Happy Birthday!
by HMS Lozzy

"Mr Hornblower" Captain Pellew called from the quarterdeck, "If you
would be so kind and come to my cabin, Sir,"

Hornblower looked perplexed, why would the captain need to see him?
He was on watch at the moment and he could think of no reason why
Pellew would want to speak with him. He took a moment to
answer, "Aye, aye, sir"

"I wonder what the captain wishes to see you for?" Kennedy grinned
at him,
"You haven't been attending the rum lately have you Horatio. Just
because it is you birthday, sir"

"Today if you please Mr Hornblower!" Pellew called again, "I don't
intend to waste anymore of my time with your dawdling sir!"

Nodding and following his captain's orders, Hornblower brushed past
a grinning Kennedy, and made his way to the captain's cabin.

* * *

Just before entering, he took a moment to straightened out his
uniform, still wondering what he could have done wrong, not that he
could think of anything. Whatever it was he would have to face it
like a gentleman and an officer of his Britannic Majesties Navy. He
knocked on the door.

"COME!" Came the usual call.

Holding his hat in one hand and the other behind his back,
Hornblower stepped over the threshold.

"You asked to see me sir?" he stood to attention.

Pellew standing by the windows at the back of the cabin, turned to
face him, his expression unreadable. "Ah yes Mr Hornblower, there
is something I wish to question you about."

Hornblower was a little worried at those words, "Uh-huh," he
stretched his rubbed his neck against the collar of his woollen
jacket, he suddenly felt a little uncomfortable, " What is it you
would like to know sir?

Pellew faced him, his dark eyes boring into Hornblower's, which were
facing the windows behind him. "You Sir! Have been keeping secrets
from me!"
Momentarily Hornblower's mouth fell open and he looked at Pellew,
panic rushed through him, secrets!, what secrets? "Sir I, I..?"

"There is some vital information which you have refuse to inform me
of, and not informing me of it means sir! You are betraying me! your
crew! your ship! and your king!" He emphasised each part of that
sentence, and glared at him.

Poor Hornblower didn't know what to think, what to say, he didn't
know what information he was suppose to of been keeping secret. Had
somebody set him up? He was about to protest his innocence when he
saw Pellew hard face break into a smile. Poor Horatio was even more
confused.

Pellew moved toward him beaming "Sir Mr Kennedy informs me that
today is your birthday."

Archie! Horatio breathed with relief, he shook his head. He guessed
that
Archie had probably informed the captain and would have found it
funny to get Captain Pellew to wind him up because he had not told
the captain himself. He would get Archie later for what he had
done. "Yes sir" he answered to Pellew's question.

Pellew nodded, "Well let me be the first to wish you happy birthday
sir." He walked past Hornblower towards the brandy decanters at the
side of the room. He poured out two glasses, passing one to
Hornblower, who accepted it gratefully.

Pellew then turned to face him, raising his glass he gave Hornblower
a toast. He knew that the man before him had something special
within him and he hoped his toast would show this. "To a fine young
officer, who has a great future ahead of him, may your trials be
easily overcome, may all your missions be successful and my your
life be filled with joy and hope. Sir your health." He raised his
glass and took a sip. Hornblower responding with his own, before
saying, "Thank you sir." He felt very proud, not many officers
received a toast from their captains on their birthdays.

Pellew lowered his glass, "Now sir, I have a feeling you will be
wanted in the wardroom."

"Sir?" Hornblower knew he really should be going back on watch, not
heading off to the wardroom.

Pellew glanced at him and smiled, "The midshipmen will have you back
on the quarterdeck soon enough. You have better not keep them
waiting sir."

"No sir, thank you sir." Hornblower nodded and headed out of the
room.

* * *

"Ah Mr Hornblower, come for your celebratory tot of rum, sir"

"er..Yes I believe so Mr Bracegirdle." As he entered the wardroom
he had seen that all the other officers had gathered there and were
waiting for him, each with a tot of rum in their hands.

"Horatio," Archie moved up to him and placed a glass into his hand.

"Archie, you.." He was about to get Archie back for what he had
done earlier, but he could not finish his sentenced as Archie smiled
cheekily and flashed his blue eyes up at him. Horatio could not
help but grin and look angry at him at the same time.

"Mr Hornblower was there something you wished to say?" Archie
laughed.

"Archie…you"

"SPEECH!!! SPPEEECH!!!!" The men had over heard Archie's comment and
thought that he wanted Horatio to say something.

Horatio was not used to standing on ceremony and giving speeches, he
looked down at his glass, gripping it nervously.

"Come on Mr Hornblower you've got to say something sir." Mr
Bracegirdle grinned, moving up behind him. He knew exactly how Mr
Hornblower would feel about this predicament and Mr Bowls did not
miss the look of embarrassment that crossed his face.

Horatio felt he had better say something, anything to get through
this moment as quickly as possible, "UH-HUH!!" he began, the officer
fell silent, "Men, I would..I would like to say thank you for
this." He raised his glass, they laughed, "I don't think I could
serve on a as good a ship as the Indefatigable."

"Here, here!" Cried Mr Bowls.

"And I thank you for this kindness, sirs"

Archie raised his glass, "Gentlemen, a toast to Mr Horatio
Hornblower, a gullible fool, an officer and gentlemen! Happy
Birthday Horatio!"

The men all cheered "Happy Birthday Sir!" as they raised their
glasses in a toast.

Horatio smiled, he liked the fact that the men had given a toast,
but he was not keen on all the attention, and he would get Archie
later for his comment about him being a gullible fool. Maybe a bit
of bilge duty would be good. He grinned at the thought, as he drank
his rum. Then he remembered what he had to say next. "Thank you
gentlemen," he called looking round the room.

"Sirs I have one final toast to make, sir the king!" They all stood
to attention and raised their glasses, "THE KING!" They all
chorused and shared another tot of rum.

Fin

Happy Birthday Horatio, (salutes)