The Death of Dr. Hepplewhite
by Liv

Author's notes: This scene takes place in episode 2 after Bracegirdle
invites Hornblower to the "celebratory tot of rum".

Hornblower gets up from the ship's bow and joins Bracegirdle and the
rest of the men in the "celebratory tot of rum". The atmosphere at
the celebration is pleasant, although there is tension between Foster
and Captain Hammond, as they are determined to fight their duel the
following morning. Pellew is bemused when he hears about the duel; to
him it's typical of Foster's arrogance and stubbornness. But he
stifles his opinion and acknowledges both Hornblower's and Foster's
bravery in saving the Indefatigable from the fire ship.

By the end of the evening, when the men are laden with rum, Hammond
attempts to reconcile with Foster. He offers a handshake and says "My
congratulations, Captain, on you fine feat of heroism."

Foster says nothing and does not return the handshake.

Hammond looks uncomfortable, withdraws the proffered handshake, and
pleads "will you not reconcile with me man?"

Foster squawks "I will not! We shall fight our duel tomorrow, where
we will discover who the weaker man is! Sir!"

Hammond is offended by Foster's lack of goodwill, and in a raised
voice says "Very well! I shall see you tomorrow morning at nine
o'clock sharp on the shore of Old Dickson's Bay!"

And meet on the shore of Old Dickson's Bay the next morning they do.
The only trouble is, both drank heavily the night before and are
suffering a hangover. Foster blinks several times to keep his eyes
open. There are scores of men witnessing the event. Dr Hepplewhite is
the adjudicator. Hornblower, Pellew and Bracegirdle are watching from
a cliff.

"Who do you think will win, sir?" asks Hornblower.

Bracegirdle, with some wisdom, replies "It doesn't matter who wins,
Horatio. I fear both men have made fools of themselves already. The
one who wins will live with the death of the other."

Dr Hepplewhite goes through the formalities, and Hammond and Foster
stagger out the paces. They turn and face each other.

"One!.Two!.Three!.Four!Five!.Fire!!"

Foster fires first but in his drunken state he completely misses the
mark. In fact, what he shoots is nothing but Dr Hepplewhite himself.

There is a stunned, heavy silence as it dawns on everyone what has
just happened. Dr Hepplewhite grimaces in pain and clutches his
wound. Hornblower scrambles down the cliff to be by Dr Hepplewhite's
side. Foster, though feeling half drunk, is fully aware of what he
has just done and turns pale with horror. He looks at his pistol and
lets it slip heavily from his hand to the ground.

Dr Hepplewhite is shuddering in Hornblower's arms. His dying words
are: "Ironic, isn't it, Horatio, that they shoot at the one who is
supposed to save the lives of others? Yet.I..cannot.save..myself"
and he dies.

Foster is standing there shocked. Hammond observes Foster's
countenance and goes over to him to again proffer a handshake of
friendship and forgiveness. And this time Foster doesn't just shake
his hand, but embraces him and hugs him like a brother.