The Ship of Lost Souls
by Amy


Europe 1795



The Napoleonic Wars



The Indefatigable was finally leaving Fort Devin, after spending three weeks there, Captain Pellew decided it was time to return to battle. However, the newly commissioned Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower would not be joining the Indie until after he'd completed a three-day voyage onboard the supply schooner Maria . Horatio, in command of the ship, was to sail to Fort Devin, accompanying him was his friend and fellow sailor: Matthews.



Horatio stood proudly on the poop deck of Maria, he observed the men as they loaded up supplies and animals. Matthews was the petty officer onboard any ship that Horatio commanded, "Matthews, are all the animals aboard?" Horatio asked.



"Aye sir." Matthews answered.



"Very good." Horatio said. "Prepare to make sail, and send the hands to stations for weighing anchor."



"Aye, aye sir."



A few hours later, Horatio went below deck to his cabin, to finish the last few chapters of Clarks Complete Handbook on Seamanship . As he was reading, he came across a name, it's one he was certain he's heard before. He read the sentence for the second time in his mind, "This tactic was used by the French Admiral Edward Collins -" Horatio's went back to a night when his father was telling him a story about a man named Edward Collins. And how he disappeared after his family was killed.



Suddenly Horatio is jerked back to the present by a loud boom!



He hurries out of his cabin. When he gets to the top deck, he sees that a Spanish frigate had pulled alongside them! Matthews was directing cannon fire but Horatio knew they had no chance. "Matthews, we must surrender! Hold down our colors." Horatio cried.



"Sir?" Matthews asked, surprised.



"Do it! Before it's too late!"



"Aye, sir."



Matthews hurried to relay Horatio's orders, but even after the flag had been lowered the Spaniards, to Horatio's surprise, continued firing!



They must have been shooting to kill! Some of the men were jumping overboard. Suddenly Horatio saw cannon fire heading towards him, he turned and ran, when the cannon ball struck, he jumped and flew forwards though the air! The last thing he saw was the dark cold water, then everything went silent!




CHAPTER 2






The next morning, Horatio awoke to find himself clinging to a pieace of driftwood. He looked around; there was debris everywhere. He knew the Maria must have gone down in the battle. He turned to see Matthews holding onto some driftwood, he was unconscience. Horatio reached over and put his hand on Matthews' shoulder. "Matthews!" Horatio said. But it was use he couldn't wake him up.



In the distance Horatio saw what he thought was a ship coming towards them, he couldn't quit make out the colors but it looked like they were flying a black and red flag; he wasn't quit sure what this meant. But he would rather be onboard a ship (even if the ship was an enemy's) then stay floating endlessly in the Atlantic. He waved at them and hoped they would pick them up. "Help! Over here!" He yelled.



The ship began to get bigger and bigger, Horatio knew they were coming. He could now make out the figures on her decks, very strangely he saw that some of the men were wearing English naval uniforms, others had French loyalist uniforms, he saw some were even wearing French republican uniforms. Horatio wondered what kind of a ship this was; all of these men were supposed to hate each other and yet they looked like they were getting along. Horatio saw a man on the quarterdeck; he was wearing a black boat cloak and a French loyalist captain's hat. Horatio couldn't see his face because he had his back turned.



Soon the ship was close enough for Horatio to see everything in great detail. He saw the man who he thought was captain turn around but his face was buried in the hood of his boat cloak. Horatio saw a man (he looked like the 1st lieutenant) come up to the captain, he said something, Horatio guessed, in French, he saw captain the nod and then he went to the rail and said (within Horatio's hearing), "Bring him aboard!"



A seaman came to the side and put his hand out to Horatio. "Get him first." Horatio said pointing at Matthews. "We've no time for the dead." Said one of the English lieutenants. "He's not dead!" Horatio argued. "He's just out, he need's help. Please bring him aboard first."



"Very well" said the lieutenant. Two men climbed down the boarding ladder and picked up Matthews, they dragged him up and aboard. Horatio then climbed up the ladder, when he was aboard the French captain, followed be the 1st lieutenant, came down the quarterdeck ladder to the main deck. He walked up to Horatio and cast a glance at Matthews. "Take him below." He ordered, speaking in a thick French accent. The men picked up Matthews and carried him down the companion ladder. The captain turned to Horatio, "Well monsieur." He said looking at Horatio suspiousity, "You look familiar, have I met you before?" He asked.



"No sir, I don't recall it." Horatio said.



"What is your name?" The captain asked.



"Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower of his Britannic Majesty's Frigate Indefatigable ." Horatio said.



"Hornblower, Hornblower." The captain muttered.



"And might I ask who you are, sir?"



"Edward Collins. I am this ship's captain."



"Edward Collins -" Horatio said quietly. "The French admiral?"



"Yes." Collins answered. "You know me just as I know you -"



"Sir I must correct you." Horatio interrupted. "I have never met you before my father told me stories -"



"I knew your father, the great long forgotten Admiral Hornblower!"



"My father is a doctor he never -" Horatio began.



"Your father is now a doctor but he was an admiral in the British Navy, and he was also a murder!"



"What! That is not true, sir, maybe my father was an admiral but he was not a murder!"



"No your wrong, he was, during the English raid on the city of Quebec in New France, his garrison attacked a small village outside of Quebec and they burned the house's and my wife and -" Collins' voice trailed off, Horatio new why he didn't finish the sentence.



"I have read about that, sir, and it states that those homes were burned because they were thought to be a place where Frenchman hid several weapons. So it was therefore an accident!"



Collins glared at Horatio. "Never the less that home had people in it, my innocent family! And your father was responsible for their death's!"



Horatio sighed, he couldn't believe his father would do this, and he feared what Collins had planed for him, to get his revenge. "I think, monsieur, that you should pay for what your father did!"



Collins pulled out a pistol; some of the men around them looked surprised. Horatio knew there was nothing he could do. Collins pointed the pistol at him; Horatio closed his eyes as Collins fired his shot.

CHAPTER 3



Horatio closed his eyes as Collins was about to fire when suddenly a young midshipman dashed from the crowd and knocked Collins' aim off with his hand; the pistol fired, Horatio ducked, and the shot missed him by inch's! Collins pushed the midshipman, who had saved Horatio's life, back towards the crowd, "How dare you interfere! You had no right, this is my ship and I will do as I please!" Collins roared. Horatio stood up and the young man spoke, "Please, sir." He said. "You've no right to kill this man in cold blood, I know you think vengeance is justified but, at least allow him to live for a little while longer?"



Collins sighed, "Very well" He said, and he pointed his empty gun at Horatio, "You may live, for now. Take him below."



"Aye aye, sir."



The men grabbed Horatio and dragged him towards the companion ladder. "Wait!" Horatio cried. Collins walked up to him.



"At least allow me to see my friend, the man you brought aboard." Horatio said. Collins nodded. He motioned to one of the French lieutenant's, "Take him to the sick birth." He ordered (in French). The men let go of Horatio and the lieutenant escorted him down the companionway.



A million thoughts and questions where going though Horatio's head; did his father really murder Collins' family? How long was he to have to live? Why were all these men onboard this ship under the command of a madman like Collins? The biggest question Horatio had was: who was that young man who saved him from Collins? He was not sure what the answer's to any of his questions where but, he had other things to worry about besides his curiosity. He had to see if Matthews was going to be all right.



When he got to the sick birth, the lieutenant left a seaman to stand guard at the door and left Horatio to sit with Matthews. Horatio sat down in one of the hammocks beside Matthews. He sat for a long time, until he realized how tired he was, he lay down in the hammock and closed his eyes for a moment, and then he opened them. 'No, you're not going to go to sleep!' He told himself. He lay in the hammock for at least an hour until finally he let go of his thoughts and sleep.



A few hours later Horatio awoke to the sound of someone shaking him, he opened his eyes and there standing in front of his hammock was the young midshipman who had saved his life. Horatio rubbed his eyes and sat up, he looked over at Matthews, he was still asleep. Horatio looked at the young boy. "Why?" He asked. "Why did you save me?" The boy looked puzzled, "You did not want to be saved?" He asked.



"No, no it's not that, I just - well -" Horatio stammered. "Why would a someone under the command of Edward Collins save the life of a man who he made out to be his enemy?"



The boy sighed, "You did not deserve to die at the hands of that madman, I have seen to munch death in my life, and Collins has killed so many men, I didn't want to see that again." He said. Horatio said nothing for a moment and then thought that this young midshipman could help him answer his questions, "I'm wondering, sir." Horatio said. "Why are you here? Why are any of these men here under Collins command?"



"My name is Ben Jones," The boy began. "I was a midshipman in the British Navy for three years, until I met Mary, a young women, we fell in love and I married her." Ben paused for a moment. "One day, we were walking to town when a couple of thieves jumped out of nowhere and attacked us, one of them killed her and almost killed me, they - they took her purse and jewels and ran away. Sense that day I've never forgiven myself for not protecting her, so I ran away to sea and got a job on a supply ship, then the ship was captured by Collins, me and the men were given a choice; we could serve with Collins or be killed. I picked to serve; this ship seemed like a far better place for me then anywhere else. The rest of the men on this ship are men like me, people who have lost thing's or people that are dear to them, they don't care if half the men on this ship our there enemies they just want to escape from all they know." By the time Ben had finished the story he was sobbing a little, he whipped away his tears and was silent. Horatio wanted to ask him about Collins, but little did he know that he was about to find out for himself.

CHAPTER 4

L
ater, after Ben had gone up on deck, Horatio was sitting in the hammock waiting for Matthews to wake up, when suddenly he heard the call for eight bells, and he knew had to see what was going on. He got up and walked over to the door, he was surprised to see that the guard had fallen asleep, he walked out the door. Horatio peeked out on to the deck, he saw Collins talking to one of his lieutenant's, and he could almost make out what they were saying. Horatio crept up and tried to blend into the crowd. Horatio could now hear what Collins was saying; "What are you going to do with the boy?" the lieutenant asked.



"I don't know yet." Collins answered.



"Why don't you just kill him?"



"Because, I think I should do something else before I do that."



"But, you've found so many men who you may have thought were this boy or his father. And now you finally have it and you want to let him live?"



Horatio seemed a little relieved at that but he knew that if Collins didn't want to kill him that he had something worse planned.



"I want him to be my slave for as long as remains on this ship." Collins said. "He can live hear as if he were a crew member but, he won't be treated well as they are!"



Horatio gulped at that, he'd been in a lot of horrible places but, never had he been a slave, and thinking of it gave him an awful feeling.



"You their, what are you doing? Hey, aren't you the prisoner that the capin' captured?" Horatio looked up to see an English midshipmen, "Well, come on man!" the midshipmen grabbed Horatio and took him up to the poop deck were Collins was.



"I think killing him would be better, you've let to many men suffer the slaves fate." Said the lieutenant.



"Are you questioning my actions?" Collins demanded.



"No sir, I was merely saying that -"



"Sir." the midshipmen interrupted. "What is it?" Collins asked.



"I found him snooping around." Said the midshipmen, shoving Horatio forward. Horatio gulped and said nothing.



"Well, well, well." Collins said. "I was just about to call you up on deck but, now I see that you re here."



"If you have something to say, say it." Horatio said.



"From this day on, until I decide otherwise, you are to serve me, you will do what I say when I say, do you understand?"



"Never!" Horatio said. "I would rather die!"



"Would you!" It was a statement not a question.



Collins yanked his dagger from its sheath and put it hardly to Horatio's neck! "You have no choice!" Collins said angrily.



"You won't kill me, you can't! That would keep you from making me suffer!" Horatio said, taking the chance that Collins wouldn't cut his throat.



"Oh no? Why don't we find out!" Collins said, his face seemed to turn red.



"Sir!" The lieutenant cried; he grabbed Collins and pulled him back. "If you kill him, then you won't get revenge the way you want it!"



"Take your hands off me!" Collins said. And he pulled himself free >from the lieutenant. "Take Hornblower to the brig, his duty times begin tomorrow at eight bells! And if he refuse's to serve, then I will kill his friend!"



The man dragged Horatio down the poop deck stairs. But before they could get to the companion ladder Horatio kicked the man, whirled around, grabbed a pistol >from a man's belt and shot the first man who came at him. The men surrounded Horatio!



Collins come though the crowd, he pointed his pistol at Horatio. "Stand down!" He cried.



Horatio took two steps back, and did not stand down. Suddenly he felt a cold hard blow in the back of the head; he fell weakly onto the deck! He had been hit over the head with a sword handle. The men picked him up and carried him below.

CHAPTER 5



A few hours later, Horatio awoke to find himself in the ships dark cold brig. Horatio sighed, he realized that in a few hours he would be on a hot deck holding a mop or carrying out Collins' dirty work, he had a horrible feeling about all of it, and he wished he could talk to Ben again. Horatio's thoughts began to drift away when he realized how tired he was -.



"Horatio? Mr. Hornblower, sir?" Horatio was suddenly awoken by a voice, "Matthews?" he said. But it wasn't Matthews; "It's me, Ben." The man said. Horatio gave a sigh of relief, "What are you doing here?" Horatio asked him.



"It's my turn to watch your cell." Ben said. "Oh" Horatio began. "How did I get here? All I remember is Collins telling me I have to his slave."



"You tried to escape and I hit you in the head, with my sword." Ben said.



"Why did you do it?" Horatio asked. "To keep you from getting yourself killed, Collins was going to shoot you! I had to do something."



Horatio sighed. He sat silent for a moment when suddenly it hit him! "That's it, I got it!" Horatio declared. "What?" Ben asked, "What do you have?"



"A way of escape." Horatio said. "We could rally the crew in a mutiny against Collins and his officers. What do you think?"



"Well I -" Ben began. "If we were to succeed, were would we go?"



"I was on my way to Gibraltar when I was attacked be the Spanish ship, We can sail back there." Horatio replied. Ben remained quiet for a moment, he seemed uncertain about something. "I can't." Ben said. "I can't go back to Gibraltar, I -."



"What are you talking about?" Horatio asked. "You re a British midshipmen, you'll always be wel -"



"No I won't!" Ben interrupted, "I'm not a British officer anymore Horatio, theirs something you should know; I didn't go to serve on a supply ship after my wife was killed. I went to become a pirate, the first ship I found, I wanted to escape. Then our ship was captured by Collins and most of the men didn't want to serve Collins but I did, as I told with my wife dead this ship seemed as good a place as any for me."



Horatio seem a little shocked. "Why did you lie to me?" He demanded.



"Because I knew from the first time I saw you that you were loyal to them , loyal to the King." Ben said.



"What does that have to do with anything?" Horatio asked. "I can't go back their because, I'm wanted for a large amount of money. And if I go back there, then they'll hang me or worse." Horatio sighed.



"Ben I'm sorry your life went different then mine but, I need your help, these men know you and they'd listen to you. You have to help me, that man is insane and he's trying to kill me. I've got to do something about that. Even if it's without you!"



"The men won't listen to you, they don't see you as anything more then a man who's loyal to the king."



"We'll see." Horatio said.



Silence fell for a moment and then it was shattered by the sound of bells, the call for eight bells. 'His duty time's begin tomorrow at eight bells -' Collins' voice rang in Horatio's head; it was time for slave life to begin, he only hoped it would be short and he would be able to convince the men to help him.



Two men came down and opened Horatio's cell door, they grabbed him and pushed up the companion ladder. Ben sat next to the open cell door for a moment, he seemed a little uncertain; he had a friendship in Horatio and he didn't want him to die but, on the other hand he didn't want to die either.



He only hoped that he made the right choice.



CHAPTER 6


When the men brought Horatio up on deck, he saw that two of the mast's had sails that were loose, some men were up on one fixing the sail. The two men shoved Horatio up to the quarterdeck; Collins was their taking measurements with his sexton. "Good morrow Hornblower." He said not even bothering to turn around, "I've got just the job for you; climb to the top of that mast and secure the loose sail." Collins pointed to one of the masts; it had a loose topsail that was at the very top of it. The rigging looked like it needed to be retied. Horatio knew that nobody would be able to climb that.



He shook his head, "Why would you sent be to the top of that bloody mast? By sending me up there your risking my death!" Horatio said. "Because." Collins said. "That what slaves are for, the rest of my men are two valuable to me. I expect you to follow orders unless of coarse you don't care if your friend lives. I don't think that you have a choice." Horatio looked at the mast; he was uncertain, he didn't want Matthews to die. Horatio signed. "Alright." He said. The men let Horatio go and he walked down the quarterdeck ladder and he walked towards the mast, when he got there; he looked up; the mast itself seemed ok but the rigging was in need fixing. He knew that sail had to cut loose and it would be very hard to try and retie it but he also knew that this ship was in desperate need of supplies and they probably had no more extra sails. Horatio hoisted himself up into the rigging; he began to climb. When he looked around he could see that mostly everyone had stopped working to watch him climb a mast, and Horatio knew that this would make it even harder for him to finish for if he made one wrong move then he would be dead.



Horatio was halfway up to the top; he stepped into the next foot rope with his right foot and suddenly the rope broke from underneath him! He lost his footing and found himself holing on for dear life! When Horatio looked down at his onlookers, he saw that Collins and the officers found it amusing that he was holding on for dear life. Horatio regained his footing and continued to climb.



Finally he reached the top; he stepped onto the tapsill tree. Horatio grabbed the sail and pulled it back. In his first attempt to retie it, he lost host his grip on the sail and it flew back out into the air. After three tries he finally got the sail tied on. Horatio gave a sigh of relief; he was finally finished but it wasn't over yet he still had to get to the bottom. He took a moment to catch his breath when suddenly a big wave hit the ship and he lost his grip!



Horatio fell al least two feet before he regained control of himself. He reached out and grabbed the first rope that he could. He was now holding on for all he could! Collins and his officers were now laughing even harder then before, they seemed to find it funny that this man could die! Horatio steadied himself, he grabbed another rope and regained his footing. The laughter was now beginning to stop, Horatio had was at the bottom finally, he had done it!



When he was safely on the ship's deck Ben walked up to him. "Well done." He said. Horatio nodded and walked slowly past Ben. "Horatio!" Ben called after him. Horatio turned around. "Mr. Jones! Return to your work!" Collins roared. Ben signed; he walked over and continued working. A lieutenant came over and took Horatio back to the quarterdeck.



Collins turned to face him. "Well, Hornblower, I fancy that if you had of gotten yourself killed up there then the men would have enjoyed it." Collins said. "But you wouldn't have!" Horatio said. "Find Hornblower some work to do." Collins ordered. The lieutenants took Horatio down to the main deck they handed him a mop and ordered him to start working.



For the rest of the day, Horatio stood in the hot sun moping the deck. He wondered how he would be able to make the men understand how much he needed their help. Horatio wished Matthews was awake, he couldn't think of anyone else (besides Captain Pellew) who could get him out of a mess like this one.

CHAPTER 7


Horatio sat up in his cell, he couldn t get any sleep and he knew that dinner would be served soon. He tried to sleep again but his head was throbbing with questions and thoughts, suddenly the cell door was opened and two men pushed Matthews inside. Horatio stood up Matthews squinted at him. "Mr. Hornblower?" he asked. "Yes it s me." Horatio answered. "Are you all right?"



"Yes, sir, I think so but where are we?" Matthews asked, puzzled.



Horatio then related the whole story of Collins and how they were picked up, he told him about Ben and how Collins wanted him dead.



"How do you intend to get out of here, sir?" Matthews wondered. "A mutiny." Horatio whispered, hoping the guard outside had not heard him. "We will insight the crew into a mutiny against Collins."



Matthews seemed a little surprised to hear this (since he knew that Horatio didn't know the first thing about a mutiny), "What of Mr. Ben Jones, sir? Aren't you afraid that he might tell Collins your plan?" Matthews whispered.



Horatio didn't answer he was uncertain what he would do if Ben told Collins about the mutiny; he only hoped it wouldn't come to that.



A few moments later, two men came in, one was an officer and other a seamen. The seamen exchanged places with the one guarding the cell and the officer opened the door, he motioned for Horatio to come with him. When Matthews tried to follow the officer stopped him. "They should bring you some food." Horatio told him. Then the seamen closed the cell door and took Horatio to the ship's galley.



Horatio found a table all to himself. He helped himself to the food that the cook gave him, while trying to figure out what he was going to say to the crew when he got the chance, Ben came over to his table and sat down. "Hello Horatio." He said in a quiet voice. A moment of silence fell and then it was broken "Aren't you supposed to be dinning in the midshipmen birth?"



Horatio asked, not even bothering to look up from his food. "Horatio," Ben began, "I'm sorry. I should have told you the truth, and now I must beg you to reconsider your plan. If we--"



"For what!" Horatio interrupted him, "So Collins can kill me in cold blood and make others suffer! I have to at least try to save myself and these men."



Ben was silent for a moment, he seemed a little unsure about what to say next.



"And what about me and those onboard this ship who are not English, who are pirates and Frenchmen?"



"They will not condemn you without a trial. And most of the Frenchmen are loyalists and they have committed no crime, and the pirates, well they -"



Horatio trailed off, he was not sure. "You don't know, do you?" Ben said. "All your thinking of is the bloody Englishmen! Well I don't think that I want to be apart of this anymore!" Ben stood up and began to walk away.



"Ben, wait!" Horatio called after him. Ben turned and looked at Horatio.



"Promise me that you won't tell Collins and when we reach Gibraltar, then I will speak for you at your trial." Horatio said. "Guilty or not I will be found guilty." Ben said and he walked back toward Horatio. "And yes, I give you my word that I will not tell Collins anything." Ben turned and walked off.



Horatio finished what he was eating. A little while later, most of the men had finished their dinner and Horatio saw this as a good opportunity to talk to the men. He stood up and walked to the center of the small room, "Listen--" He began, trying to sound like he knew what he was going to say. "I um would like to ask you men something; I know that most of you are here because you ve lost something or someone that you love." By now most of the room was listening, Horatio continued. "But, Edward Collins doesn t, um, doesn t care about any of you, he s just using you to run this ship and go on his mad quests for vengeance!" Horatio paused for a moment trying to figure out what to say next. "I know that most of you don t have homes or lives, but Collins will never let you leave this ship alive.



"He wants to kill me in cold blood for some bloody crime my father may have committed. I don t deserve that and you don t deserve to be killed for not following him."



One of the sailors stood up. "Your right but, what did you have in mind?" The man asked.



"A mutiny." Horatio said lowering his voice a little. A few of the crewmen looked very surprised, others murmured to their fellow seamen.



"We can take the ship and sail to nearest English outpost." Horatio said calmly. Another man stood up, "What about those of us who are not English?" He spoke in a thick French accent.



"Most of you are English and the rest are French loyalists, you are allied with England," Horatio said. "But, you ve been here for so long that things have changed and wars have come and gone." The room fell silent for a few moments, Horatio was unsure if he had convinced them and his gut told him that Ben may have not been truthful about telling Collins everything.



A seaman finally broke the silence when he said, "He s right lads, I may have lost my wife to war but there are still things that I miss at home."



A few murmurs and cheers followed his little speech. Horatio let out a sigh of relief, he had succeeded and in a few hours he may perhaps be heading towards Gibraltar to meet Captain Pellew and his friends onboard the Indefatigable .



A few hours later when night had fallen, the men gathered secretly in the galley to hand out weapons and formulate a strategy. Horatio picked up two loaded pistols and stuffed them into his belt; he then picked up the gold plated sword, which was taken from when he came aboard. The gold on it was a little rusted from being underwater and the scabbard was not in very good shape. Horatio picked up the sword and looked at his reflection in it, his friend Archie Kennedy had been teaching him how to use a sword but be still had much to learn and was not very good at it. Horatio put the sword safely in the scabbard. He took a deep breath and the thought of Ben once again invaded his thoughts. He knew for certain that if Ben had told Collins of his plan then all would be lost. A part of him found it hard to believe Ben s word and in a few hours he would know.


CHAPTER 8



It was now deeply into the night, the men were asleep and Horatio and Matthews were resting in the cell. Soon the morning would come and with it the call for eight bells and that was when the attack would begin. The morning came very quickly, Horatio awoke at the sound of eight bells, and Matthews was already awake. The seamen by cell door took up the keys and opened the door, next to him another seamen and behind that seamen were several others all members of Horatio's mutiny. One of the seamen handed Matthews and Horatio a sword and the other gave them each three pistols.



A few words were passed among the seamen and then Horatio held his sword high and charged onto the deck followed by all of the seamen. They stopped short, surprise and confusion flew into their eyes; for their standing on the deck in front of them were Collins and every officer aboard, armed pistols, and muskets and swords were in their hands. Horatio's eyes widened when he saw that Ben Jones was standing right next to Collins!



"You lied!" Horatio cried, pointing his sword at Ben. "I'm sorry, Horatio," Ben said. "I had no other choice."



Collins stepped forward; "Well Monsieur Hornblower, it appears I underestimated you," he said. "I should have killed you from the beginning and I would have had I known you would cause me this much trouble."



Horatio shook his head, "I don't think you would have killed me monsieur, then you would have to forgo the pleasure of causing my discomfort and I don't think you could do that." He said. Collins smiled at him, "You are correct." He said. "But I have had enough of your discomfort and I think that we should end this now."



Collins drew his sword and an officer pushed Horatio on his knees. "I hope you believe in the afterlife." Collins said as he thrust his sword back preparing to make the final blow. Suddenly Ben leaped from the crowd, "No!!" He cried. Collins dropped the sword just as Ben leaped in front of it. The sword dropped into his chest and he fell to the deck, Collins pulled it free and took two steps backward, sweet running down his face. Horatio caught his breath just in time to see Ben close his eyes. Horatio stood up; the world seemed to pause for a moment. Horatio couldn't believe what had just happed; this lying pirate had just scarified himself so he could save another life. Everything was put back to motion again when Matthews grabbed his pistol and shot the officer nearest him and that was when it began; the battle between Collins and his men Horatio and the crew.



Horatio moved quickly he used his three pistols in a hurry and took his sword. Suddenly Collins cam up behind him and raised his sword, Matthews saw it and yelled, "Mr. Hornblower, look out!" Horatio whirled around just in time to block Collins' blow with his sword. Collins pushed Horatio backward. "I will have my justice!" Collins cried. He swung his sword at Horatio; Horatio ducked. Then Collins and Horatio parried their blades back and fourth, they moved until they were almost at to the ships starboard side.



Matthews and the other seamen tied up the officers who were still alive.



Collins swung at Horatio's feet, Horatio jumped and dodged the sword, and then he kicked Collins causing him to stagger backwards. Horatio placed his sword in its scabbard and began to climb to the mainmast. Collins steadied himself and followed Horatio up the mast.



When Horatio reached the first topsail yard he held onto a rope to keep from falling and in his other hand he held his sword. When Collins finally reached the yard, he steadied himself and drew his sword. Collins narrowed his eyes at Horatio and he swung his sword, Horatio parried the blow, Collins hit Horatio's sword so hard that he nearly lost his grip on it! Collins took the advantage; he stabbed Horatio in the shoulder, of the arm he was using to hold the ropes.



Horatio lost his grip on the rope and slipped, he fell and quickly grabbed the yard with his arm, he held his sword by his wounded arm. Collins turned toward him, smiling, he said, "May God have mercy on your soul!" Collins pushed his onto Horatio's hand. Horatio felt the pain and his hand began to slip, and then he lost his grip.



Horatio fell, and in one moment he saw his life flash before his eyes, without knowing he was doing; he reached over and grabbed the nearest hanging rope with one hand, then he put his sword in his scabbard and held on with both hands. He swung over to the nearest topsail tree and gave a sigh of relief; he clutched his wounded shoulder and panted deeply. But it wasn't over yet, Collins was coming back, he took the nearest rope and swung over to the topsail tree just above the one Haratio was on, he then climbed down the mast.



Horatio wiped the sweet from his forehead and jumped off the topsail tree onto the yardarm, he grabbed the nearest rope to help keep his balance. By now Collins had reached the topsail tree, he jumped down onto the yardarm, "What does it take to be rid of you?" Collins screamed angrily. Horatio didn't answer the foolish question. Instead he swung his sword at Collins and Collins parried it, it went up and down for a while until Horatio managed to trip Collins and knocking him into a sitting position on the yard, Horatio knocked Collins sword >from his hands, he then pointed his sword at Collins.



"Well, do it!" Collins said. "Kill me, I deserve it don't I?"



Horatio shook his head, "You must pay for everyone you've killed and you will, but not by my hand." He said. He helped Collins up and brought him down to the deck. The men put him in the brig and Horatio ordered that they set sail for Gibraltar.



The next day when they arrived; Collins was trailed for murder and found guilty and a very confused Captain Pellew ordered to see Horatio in his cabin. "Well Mr. Hornblower? Where were you this time." Pellew asked.



"I regret to inform you sir that the supplies were and so was the Maria , we were attacked by the Spanish." Horatio told Captain Pellew the whole story about Collins and his Ship of Lost Souls. When he was done the Captain told him that was not to be punished for loosing the cargo because he helped to bring down a murder that had taken many English ships down.



And so once again Horatio became a hero in the British Navy.

The end