"Life of Duty: de Vergesse and Don Masserado"
For awhile, Etienne de Vergesse paced edgily around his rooms. Finally,
he called for Gerard.
"Bring me Trebuchet. He was in charge of my signal tower when the raid
occurred. I need to speak with him."
"Oui, Colonel, I will have him summoned."
In the intervening time, Etienne read and reread the article on the raid.
He was sitting lost in thought when he was startled by a knock on the door.
"Enter!" he called out.
"You wanted to speak with me, Colonel..."
"Oui. You were in command of my signal tower when it was destroyed
by the English dogs."
"Sir?" Trebuchet prompted.
"There is one Englishman I am interested in. He was an officer, slightly
taller than I, with light brown curly hair, and hazel eyes. He was in command
of the Englishman. He died at the conclusion of the raid." Etienne
"I believe I know the officer you mean, sir, but he was killed during
the landing. Later, some men came back and retrieved his body." Trebuchet
answered after a moment of reflection.
"He was killed during the landing?! Well, if he was already dead, then
WHO completed the total destruction of my tower?!?" Etienne growled.
For a few moments, the man remained silent. He looked up and said, "There
was another officer, sir. He was a stocky blonde man, and the officer who
retrieved the body. He was injured during the retrieval. I shot him myself."
he finished with satisfaction.
"A stocky blonde man...." Etienne pondered aloud before continuing,
Trebuchet quickly saluted and exited the room with a sigh of relief.
Etienne went back to the GAZETTE, and searched it for the names of the officer's
involved. As he read, one name leapt out at him - Acting Leftenant Archie
Kennedy. For some reason, Etienne thought that name sounded familiar. He
quickly scribbled a note to his old friend Don Masserado in Spain.
"My dear friend,
I require your assistance with a mystery. Do you remember a certain young
English Naval officer by the name of Horatio Hornblower?
He was recently killed in raid on a signal tower of mine. The mystery is
who completed the mission. Mr. Hornblower was dead nearly as soon as they
landed. I am curious to know about his crew and any other English officers
who were held in your prison at the same time as he was. By any chance was
there an officer named Kennedy? If so, what did he look like?
I look forward to your response. If you have time, I would be happy to host
you on a visit.
Etienne de Vergesse"
***************************************************** IN SPAIN...
Don Masserado sat in his study, de Vergesse's missive hanging limply from
his hand. Irresistibly, his thoughts were drawn back to those days when
Horatio was his prisoner, and how he had come to respect him.
"Dead. He's dead." the thought swirled through his mind. "He
was a young man with so much potential..." he looked back at the note.
"Kennedy, the other young officer, not as much potential, but very
skilled in failed escape attempts. What a waste, Hornblower dead, and Kennedy
Tiredly, he headed out to the prison compound. He found himself in the courtyard
staring down at the oubliette, and remembering how it felt to place his
favorite in it. The conversation when he'd insisted Horatio tell him who
the REAL instigators were, and Kennedy advising his friend to tell. His
own words came back to him, "Mr. Kennedy is a friend, is he not, Mr.
Hornblower? He will tell you I am not afraid to be cruel."
"I must write to Etienne and tell him about Mr. Kennedy." he thought
with a sigh. His shoulders were slumped as he headed back to his study.
Once there, he stood in the exact place where Horatio had been when he'd
given him the copy of "Don Quixote" - again his words haunted
him. "She felt you should learn my language.... It is the story of
a man who jousts with windmills. Her Grace thought you would understand
"All of our days are darker now." he muttered after sinking down
into his chair. With a heavy heart, he wrote his response to Etienne...
Thank you for your kind offer of hospitality, but I must decline.
As for the rest of your note, yes, there was an officer here named Kennedy.
He and Mr. Hornblower were friends, but apart from attempting to escape,
I saw little promise in him. He was very easily led, and gave up with very
little fight - after some time in the hole.
Mr. Kennedy was a stocky man with blonde hair and blue eyes, if I remember
correctly. The remainder of Mr. Hornblower's men were followers.
From the time they spent here, I don't believe any of them could have completed
the mission with Mr. Hornblower cut down. Are you positive your information
I look forward to your next visit here, and I will see you when I am next
With a heavy heart, Don Masserado addressed the envelope, and sent it back
to Etienne. He instructed his men to leave him, and sat in his study remembering
the remarkable young man who had made such an impression on him.