Horatio and Maria: The True Story
An Epic
by Jackie Pena

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Part 2

Maria woke the next day feeling woozy from the effects of the
laudanum.

"Good afternoon my sweet. How do you feel?"

"Mmmm, afternoon? What time is it?" She struggled to sit up and
Horatio assisted her

"Twelve thirty." He said and kissed the palm of her hand.

Maria panicked. "Oh dear, I missed school! I must go."

Horatio knitted his brow. "Maria, you cannot go anywhere. The Doctor
put you under restricted bed rest for a few weeks."

"But my students need me. They have no teacher."

"Yes they do. Bridget is going to teach them while you recover and
Archie is going to assist with the duties at the shipping docks."

"Poor Bridget. She does too much. I do not know how she does it all."

Horatio cracked a smile. "My sweet Maria, always thinking of others
first."

"Horatio, may I have a mirror?"

Horatio bowed his head a bit in great concern for her and found a
small mirror.

"My love, I must prepare you before I give this to you. You have
several injures to your face. Both of your cheeks are bruised and
there is a cut on the right one and on your bottom lip. Your left eye
is bruised and slightly swollen."

He handed to mirror to her and she held it in front of her face.

She gasped in horror at what she saw.

"I look like a monster! How could your bear to look at me! Are you
not repulsed?"

"No I am not. I have seen worse injuries in battle. I just wish I
would have been there sooner and your beating would not have been so
bad, or if I would not have gone out...."

"Oh Horatio, do not blame yourself. The important thing is you saved
my life. If you would not have come to my Mother's home for lodging,
we would never have met and I surely would be dead by now at the
hands of my own Mother and Taylor."

Horatio felt a lump in his throat and swallowed hard.

Maria caressed his face. "I love you so much my dear Horatio. So
much, that you will never know."

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Archie met Bridget for lunch. They were watching the children play
in the school yard during recess from the classroom window. He put
his arm around her slim waist and nuzzled in her rose scented hair.
He then sat down on a chair pulling her onto his lap.

"Archie!"

He gave her kisses on her cheek. "I love you so much Bridget that it
drives me mad!"

She giggled and put her arms around him. He rested his head on her
bosom. Bridget began to stroke his hair.

"Oh Archie, you are so sweet and I love you for it."

He looked up at her. "You do?"

"Of course silly! I would not have accepted your proposal of marriage
if I didn't."

Archie flashed one of his bright smiles. "When I am with you, I feel
I am the happiest man in the world."

Their lips met for a kiss shortly before the bell rang signaling the
end of recess.

Bridget stood up from Archie's lap and Archie got up from the chair
to return to the shipping docks.

"May I walk you home after school my sweet?"

"Yes sir I would be delighted if you would."

"I'll see you then."

He bowed and walked towards the door, but he turned around hurried
towards Bridget and embraced her for another passionate kiss.

They both chuckled after the kiss.

"I love you my sweet redhead."

"And I you my handsome Leftenant."

He flashed his smile at her and left.

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Horatio fed Maria a late lunch which consisted of beef soup and
freshly baked bread. There was a knock on the door. It was Bridget
and Archie.

"Maria, how do you feel today?" Bridget asked. "I see that you are
being well taken care of by Mr. Hornblower here."

"H'ratio, may I speak with you? I just want to keep you up to date on
the shipments that were recieved and sent today." Archie said.

"I'll stay with Maria." Bridget said.

Both gentlemen excused themselves.

Maria was eager to ask Bridget about the schoolday. "How was school
today? Did the children behave? They must wonder what happened to me."

"They are fine and did behave. I told them that you have taken ill
and will be absent for a while. Here, these might cheer you up." She
handed Maria a stack of papers.

"The children decided to write you get well notes."

Maria's eyes started to tear up. "Oh how sweet of them."

Horatio returned after a short time. Bridget excused herself and left.

"Look Horatio, the children wrote to me!"

"Would you like for me to read them to you my sweet?" Horatio asked.

"Yes please, thank you. I am still a bit lightheaded from the
laudanum."

Horatio took the pile from her and started to read them aloud to her.

"Dear Miss Mason, please get well soon because you are my favorite
teacher and I will miss you, love, Cassandra."

Maria slowly cracked a smile. Horatio proceeded to read the rest of
the notes.

When he finished reading all of them to her, Maria was crying tears
of happiness.

"The children really adore you my love, but I do not blame them as do
I."

Maria cracked a smile. "Horatio, once we are married, would I have to
resign?"

Horatio knitted his brow. "No, why?"

"Well a lot of men do not approve of their wife working outside the
home."

He took her hand kissing her palm and placing it on his cheek. "I
would never ask you to stop doing what you love my sweet. I know it
makes you happy, and whatever makes you happy makes me happy."

"You look tired my dear Horatio. You should sleep in the guest
cottage for a well deserved rest."

He gently caressed her face. "I am fine, and I will not leave your
side until you are completely recovered."

"Horatio....."

"As your betrothed, I insist that I stay here, and you cannot change
my mind."

"Aye, aye, Mr. Hornblower. Not only are you most handsome, but also
bullheaded!" She giggled ."Ouch my lip I forgot."

He chuckled. "Thank you for your kind words."