His Last Request
by Skihee

A 'missing scene' to explain where Bush was during a certain fateful event...

Bush leaned gingerly against the low fence, wincing at the movement of still
new stitches. He held himself carefully, left arm to his side, to prevent as
much movement as possible. The night breeze on Kingston was the only saving
factor, providing slight cooling through evaporation. Why anyone would want
to live in such a torrid zone was beyond him. He felt the trickle of sweat
down his back and sighed. "I could do with one of those washdeck showers,"
he muttered to himself.

He squinted at the painful twinge in his side as he eyed the marine guard
attending him. Where did they think he was going to go? Ah well. Whatever.
If he passed out and fell over, perhaps the chit would pick him up. What
was taking Clive so long?

"Mr. Bush! Sorry to keep you waiting. Mr. Kennedy took a bit longer than I
imagined and then Mr. Hornblower arrived."

"Indeed. Those two may need some time to discuss events of the recent past."

"Yes." Clive pressed his lips together and stared at the ground. Meeting
the gaze of Bush he said, "I fear Mr. Kennedy is not long for this world. It
amazes me that he is as lucid as he is."

"That is not something I or Mr. Hornblower would wish to hear, sir."

"Avoiding the facts will not change them, Mr. Bush. I fear this whole affair
will become a greater trajedy than it already is. Come." He took Bush's
elbow. "Let me help you to the tavern. The food will be better fare than
provided by your wardens. As long as you are with me, there will be no
questions asked."

The rickshaw arrangement Clive arranged to cart Bush to dinner was only
slightly better than walking. The marine guard marched behind as Clive
walked by his side, watching him with the concern only a doctor could have.

The tavern, if it could be called such, was more of an outdoor affair, which
was probably for the best considering the heat. The two of them were seated
and Clive ordered for both of them, steak, rare, with yams and greens.

"You are being very optimistic, Dr. Clive, that I could down such a meal."

"Indeed, you need it, sir, to build up your blood."

"You seek to provide a healthy subject for the gallows, do you?"

"Do not jest about such a thing, Mr. Bush."

"Who said I was jesting?"

Clive poked at the candle lighting the table and seemed to be chewing on
something. The waiter brought glasses and filled them with red wine.

"Leave it!" ordered Clive. Raising his glass, he said, "To your health, Mr.
Bush."

Bush nodded his head. "Thank you, doctor." Bush watched as Clive downed the
contents of his glass and filled it again. He topped off Bush's glass.

"Tell me, doctor. What is the feel of the court?"

Clive took some moments to answer him, fiddling with the candle, turning his
glass, sliding the wine bottle. Looking over the patrons in the open air
eatery, he rested his eyes upon his patient.

"Not good, Mr. Bush, not good. The Admiralty will have its day, and they
care not .... whom. As long as the culprit is flushed out and dealt with.
That IS why this farce goes on. Farce, yes. You and I both know the Captain
was mad. Mad as a hatter," he said lowly, surveying who might be listening.

"Could you not tell them that?"

Clive smiled wryly. "Is his majesty's navy accustomed to placing the insane
in charge of its ships? Would one of Nelson's own be considered capable of
going raving mad? They would laugh me to scorn, sir. Claim I was protecting
the real mutineers and implicate ME in the crime as well. No. I am no fool,
sir. It has been called mutiny and mutiny it shall stand. And, the
mutineers will pay the price, at the end of rope," he spat bitterly.

"I suppose what you say is true. Is there nothing to be done."

Clive shook his head. "Pellew is for Hornblower. Hammond is against him.
Collins, the neutral one. The burden of verdict WILL fall on his shoulders,
I have no doubt. They are looking for a scapegoat, Mr. Bush. At the least,
a scapegoat."

"You do not think they will inquire further if one confesses?"

"I pray not, sir."

"The prizes, the destruction of the fort, the capture of the Spanish, not bad
for a days work."

"Indeed. Those events may save the rest of us."

"But those events were made possible by the cunning and capable Mr.
Hornblower."

Clive stared at this glass. "Indeed."

"Should he be made to take the blame as well?"

Clive breathed in quickly and exhaled heavily. "I know not what is to be
done. It is an injustice. Indeed, it is."

Bush made a brave effort to consume as much of the meal as possible. Clive
urged him with "One more bite, sir, one more bite." And, then the threesome
made their way back to the prison. The marine guard assisting Dr. Clive
until the walk and deep breathing brought him out of his wine induced stupor.
The man had an amazing constitution. By the time they reached the gates,
you would not have known he had partaken of a single glass of wine.

Reaching the first gated entry to the hospital section of the prison, the two
of them became aware of a great shout going on.

"Is that Mr. Kennedy?" asked Bush.

Clive leaned Bush into the marine guard, hurrying to the hospital gate.

"What is going on? What is this racket?"

The guard unlocked the gates allowing Clive entrance.

"Mr. Kennedy! What is the meaning of this?"

"Let me out. I must speak to the Captain. Clive, take me to see Captain
Pellew or, or Hammond! Quickly man! I must see them!" Kennedy stood
grasping the bars. His wound had reopened and blood was soaking the bandage.
Sweat beaded on his forehead and upper lip.

"Mr. Kennedy, you must calm yourself." Clive rushed around the bars to him,
suspending him before he fell to the floor.

Kennedy gulped. "I must see the captain, Clive! I must! Take me to him.
Call them here. I must confess! I must!"

"Mr. Kennedy, calm yourself, sir. You are not well. Come lie back down."

"NO! I must see the captain. Take me to Hammond! Mr. Bush! Tell him.
Tell him to take me to Hammond."

Bush lowered himself onto his bunk, sitting opposite Kennedy where Clive had
lowered him.

"Mr. Kennedy. You have opened your wound. You are feverish, delusional."

"Dr. Clive. I must speak to the captains! I am not raving, sir!"

"You won't be speaking to anyone if you continue to rip open these stitches.
Now if you do not want to bleed to death this night, you must CALM DOWN!"

Kennedy swallowed, allowing himself to be pushed prone in the bed.

Clive called to the guard to send an orderly with fresh bandages. Retrieving
a damp cloth, he began to mop Kennedy's brow.

"Don't you see, I must speak to the Captains. Mr. Bush, dont you see?"

"Mr. Kennedy..." Bush shook his head, at a loss for what to say.

Kennedy closed his eyes. "Listen to me. They are going to question Horatio
tomorrow. When they ask him if he pushed Captain Sawyer he will tell them
whatever he feels he must. Damn him! I know he will. It's that damned
captain of the ship mentality of his. He considered himself the captain, he
acted as the captain, making decisions. You know it's true, Bush, you know
it's true. Clive? He will take the blame! He will see himself as
ultimately in charge and he will take the blame. I cannot let him. We
cannot let him. Help me. You must help me."

"Kennedy...Archie..." said Bush.

"You know I'm right. You know it." Kennedy gazed at Clive as he worked to
remove his bandages and replace them. Kennedy grabbed Clive's hand. "Dr.
Clive, am I going to survive this wound?" Kennedy stared at the averted eyes
and laughed. "You need not answer. I already know. Let me do this! Let me
DO THIS! Horatio is a brilliant officer. England needs him whether she
recognizes that or not." He looked from Bush to Clive with imploring eyes.
"He's saved my life time and again, given me a reason to go on when I didn't
have one of my own. Help me. Help me help him. He's my friend."

"You can do nothing this night, Mr. Kennedy. The presiding captains will not
see you. In the state you are in now, they would say it was the fever."

"Then, you must make me well for tomorrow and take me to court to testify."
He held Clive's hand with an amazing grip.

"You will not survive the trip there, sir. It is suicide."

"I will survive for as long as it takes. Give me some willow-bark tea. Wash
this fever from me."

Clive knitted his brow at the suggestion. "You know of willowbark?"

Kennedy nodded.

"It is believed to enhance bleeding. It would not be wise."

"It will reduce my fever?"

"Yes."

"Give it to me. Get me to the court. Let me testify. I have to testify."

Clive and Bush stared at one another. Kennedy turned his head to Bush.

"Mr. Bush. Horatio is coming to see me in the morning. I made him promise
to come and see me before he went to court. Detain him, sir. Detain him as
long as you can. Do not let him stop me. Do not let him."

Clive prepared a needle and thread to repair the damage done once again.

"And, Clive, you must help me. Either take me yourself or provide a way. I
must go. I must." Kennedy began to cough.

Clive raised his head, seeing him through the spell. He sighed as he looked
at his feverish patient. He gazed at Bush, sadly.

"Do as he asks, Dr. Clive."

He finished bandaging Kennedy, gave him the tea, and collapsed in the chair
with a sigh.

Kennedy stared at Bush with hope in his eyes, closed them, and drifted off to
sleep.

Clive sighed. "No greater love is there than this, that a man lay down his
life for his friends."

"He will need his uniform, Dr. Clive," stated Bush. "One without a hole in
it."

Clive sighed, again. "I see I shall get little sleep this night. As you
like it, Mr. Bush. As I said before, these events are indeed a tragedy.
Shakespeare could not have done better. I do not know if his sacrifice will
be the balm of Gilead, but I suppose there is hope. Hope for the rest of us,
at least." Clive picked up his coat, and adjusted his wig back on his head.
He looked down at Kennedy. "A dying man should have his last request. " He
nodded at Bush. "I will be here early."

The end