Horatio, Archie, and Bush Do Laundry
by Dierdre and Michele
Manic Moment: Horatio, Archie, and Bush Do The Laundry
[The idea for this post came from Das, and this post is a co-
authorship. Many of the ideas, and lines, including the punchline,
are her original ideas. ~M.]
"I do not understand this, Archie. One would have thought
officers in his Majesty's Navy would not be requested and required to
launder their own garments!" Horatio Hornblower tossed another white
ruffly shirt onto the wardroom floor, where he, Kennedy, and Bush sat
(in a most undignified manner) sorting their soiled garments.
"Your frustration is noted, H'ratio, but I have no answers,
for I am
merely Fourth Lieutenant aboard this ship." Archie threw a pair of
trousers onto the growing pile.
"Once again, my words return to haunt me.." Bush
noted, but there was
a smile in his blue eyes, as he crumpled a dark neckcloth into a ball
and watched as it sailed into the sea of clothing. "Tell me,
gentlemen, has it always been like this aboard this ship on washing
Kennedy and Hornblower exchanged a knowing glance before Archie
responded. "Well, Mr Bush, laundry day here has always been....
interesting. I must confess, however, that things do get a bit messy
when Mr Wellard's trousers accidentally make their way into our
Horatio rolled his eyes. "Indeed, yes. And then there
was the time
when Captain Sawyer's straitjacket was found in our laundry basket..."
"Yes, it was quite a to-do when Dr Clive came looking for it..."
William smiled at the image. "I would like to have seen
expression -- and yours, for that matter -- when you tried to explain
"I won't even go into that..." Kennedy half-muttered,
as he threw his
last shirt onto the laundry pile.
"Well, that's it, gentlemen," Horatio declared, getting
to his feet
and dusting off his behind. "What kind of soap shall we use?"
"May I remind you that we ARE sailors," Bush said,
also standing. "Of
course, we shall use Tide..."
Kennedy laughed, but Horatio looked puzzled. "With respect,
would you know so much about it?"
"My uncle was a blacksmith... and my aunt was a laundress...."
"Come, gentlemen... no time for soul-searching -- the laundry awaits!"
"Aye, sir," Archie agreed, as he began to gather
up the clothes into
a large wicker basket. Horatio helped him, and the two younger
officers, led by Bush, carried it to the galley.
The men found the galley deserted, but the steward had left
washbasin full of water on the stove for them, as was his custom on
wash day, as a courtesy. The steward also knew, however, to get the
heck out of the way, for three men and a tub was far too much for him
to want to deal with.
"Good... he's heated it for us this time..." Archie
noted, as he and Horatio set down the basket.
"Does that make a difference?" Horatio asked.
"Will you NEVER come to understand this, H'ratio??"
Kennedy asked, in some frustration. "Yes, of COURSE hot water
makes a difference! Not ALL of us like to use, er, bodily fluids to
remove the stains from our garments!"
"Oh dear..." Hornblower grimaced. "I remember...
Ferrol we had no choice..."
Bush began sorting the garments into darks and lights. "Do
want to hear this story??" he ventured.
"I am not sure, sir," Kennedy said, as he and Horatio,
some difficulty, removed the heavy basin of water from the stove and
set it on the floor. "Ugh! When are they going to have a
Taplingware party on this ship??* We need one of those new
lightweight plastic washbasins!"
William backed away as the steam rose from the freshly boiled
It was beginning to cause his hair to curl, and indeed a lock was
coaxed forward, onto his forehead. "It's getting a little
warm in here, gentlemen; may I suggest we proceed??"
"Of course, sir," Horatio said, "that was my
along." He turned to Kennedy. "Now, Archie, how can I
remove this coffee stain from my shirt?"
The blond officer grinned. "I thought it was a tea stain...."
Hornblower rolled his eyes again. "No, Archie, the tea
didn't stain, remember?? It's coffee... Remember? I needed
it to keep me awake whilst on 36-hour watch..."
"It didn't work..." Kennedy deadpanned.
"I know.... Blasted decaf...."
"Gentlemen.. the laundry??"
"Yes, sir..." Horatio handed his stained shirt to
"We shall endeavour not to disappoint...."
"And the story..?" William prompted.
Archie took a small bottle from his pocket and poured some
contents onto a spot on the shirt. He rubbed it into the stain, and
set the shirt aside. "There. We'll let this pre-treater
sink into the fabric for a while..."
"What's that going to do?" Horatio wondered.
Kennedy smiled broadly. "It's going to sink, it's going
to treat, and it's going to get better.... And then, it's
going to get out of there..."
Hornblower groaned. "Shall we just tell the story of
El Ferrol, Mr Kennedy???"
"Of course, Mr Hornblower." Archie laughed. "Are
going to come clean, or shall I??"
"Rats!! My socks shrank!!!"
"Calm down, Horatio..." Kennedy tried to soothe his
He wanted to say, `There are more things in heaven and earth,
Horatio, than your bloody socks,' but he held his tongue. **
"But -- this isn't fair!! Why didn't this happen that
time I borrowed Mr Bracegirdle's socks?? Would have saved myself
a nasty rash from that stupid oakum...."
"Mr Hornblower, this is hardly productive..." William
Horatio drew himself up, looking embarrassed. "Of course,
sir..." he cleared his throat. "We shall carry on with the
story." He handed Kennedy another pair of dark trousers, and the
Fourth Lieutenant added them to the washbasin. Bush poured in a
capful of Tide, and Archie stirred the now lukewarm water.
"Well, sir," Archie began, "there was the time
we had to
wash our... how shall I say it?"
"Out with it boldly *** would do just fine, Mr Kennedy,"
said, with a smile.
"Underwear, sir..." Archie stated, concealing a smile.
"And pray, what is so amusing about that?" William queried.
Kennedy looked at Hornblower, and now the two of them were
verge of bursting into laughter.
"Well, sir," Horatio began, "there was Mr Hunter...."
"Yes... I have heard of him...."
"You see, there was the time Don Massaredo invited me,
officer, to do my laundry at the main house..."
"Yes?" William took his turn at stirring the washbasin.
"Hunter got jealous of all the attention Horatio was
getting," Kennedy interjected, "and the privileges -- while
we peons had to do our wash in the cell. Splintery old washboard
kept tearing our underwear...." Archie winced at the memory.
"And??" Bush was becoming impatient.
"Well, one day we were just sitting about, and His Excellency
came round and invited Horatio to yet another relaxing social evening
of laundry, this time with his guests, Colonel deVergesse and the
"It really wasn't that relaxing, Archie.... That Frog
asking Her Grace how she kept her corsets so neatly starched..."
"Gentlemen, please continue!"
"Yes, sir... of course..." Kennedy said. "Well,
this one day Hunter gets so upset he gives Horatio a nasty glare and
says, `Don't forget to bring us back a few scraps, sir...
Some fruit....' And without missing a beat, Horatio, who usually
has a REALLY lousy sense of humour, glares back at him and says,
`...of the loom???' "
William laughed out loud, his blue eyes showing his amusement.
Horatio did not look so happy.
"What do you mean, `really lousy sense of humour'???"
"Well, it's TRUE, H'ratio...." Kennedy teased.
"Is TOO! How ELSE do you explain that lame joke about
being a little bigger than the river...."
Hornblower looked stunned. "You HEARD that??"
Archie looked at his friend sideways. "We had a 40 share
night, Horatio... EVERYone heard that..."
"Well, I'm glad you found my elementary mistake so
"Come, Horatio," Archie said lightly, "we have
The rinsing was completed, and the three officers were ready
remove the clean clothes from the basin, and wring them, but the two
younger men waited for the customary command.
"Run `er out!!" Bush growled.
"Aye aye, sir!" his two juniors called out, and they
tend the dripping-wet garments. By this time, all three men were
stripped down to only their trousers and their dampened, open shirts,
with their sleeves rolled up, and they were clearly becoming
"H'ratio, what the heck are we doing here??" Kennedy
"Discipline, Archie," Hornblower replied, his tone
official. But just then his eye was caught by a persistent stain on
one of his neckcloths. "Mr Kennedy, I thought you pre-treated
Kennedy peered at the still-stained navy blue length of silk.
"I'm sorry, Horatio, but I can't treat an unreported
stain. **** Besides, you can just tie it so that part doesn't
But Hornblower was not consoled. "Archie, why do we even
bother?? His Majesty's officers must be presentable at all
"All right... I alone neglected to treat your bloody stain,
you happy now??"
"No, Mr Kennedy, I am NOT happy! There is a stain on
neckcloth, and it's been set by the hot water!"
"We're at sea, H'ratio -- we work with cannon, we get
into battles and get shot at and sliced up with swords and stuff...
How long do you think the bloody thing was going to stay clean
"That isn't the point, Lieutenant...."
"What IS the point... Lieutenant???"
"The POINT, gentlemen," Bush finally interjected,
exasperated at the younger officers' behaviour, "is that we
are at war, and when we are at war, clothes get stained!!"
Hornblower and Kennedy shut up, looking first at Bush, and
"I'm afraid I think you're right..." Kennedy finally
"Now," William continued, satisfied with himself
settled his subordinates, "I suggest we turn our attention to the
wash." He took the already-drying neckcloth from Horatio and
handed it to Archie. "Care to observe the enemy, Mr Kennedy?"
Archie inspected the stain. "I fear this is one I can
about at this point, but had I known sooner, perhaps I could have
found a way to reach it..." He shot a glance at Horatio.
"But I have no patience for an enemy that daren't show its
Hornblower glared at his friend. "Are you saying I was
"I am merely suggesting that some men choose to cast themselves
The two younger men's expressions began to show anger again,
Bush headed them off.
"Oh.. back there again, are we? Well, if you gentlemen
as you've begun, I fear that we may now see how the tree of
indiscipline bears fruit."
"Hey!!! Director Grieve!!! He's stealing my
lines!!!!!!" Horatio protested.
"Mr Hornblower, please control yourself," Bush said
firmly. "We have a problem that we must solve."
"Of course, sir... you're quite right...."
"But, Mr Bush," Archie said, "how will we remove
stain? I imagine we would have an even chance, with a pistol and
cannon to hand...."
"No, Mr Kennedy," William ignored the remark. "But
know someone we could ask..."
"And who might that be?" Horatio asked. "The
"Matthews?" Archie said.
"Dr Clive?" Hornblower asked.
Bush rolled his eyes. "Not in THIS lifetime..."
"Not Commodore Pellew...." Kennedy said, in a hushed tone.
"No, Mr Kennedy... I'm afraid we'll have to take this
tactical problem to an even higher authority...."
"Who????" his two subordinates asked, anxiously.
"Why, Midshipman Heloise, of course...." *****
*For those unacquainted.. for decades, up until about the 1970s
was a popular phenomenon in the US known as the `Tupperware
party.' This was a gathering, usually of women, at someone's
house, wherein a premium line of plasticware products for the home
was demonstrated and sold.
**[Corruption of] Hamlet, Act I, scene v
***The Merchant of Venice, Act II, scene ii
****"The unreported stain" was a catch phrase from
*****Again, for those unacquainted, in US newspapers, there
been a syndicated household advice column called Hints From Heloise,
in which people can write in, or just read the suggestions she gives,
or prints from other readers.