A Good Report
by Sarah

Part One

Commodore Pellew had asked that Hornblower meet him about an urgent matter. As Hornblower stood outside the door waiting to be told to enter the myriads of possibilities as to why he had been asked to come ran through his mind, each seeming worse than the one before. The Pellew's voice rung out from within the cabin "come in Mr Hornblower" The sentry open the door and let Hornblower through.

Hornblower saluted Pellew who returned the salute.

"Sit down Mr Hornblower, I trust you are well and that your ship is ready to leave if circumstances permit it?" asked Pellew.

"Aye, Sir, the ship is ready and I am well sir," replied Hornblower.

"Good, I have a very special assignment for you, I particularly thought of you when this certain problem came up,"

"Thank you sir I am honoured that I would be considered-" but Hornblower was interrupted before he could finish.

"Lets not waste time with compliments. The Admiralty feels that it is loosing popularity in the publics eye and that it is causing a down turn in volunteers," Pellew picked up a letter that was on his desk then gave it to Hornblower "Read it please?" Hornblower took the letter "do you wish for me to read it out loud, sir?

"No, that's no necessary," replied Pellew.

Hornblower quickly read the letter;

'Dear Commodore -

It has come to our attention that due to the undiscriminating and brutal press gangs there is a great public apathy towards the navy. So that we the navy feel that we must raise the profile of the brave officers and willing volunteers that join our navy. In that light considering all evidence we at the Admiralty have decided to invite a distinguished journalist to spend six months aboard one of our ships. He will document the life of a sailor and give a positive report as to how they live. We believe this will improve the navy's reputation and lead to an influx of volunteers. We have left the choice of which Ship and its officers should have the honour of Mr T. Harman of The Times of London aboard their vessel. We must stress to you that it is vital that his report be positive and that it should show the navy in a good light.'

Hornblower looked up from the letter and handed it back "Am I to be the honoured captain,' Sir?"

"Yes you are. I chose you because I know you run a good ship and your reputation speaks volumes, the men love you they are loyal. This is why I chose you because I feel that you would be able to make sure of a good report," replied Pellew. "do you think you could fulfil the requirements?"

Pellew's request was as good as an order so he replied in the only way he could "Aye, Sir!"

"Good, here are your orders," Pellew handed him the packed that had been lying on his desk and gave them to Hornblower "you should expect Mr Harman tomorrow at six bells please show him every courteously"

>>The next day at six bells<<

Hornblower was in his cabin reading Great Expectations' Maria had giving it to him as a present. He would have to read it or when she asked him questions a bout it she would know that he hadn't read the book. There was a knock at the door Hornblower quickly tried to hide the book under a pile of papers. Then shouted, "Come in!"

"The boat carrying Mr Harman is here, Sir!" reported Bush.

Hornblower accidentally knocked the papers off his desk exposing the book. Hornblower quickly tried to gather them up. Bush noticed the book on the table and said in a mock accent "What larks Pip?"

"What are you going on about Mr Bush?" asked Hornblower

"It's in the book, Sir. Great expectations my mother gave it to me for my birthday. And so I had to read it, Sir," replied Bush blushing slightly.

"I understand, ha h'm it was a present from Maria. " said Hornblower

"Aye, aye, Sir!" replied Bush.

"Thank you Mr Bush, I will be there in a minute, I hope you will be civil to Mr Harman," replied Hornblower.

"Of course, Sir " replied Bush then went to see to Mr Harman.

Mr Harman was trying quite unsuccessfully to climb up onboard, eventually they had to heave him up the side. When his feet finally hit the deck Mr Harman looked quite flustered. Hornblower approached him and asked "Are you alright Mr Harman, I hope we didn't discommode you in any way?"

"I am fine thank you I'm just not used to these- ships, but I'm sure I will learn. You are captain Hornblower I presume?" said Mr Harman.

"Yes I am, and you are Mr Harman our distinguished journalist. I hope you will enjoy your stay onboard the HMS Hotspur, Mr Bush my First lieutenant here his gladly given up his quarters for you. I hope you will find them adequate?" asked Horn blower indicating to Bush who gave a slight nod as to confirm his claim.

"I hope I have not put Mr Bush out by coming aboard?" said Harman in a slightly worried tone.

"Of course not Mr Bush is never put out where my orders are concerned," replied Hornblower wittily "I'm afraid I will have to leave you now, a captains work is never done. Mr Bush will show you to your quarters and give you the tour. Good day to you, Sir!"