How Could You Do This to Me? by Horatio
by Michele

My dear friend... You have been gone now for a fortnight.

I sit here, in the Captain's cabin of my new ship -- I should be
a proud and happy man, sailing into my destiny, and into wonderful
new adventures. There is so much of life ahead of me, and much I
have to be thankful for.

And yet, I have nothing.

I sit at my desk, holding your worn queue ribbon... and turning over
and over in my trembling hands a book that was yours. I can feel the
warmth of your hands still on its worn cover. I know how you loved
it, and you read it so many times that the wear I see and feel upon
it is as a residue, and a shadow, of your very life.

It is as though you are still here.

But, of course, you are not. And you never will be again.

I keep thinking you are simply in another ship -- or remained in
Kingston, to join me in Portsmouth some months hence, when we shall
meet in a cosy, lamplit inn discussing our adventures since parting.
I find that each new day something happens which I long to tell you --
and then I realise that I will never be able to do so.

And once again the horrible, endless, bottomless emptiness comes over
me...

Archie.... my friend.. my brother... though I never told you so in
life. I miss your laugh, and your wise counsel. I miss your
irritating manner of telling me not to take myself so seriously. How
shall I ever now NOT take myself seriously, for all of the light and
warmth and mirth have gone from my life.

And I am left alone. Once more the solitary boy I was, before I knew
you.

But I can no longer BE a boy. I must be a man. I must face life,
and my duty, and I must do so in a manner that would honour the noble
sacrifice which you have made.. for me....

But Archie....

HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME???!??? HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME
ALONE???!!??!?

Why did you not move to one side, or down, when that cursed Spaniard
fired?? Why did you not move to safety??? Why....

Oh dear heaven....

Why did you not wait for me....

Why.... WHY WAS I NOT THERE TO PREVENT THIS????!!??

Oh Archie.. my dear friend... I have failed you.... I should have
kept you safe.. I was the superior officer... I had struck you in
the night raid boat, so many years ago... it was my fault that you
were left to be taken, and my fault that you languished alone in
prison for two years....

And yet, at Muzillac... and now.... you saved my life.....

You saved my life... And I could not protect you....

I didn't notice... I didn't notice because I was too busy
promenading on cliffs having conversations....

I didn't notice you being mortally wounded because I was too busy
commanding this cursed ship, and too busy concerning myself with
William's minor wound....

And you... you who were my brother... Thou wert my guide,
philosopher, and friend... * I didn't even notice that you had
received the wound which took your life...

And I couldn't protect you.....

Oh Archie... how could you leave me... how could you do this to me??

How could you leave me alone with nothing...

Nothing but my regrets......

How will I ever face life, without you... accepting me without
condition or reservation... seeing in me none of the faults which
constantly plague me....

How could you do this to me.....

 

 

 

 

 

*Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, IV

 

 

[Special thanks to Das for the ideas of the queue ribbon and the
book.]