A Letter from Hell - Clayton's Reply
by Joan C.

Jack,

No, not dear Jack, or even Dear Mr. Simpson, for that would imply a
measure of respect that I do not possess for your person. I find it
supremely ironic that I, with my multitudinous sins, should look upon you
with pity. I would have thought that in this life, as in the last, we
should be imprisoned in the same Hell. Yet, I am here. And you are ...
elsewhere.

You killed me, Jack. With no more compunction than you would feel for an
insect squashed beneath your heel, you put a bullet in my heart and a
period to my existence. Perhaps I should be grateful that you pulled the
trigger for me when I was too much a coward to provide my own release. You
see, Jack. I was horribly afraid of damnation.

You laugh? Yes, even here I am aware of your contempt. I drank, I gambled,
I pursued condemned pleasures that would have sent me to Hell, certain
sure. But I never sought the ruin of another soul; I never destroyed the
innocence of youth. I was no saint, but I was never like you.

You wonder why you could not have Hornblowerís soul, as you did Archie
Kennedyís, as you did mine? Perhaps it was that locket he wore -- you
remember the locket, Jack. Gold, with a miniature of his mother, who you
so foully maligned. Perhaps she taught him that the weak and the innocent
had to be protected. Or his father, the good doctor, whose compassion for
the ill and wounded in body and mind, gave him the pattern for his life. I
know now, what I did not know then: No one who can truly love, can be
corrupted.

And so, Jack, Kennedy lives, and will learn that he is deserving of love.
Horatio is stronger than you and I could ever imagine; his honor may not
make him rich or give him the power over others, such as you craved. But
his men will follow him gladly, and with loyal hearts, for they know he
will never betray them. And I will go to my rest. A rest that you will
never know.

What have I done to deserve this peace, when I have been nothing but a
weak, drunken coward? I have asked that myself. And the answer was given:
"Greater love no man hath, than to lay down his life for his brother ..."
Once yours, but never again,

Clayton