many places and-"

Charlotte shrieked, while she brushed her fingers through my
hair, "William, you're hair. It's turning gray!"

Margaret laughed, "Investigate your own hair, dear sister. I observed
some gray strands in your brush yesterday. "

Elizabeth frowned as she observed the besmirched Horatio, "Oh, hush
you girls! There's an officer here with William."

Four sets of sea-colored eyes observed Horatio with the mirth and the
mischief that greeted me minutes ago. Whatever course their thoughts
have plotted, I only expected the unspeakable from saucer-eyed
Charlotte.

She smilds, fanning herself as if it Summer, "Oh, who's this young
gentleman?"

I explained with the dignity any naval officer should
possess, "Sisters, this is Master and Commander Horatio Hornblower of
His Majesty's Sloop, the Hotspur."

"The Horatio Hornblower?" Margaret smiled. "William has told us all
about you, dear sir. And my, what a Shakespearian name you have!"

Barbara Jane babbled, which is unusual for her, "Mother would've
loved that, having adored Shakespeare's works, although she preferred
comedies to tragedies."

She spent one moment giggling with Charlotte, or rather at her sister.

Charlotte questioned him, "Captain, sir, are you married?"

"Don't be so tactless!" Barbara Jane mumbled through her sarcastic
smile. "Remember, William was best man at Horatio's, I mean, uh,
Mister Hornblower's wedding. And plus, he's Commander, not Captain."

Charlotte scowled at Barbara Jane, "Well, I want to know from the man
himself."

I rolled my eyes before assuming diplomacy once more, "Sisters, I
have to visit the Admiralty and-"

"Oh, Will, are you going to be on land longer than a week?" Elizabeth
interrupted as she puts her handkerchief to her nose.

I hesitated as four sets of watery eyes observe me, "It depends-"

Margaret sighed as she crosses her arms, "We know."

Charlotte stomped her feet, "It all depends on Boney."

Margaret shook her head, "Napoleon, you mean."

Charlotte glared at her, "I know what I mean."

Margaret scowled, "No, you do not."

"I'm always correct."

"In your little Dreamland, certainly, but-"

"Oh, Captain, sir, are you married?"

"His proper rank is Commander."

"Oh, hush!"

As Charlotte and Margaret continued to argue, I mumbled to
Horatio, "Want to adopt my sisters?"

Horatio opened his mouth, seeming to hesitate, "Ha-h'm--well, I think
Misses Mason is quite enough. You could come visit us, but she'd
probably charge you rent to sit in a chair."

As Horatio and I laughed, my sisters were silenced. Horatio and I
ceased our humor uneasily as four ladies observe with unidentifiable
motives, but they quickly giggle--even Margaret.

Suddenly Charlotte declared in earnest, "You two need to eat."

Elizabeth glanced at me with narrowed eyes, poking at my ribs where
my old battle injuries hurt must, "Look at that waist on you,
William. Oh, are they only feeding you weevils?"

Charlotte blurted defiantly, "We'll hang the Captain for this!"

Barbara Jane pinched her arm, "Hush! Then you will be hanging
Commander Hornblower here."

Charlotte gasped, "Oh dear! Please forgive me!"

She presented Horatio with the most skilled of curtsies, perplexing
him for two seconds at most. It would no doubt surprise him to have
knowledge that she is deft at feminine arts, particularly dancing and
flirting; but she rarely displays her specialties unless she is being
paid.

Horatio mumbled, "No offense taken, uh-"

"Mister Hornblower, sir," I interrupted. "I didn't properly introduce
to my sisters. I apologize for my lack of decorum to a superior
officer. Anyhow, this is Misses Elizabeth Marie Jenkins, and the
Misses Bushes--Barbara Jane, Margaret Ophelia, and Charlotte Juliet.
They are joint proprietresses of the Windmere Dress Shop in
Chichester."

Horatio raised his eyebrows at me again, "I didn't know your sisters
had such a business. I always thought-"

"Yes, he sends half his pay to us out of duty, though we do rather
well ourselves," Elizabeth smiled. "He always had such a good sense
of duty."

Charlotte mumbled, "That isn't the half of it! Barbara Jane's got
some debts, playing investor with some of our money and Margaret's
education and all the bloody Bushes-"

"Sisters," I replied." I have to go to the, uh, Admiralty Offices and
report about the "Hotspur" and-"

"Nonsense, Mister Bush," Horatio unexpectantly laughed, slapping me
on the back. "This work will only require the presence of one
officer. Remember, this isn't the Renown! Good-day ladies."

Horatio departed from our company, with some distorted smile upon his
face looking as though it was carved by some drunken surgeon--like
Clive. I did not know whether he is humored or not, but I expect he
will be visiting the Admiralty in anticipation of some thirteen hour
whist championship to escape his sorrow. His exit is ignored by my
overly sweet sisters, but iswashe bitter because they remind him of
Maria? I doubt he would speak such thoughts to me, but his smile
disturbed me and...

"William, it's time to take you home for turnip pie!"

"And turnip stew!"

"And turnip, uh, turnover."

"You make me hysterical."

"Hush!"

My sisters will continue such arguments over my attentions with their
maternal affections, as I become their prisoner in the garden of our
Chichester cottage. I will be pampered like royalty imprisoned in the
Tower of England, sentenced to collect and plant vegetables. As I
labor among the leafy vines, I will have my flower, though my sisters
may be the occasional thorn. I will soon be beckoned by the sea. The
four elements may intercede, but earth, air, fire, and water will not
weather me for I have become nothing but some old sea spirit on land--
just as Uncle Seafred predicted that night at Gelden Pond.

 

PART TWO - Earth

Oh, William, I can only think of you as that wide-eyed earnest boy
with the black eyes who was so selfless for my honor. But here you
are, a man. Worry lines crease upon your tanned brow, or are those
wrinkles from constant frowning? Either way, you've the look of some
overly observant parent. Oh, I am almost tempted to cry, but I see
that frankness in your blue eyes--the honest uneasiness you've always
had through every family crisis. You're still my dear, sweet William--
thank God!

I always feared you'd become some bully of a seaman while working
with surly, hardened sailors--and criminals! But you only give the
appearance of a rock who I'll crumble with my touch. You'll cry in my
lap as you always have, like when the Landers and Smith boys beat you
up, and you begged me to tell no one while I tended your bruises. Oh,
you may be in His Majesty's Navy, but you're also human--made of
blood, sweat, and tears.

Ah, you look so handsome in your naval uniform, but you look almost
half-starved. I know they feed you enough at sea, but it's weevil
biscuits, salt pork, and navy beans! It reminds me of when you lived
and worked at the Mossglow Inn and lived on rye bread and turnips,
even though you could've came home for mother's delicious pudding.
Oh, William, I can just imagine you sacrificing food for the greater
good. Once it was for family, now it's for your crew.

It's your damn pride! You're just like mother, cursing assistance
from relatives just to hold your head that much higher. Nobility of
character--indeed! You, just like her, refused the charity of our
uncles by going off to sea, even though our inheritance from Uncle
Seafred was generous enough to grant a comfortable lifestyle. Oh, you
could've been a blacksmith or tailor, but instead you're a cursed
seaman living on half your pay! Oh, I'm so sorry, but why do you
suffer for everyone else when the burden should not be yours alone?

But, ah, who is this gentleman speaking with you? Hmm, a captain? No,
he's a commander. I suppose he's your commanding officer, but you
talk with each other like old comrades. Oh, William, do you finally
have a friend? It's so surprising and comforting since you've always
spent so much time with mother and us, your sisters, instead of the
other village boys. But dear brother, you better introduce him to
your ladies.

Charlotte! Oh, why does she have to yell at you like some demoness?
The little spitfire always has to embarrass you with her unladylike
behavior. Now you're blushing bright scarlet like when Uncle Seafred
and Wallace made sport of your ability to sew; but this is to time to
play as Charlotte hugs you more like a wife than a sister. Oh, your
face will be purple by the time I arrive to rescue you from the
spitfire.

But as I come nearer to you, I see how handsome your captain, er,
commander friend is. Such gorgeous and thoughtful brown eyes and that
curly hair, but like you--he's too skinny! And he looks so nervous
too. I bet Charlotte scared him with her loose morals--just like some
Mademoiselle Frog! Well, he seems to be steadying himself, so perhaps
William can properly introduce us.

Hornblower? Oh, yes, Horatio Hornblower. William was best man at the
Commander's wedding, was lieutenant with him on the Renown, and now
serving under that man on the Hotspur.

Oh, the Captain can't be our company for dinner like I hoped. Now, I
won't have to hear Charlotte claim this man could not digest my plain
cooking, but what does she know about food? She can daydream about
this educated gentleman feasting on French delicacies, but my eyes do
not deceive me. That man still has the anxious eyes of a newly wedded
man returning to his bride. It's the same look my Harry had--just
before he was murdered on our honeymoon!

Dear me, I'm being too emotional, but the stories William's told
about that Hornblower! This man is reckless, just like Uncle Seafred
taking William on such wild, imaginative adventures. William's not
very creative, but somehow dear, departed Seafred woke something in
him, some sense of bloodthirst. That word's not right, but it's
something that's inside you men that leaders awake in their sleepy
followers. First it was our uncle, not it's this Hornblower fellow.
Oh, didn't William get enough excitement aboard the Renown with him!
Hopefully the Hotspur will be their last posting together and my dear
brother will get stationed on land where it is safe and stable.

Oh, I shouldn't criticize Hornblower, but that man leads only to
unpredictability. I never liked William being in the navy, with the
uncertainty about employment, but I tolerate it; but that man is
going to only guide my brother to lost limbs or worse, like lead him
to mutiny. I can only hope William never serves again under this
unorthodox man, which is most likely, even though they're more than
just comrades-in-arms.


PART THREE - Air

William Bush, sailor in His Majesty's Royal Navy. Eleven years of
service to the sea on His Majesty's Ship--"Vigilant", "Lady
Iris", "Superb", "Conqueror", "Renown", and "Hotspur". Commissioned
as lieutenant in July of 1796, before serving aboard "Superb"...

Would Captains and Admirals really bother to read the entirety of
this boring service record when selecting candidates for their staff?
Not bloody likely! Such documentation won't impress them, for who
among distinguished gentlemen seek to command the most mundane? Oh
yes, some may archive historical events well and may recall events
chronicled about the "Renown" in the "Naval Chronicle", but that'll
be the extent of recognition. Nelson himself would merely yawn as he
read the unremarkable name Bush before going to the next records,
selecting the most choice of candidates--men of both ancestry and
accomplishment.

My Dear Brother, you've been successful in your naval career, but how
would you describe your fortune? If some Commodore were to ask "What
have you done for His Majesty's Royal Navy?", you'd graciously
reply "Sir, it's been a treasure, er, pleasure to do my duty for king
and country." Oh, such mediocre modesty would not profit any
possibility of promotion because you'd decline to speak of the
battles you've fought at sea, not because of your dislike for
conversation, but because you've no imagination.

William, have you no ambition in your chosen career? All officers are
considered aspiring, but you attempt no effort to ascend the naval
hierarchy. Your commanding officer looks to be eight years younger
than you, but he is Captain! Captain at what, say twenty-five? Sure,
you entered the navy older than most midshipmen, but you were
educated well by the knowledge of Uncle Seafred. At age eleven, you
recited the Articles of War from memory; but it took you over five
years of service in the navy before you attempted your lieutenant
examinations. Bloody procrastinator! Oh, I know you loathe
mathematics, but Mother and I motivated you to study navigation. You
applied yourself until you passed the naval examination--on your
first attempt! Yet why, Dear Brother, have you not aspired further?

Oh, Dear Brother, why do I bother to contemplate your fate when I am
neither your mother nor your wife? I'm not destined for such ordinary
outcomes, when I've the battling fortitude of Mother. Certainly, she
condemned herself to the doom of womankind, but she was resilient
through such drudgery. Such courage is admirable, especially when she
became widowed with the audacity to refuse the charity of her
brothers. Yet, I will consider fortune because I have neither my own
family-- nor my own career.

Ah, the royal procession has commenced to celebrate the successful
campaigns of His Majesty's Royal Lieutenant William Bush. The
Princesses Elizabeth and Charlotte approach their beloved Prince,
curtsying in the stately manner suitable to their station before
bequeathing one token of their imperial affection. They bow before
the Royal Captain, captivated by this regal gentleman of both
ancestry and accomplishment. Well, that's how the Exiled Prince
should be greeted as he has sacrificed himself to be the slave of
this empire of King George.

Instead, it's humiliation for William as Lizzie and Charlotte battle
for his affections. One seeks to be his mother, the other one his
mistress as they arm themselves with sisterly kisses. His
embarrassment colors his deeply tanned face like some fatal wound,
with even Margaret misbehaving in his presence as she fights
Charlotte. Do his sisters not realize he experiences enough war at
sea with Frenchmen and Spaniards, so he doesn't need to endure the
hostility of women on land.

Oh, now Lizzie is accusing me of being materialistic. Yes, I did ask
if William came bearing gifts like the magi, but that's in humor. He
certainly wouldn't come bequeathing us frankincense and myrrh, let
alone gold. Well, it's my subtle way of acknowledging his monetary
presents. He has been sending us half his pay, but mainly to me, so
that I can make investments in his name. Yes, Sir Richard has not
been successful with the decadent Napoleon stealing from the coffers
of Europe, but William will be pleased with what I have acquired for
him.

Finally, William can introduce us to his momentarily forgotten guest"
the Horatio Hornblower! But, Charlotte how can you not recollect
anything about Horatio? How can your mind ignore the most basic facts
about this man--he's married! William was his best man, if your
husband obsessed mind can remember anything beyond the nearest thing
wearing trousers.

Hmm, this Horatio's the observant one with his cinnamon colored eyes
rapidly shifting. Ah, that goes with what William's said about this
man--he's the most brilliant tactician ever! Well, Dear Brother's
easily impressed by clever minds who can outwit his single-
mindedness. But, hmm, I wonder what Horatio's eyes deduce as he
observes his Lieutenant's sisters behave in the most unladylike
manner. Oh, his spicy eyes just looked straight into my own!

Ah, the more I look at Horatio's eyes, the more mysterious he
becomes. Seems more like a tragic figure like Hamlet or Lear as his
eyes reflect not his observations, but some inner turmoil. Well, this
baffles me, but I won't have time to solve this mystery. Horatio's
secrets are going to be his, but hopefully it won't lead to some
dramatic end like those in Shakespeare's tragedies. Oh well, that's
not my problem I won't get to meet him, since he's generously
allowing us to take William home.

Dear Brother, it's time for me to motivate you to be more like
Horatio, at least in the matter of ambition!

PART FOUR Water

Mother, your blue-eyed water sprite lives! From your unearthly
paradise, I can imagine you smiling upon what you observe as sisters
greet their brother returning from the battlefields of the ocean.
This time, he has not survived the watery tomb in Kingston, where he
was victim to the devilish Spaniards, but the demonic French on both
sea and land. Mother, please forgive me, for I am not happy at the
sight before me as his eyes do not joyously focus upon his family,
but upon his Goddess.

He remains fanatically devoted to his mistress, the Sea. Why did his
minuscule imagination have to be awakened by the exaggerated tales of
Uncle Seafred, who described encounters with pirates and mermaids.
Since the days of his youth, she has tempted his passion for
adventure with her unpredictable dance, as her waves sparkle with one
thousand shades of blue to blind his sense of logic. This enchantment
of hers captures his emotions as she challenges him through
unpredictable weather, but does he not observe the storms luring
other men to her watery paradise.

William, why do you obey this whimsical mistress? You are but one
pawn under her command, who will loyally sacrifice your life if she
demands it. You are sport who serves her fickle nature, ordered not
by the Crown, but by she who will sentence you to death for the
smallest degree of disobedience. I have conversed with you on this
matter of survival on many occasions, but you will not betray this
duty as you consider that treason.

Oh, why do I pity you? The decision to become slave to the forces of
Mars and Neptune was your own, not mine. You could have been your own
master had you chosen the career of tailor, blacksmith, or farmer.
Yes, any work of the common man condemns you to be servant to George,
but you would command more aspects of your life. The decision of
food, clothing, and shelter would be your own on land, not that of
your captain at sea. I should not be ashamed as you have been
successful in your occupation; but you are not the brother I adored
who sacrificed the education of Master Jamison so that Mother could
endure widowhood without the charity of her brothers.

Charlotte, must you mortify the family in public with your
uninhibited behavior? You are my own twin sister, but thankfully we
are nothing alike concerning our natures. I do not understand how
William can tolerate your continuously ill-advised behavior in
society, especially in the presence of his superior officer. I
imagine you will claim attempts at humoring him, but it only results
in humiliation. Elizabeth may reprimand these actions, but you is
like our deceased Uncle Seafred and Brother Wallace whose nature ran
its course without bending to any discipline.

I make my own efforts to disengage you, but you will not be
distracted. Usually, I am successful, but today you possess the
consistency of William. How can the both of you behave so reliably
like single-minded children?
Charlotte, why must you consistently complain about matters of money?
You are the spendthrift of the family, constantly dissatisfied with
your wardrobe. Certainly, you earn some agreeable sum of shillings
whenever you instruct dance lessons, but you gamble it away when you
play whist with the Statham Sisters. My, you're the hypocrite when
finances are concerned, and you're disturbing my thoughts

My, no person in existence can be as demanding upon my usual keen
awareness as Charlotte! Now, I must focus upon Mister Hornblower

Hmm, he could be described as handsome, but his cinnamon brown eyes
obscure any beauty he possesses. Within his irises are reflected the
ugly aspects of human nature, but it does not color this man as evil.
He mirrors the brutality of the world, but it is not because he is
unjust. It merely is that he forces himself to suffer, to endure the
burdens for everyone else. He is like William in this matter, but why
is all his beauty obscured by the darkness of hell?

Why does this man possess such melancholy? Has he endured unspeakable
tragedies that have murdered his joy in life? Does this depression
perpetuate his survival because he is ashamed of his suffering in
sadness? There are no answers to these questions that one may
describe openly, but he possesses the drama of emotion. I have
knowledge of such melancholy, for I am kindred spirit to this man.

Horatio Hornblower does not coincide with the descriptions of my
brother. William has little imagination, but how can he not observe
the pain of his commander? Lieutenants have the duty to attend the
needs of their captains--especially in silence. William and Horatio
both possess obvious friendship, but is there unseen rifts developing
between them?

Unfortunately, Horatio cannot visit with us but these few moments,
for he must depart for the company of the Admiraltyand his wife. If
my recollections are correct, William described as her as the most
imprisoning of treasures because she coerced him into the most hasty
of marriages. Does Horatio battle against temptation as he converses
with us, because he must confront the misfortune of his union? This
information would require the most inhumane of tortures to be
admitted by this man, but perhaps I shall speak to him someday soon.

PART FIVE - Fire

Well, looks like the Lieutenant's home from the sea. And what
treasure has he brought home? Absolutely nothing!

Truth be told, I don't have all the facts concerning Mister Frugal's
latest voyage. I know he's no pirate bearing gold and jewels, but
come on! At least bring home something other than laundry, say, some
seashellsor prize money? C'mon Lieutenant, you get a bigger cut as
second officer, but no! You send all that treasure money home to
Misses Lizzie, along with half your pay. And what does she do with
it? I'll tell you what she does; she buys the ugliest curtains in all
of England!

Ah, speaking of Misses Lizzie, my dear eldest sister, she exists for
one reason only--to make my life miserable. How does she succeed in
doing this? She criticizes every little thing I do.

Like now! Can't I be so happy to see dear old Will and made a joyous
sound-but no! My sister thinks I need to keep some permanent stiff
upper like an aristocrat. Hello Lizzie--Will's been gone to sea for
how many months and I'm not repressing any love for him because you
know how the navy works--he'll be right back on deck tomorrow.

Oh, she thinks she's my mother or something. It's always "Charlotte
don't do this or that" because all she cares about is appearance. Oh
yes, I care about how I look, certainly I do, but who cares about my
behavior. Hey, I'm only humiliating myself if I do something stupid.
Hasn't Lizzie heard of individuality? But no, she's afraid I'll get
myself pregnant before marriage--just like her! Egad--Miss Motherly
did something sinful? She's been atoning ever since for her
immorality, but why do I have to suffer when I'm not the one sleeping
around.

Anyway, William's home! Oh, he'll laze for a week or two at home
before his holiday is over, but he's home! That means it's time to
try to get him wed, as if that'll ever happen though. At least I can
change his hairstyle; it'll make him look younger and handsomer,
especially if he's getting gray hair and wrinklesand he isn't that
old either!

Really, Will, you do look handsome in your uniform--but it's so
unfashionable. Buckled shoes, stockings, and breeches? That is so
eighteenth century! And ponytails? Short hair is in. Sure, Boney is
influencing clothing, but you'll be kicking him out of Frogland soon
enough. So please, just do something about the hair! Well, at least I
can be thankful you don't wear nasty old wigs like Uncle Lewis.

Oh Will! That's one handsome master and commander with you--a young
Captain mind you, one who is educated and gentlemanlike--any girl
could tell this from a mile away! Oh, also ambitious--unlike my
brother. This other officer is probably twenty-four or so and will be
admiral by age thirty-five! It's definitely not like William, I know
it.

But still, your Captain friend here, well...he looks a little sloppy.
Sure, he's handsome, but his uniform is so ill-fitted. Oh, it must be
because he has the wonderful scurvy diet that you Limeys eat, but
still he's way to skinny and gangly. Oh, tall, dark, and handsome he
is, huh? But, oh, he really needs fashion help too!

Maybe I should write an appeal to Lord Admiral Hood to change the
uniform regulations. Then again, he's a man--at least in his pictures
in the "Naval Chronicle"--with one bloody awful wig on His Baldness.

Huh? What's this noise I hear from Will's lungs? Laughter? Does he
actually have a sense of humor? Hmm, I remember him best moping about
the house, wanting to go back to sea. No, that's not it; it's Lizzie
and Barbara Jane doing everything for him like he's some prince--now
that's a joke. Those royal pests act like women in some harem
competing for his favor, as if he can decide anything if they do it
for him. Bloody sisters

Now back to the Captain, that tall, dark, and handsome thing of a
man. Oh, it's Hornblower! Hornblower, Horatio Hornblower! Oh, it's
Will's naval idol"that clever tactician who can do mathematics! He's
so unlike you, Mister Frugal and Unimaginative Permanent Lieutenant
who'll maybe be Captain when you're sixty-five!

Oh, I wish something would hush Margaret. Usually my twin sister, my
antithesis, is quiet"as in golden silence, but today she has some
lip. What's her problem, besides being some book snob who uses up any
extra money on her unladylike education. Like she's going to catch
some wealthy barrister or sheep farmer when the only feminine art she
mastered is sewing! Hey, I'm the same age as her and unmarried too,
but I know I've the better chance at a good marriage. So there Miss
Information!

Ah, but anyhow, the poor, the dear Captain has a name that is both
beautiful and hilarious at the same instant. His parents must like
Shakespeare, especially "Hamlet", but this man will not be some
victim of tragedy. Oh, but he must also be pities with a name like
Hornblower, unless he's from some long line of royal trumpeters.

Oops, I said something impolite. That happens when you speak before
thinking, but such things are cured. It's easily remedied as my
Aunties taught me"put on your most earnest face, courtesy with
humility, and keep those eyes downcast like some shamed child. This
ought to work on him if he's like any other man, although he's more
lovely than other man.

Oh, Will's finally getting around to introducing us. Poor boy, he's
always been a little slow around woman, especially if they're
domineering matrons like Lizzie.

Ah, he's mentioned the dress shop? He usually doesn't do that
because he's like all men, too ashamed to admit his dependent sisters
are financially successful on their own. Well, how about mentioning
why your sisters need your monetary support? Margaret needs it for
her snobby education and Barbara Jane for her investments with that
conman Sir Richard. I open my mouth, but he interrupts! How
unexpected, since he usually is good about manners, but not today!
Rude, rude, rudejust like Lizzie and Margaret!

Oh bloody hell! The Captain's not staying around! Leaving us ladies
for that bloody Admiralty. Oh damn, but I'm sure I'll meet him again.
Next time we'll have a conversation, rather than boring Will
receiving all the attention. Now it's off to Chichester and thirty
hours of Lieutenant Bush's naval exploits told in his unimaginative
manner

NOTE OF THE AUTHORESS I apologize for all historical inaccuracies
that may have occurred due to my laziness concerning research, but
this is my first Hornblower fanfiction in preparation for a much more
ambitious work--William Bush before he joined the Navy!