by Lady Laura

Phantom Ship

" Mary!" Mary blinked, consciousness returning to her. She looked up and saw Horatio and Archie looking at her uncertainly.

" What happened, Horatio?" Mary asked him.

" Do you remember that fight at the inn?" he sat down. Archie stood by Mary's side.

" No, I don't." she winced, feeling a jolt of pain surge through her. She saw a bandage on her left breast, then looked at Horatio and Archie questioningly.

" As we were coming back to the ship, one of the men involved in the fight took a wild shot, and hit you. Dr. Johnson said it was a lucky miss. It just missed your heart."

" How long have I been out?"

" About 2 days." Archie answered.

" 2 days?"

" Yes. Dr. Johnson underestimated the amount of sedative he had given you."

" Everyone's been asking about you, Mary. Especially the captain." Horatio mentioned.

" Good old Edward? What did he want?" Mary teased, the familiar mischevous glint in her eyes had returned. Archie and Horatio smiled.

" He was especially concerned for your recovery. That bullet almost killed you." Archie informed her.

" Go tell Edward that I am well again." she told Archie.

" Aye aye, miss." Archie mocked her, going to inform the captain as she had asked.

" Ms. Driskell, I'm glad to see you're awake." Dr. Johnson's pleasant voice drifted to her from the other side of the sick berth.

" Thank you, Dr. Johnson." Mary smiled.

" Horatio, go and talk with Archie while I am being examined."

" I'll come by later." Horatio left the sick berth, nearly giddy with relief. Dr. Johnson had told Horatio that if Mary didn't awaken that day, she likely had some sort of infection.

As he climbed up the stairs, Horatio wondered about the bond between Mary and Captain Pellew. He seemed quite fond of her, and spoke of her affectionately.

Horatio would have to remember to ask Mary about her friendship with Pellew. He got up on the forecastle deck, then went to the railing, watching the stars make their trek across the sky, wondering what adventures the new day would promise them. Horatio sighed, then left to go find Archie.
Archie knocked on the door of the captain's room.

" Come in." Pellew said. Archie came in, hoping he was not disturbing the captain.

" Sorry to interrupt sir, but Mary is awake now. Dr. Johnson says there is no sign of infection, and she should be up by tomorrow."

" I'm very glad to hear that." Pellew stated, trying to mask his worry. Archie had keenly caught on.

" What's wrong sir, if I may ask?" to Archie's surprise, Pellew did not snap at him, just put down his book and sighed.

" Come and talk with me, Archie." Archie sat down next to the captain, wondering what was on the captain's mind.

" As you know, we are nearing port in England, and that is where Mary will disembark."

" Yes, sir. I will miss her like crazy."

" I will, too. She has a liveliness that has made all of us more open to each other. I also wonder if she'll be all right when we leave port."

" She will be fine, sir. That I know for a fact."

" Yes, but there are warrants out for her arrest." Archie blinked in surprise.

" What? What did she do?"

" Appearently, there's a false rumor around that she killed her mother so she could take over her mother's estate."

" When did this happen?"

" About two weeks ago."

" Impossible! She was with us!"

" Yes, Mr. Kennedy. As her friend, I must insist on her staying here."

" That shouldn't be hard, sir. She likes the adventures we have out here on the ocean." Archie stood up.

" With all do respect sir, you should be the one telling her this. Come, let's go and see her." Archie and Pellew walked down to the sick berth.
Horatio was at Mary's side, after his walking around the deck, which gave him some time to think. Mary had to stay in the sick berth for another night, and that was it. He sighed, watching Mary sleep. She was a real individual, and Horatio had never met a lady like her before. Mary was very different from all the other ladies he had met, the other ladies whom had no desire for adventure as Mary had. Mary once told Horatio that she thrived on adventure, she came alive and active during it, and enjoyed it while it lasted.

He knew it was true, Horatio had seen Mary in a sea battle, helping him and Archie. Even though she was terrified, all he saw on her face was the expression of excitement.

Mary was sleeping soundly, rebuilding her strength. Horatio shuddered as he remembered the way that drunk had shot her, and the next thing he knew, Mary was lying in her own blood.

Now, Mary was safe and sound. Horatio drifted off in his chair, he'd been unable to sleep since Mary had got hurt. The little sleep he had was plagued with nightmares.

Archie and Captain Pellew came into the sick berth 20 minutes after Horatio had dozed off. Dr. Johnson came to them.

" How is she, doctor?"

" She's well, sir, and sleeping soundly. As is Mr. Hornblower, I believe." Dr. Johnson smiled, and they saw Horatio, dozing beside Mary, whom was deeply asleep.

" It seems to be a sleep berth instead of a sick berth, Dr. Johnson." Archie grinned as the doctor chuckled. Even Pellew grinned at Archie's joke.

Pellew and Archie went to Mary's side. Pellew looked at Horatio, and with Archie's help, they gently shook him awake.

" I need to talk to you and Mary." Pellew told him. Horatio acknowledged this sleepily as Pellew looked at Mary, who was still sleeping, despite the noise.

Pellew hated to wake her up from her sleep, she needed it after she had been shot, but he needed to warn her about the warrants that were out against her.

" Mary, wake up." he shook her gently.

" Hmmmm?" she said, then opened her eyes.

" Edward! This is a unexpected pleasure." she recovered quickly from the slight shock that Pellew was there.

" Mary, I have to talk to you right away. Can you come to my cabin?"

" Sure I can." Mary got up, and looked at the old nightshirt she was dressed in.

" Yuck! Can I change quickly, then meet you?" she asked, turning red.

" Yes. Hurry now." Pellew watched Mary dash past him, and out the door.
" That's more like it." Mary said, pulling up her hair, and pinning it to her head. She had changed into a light blue sprigged calico dress, and high heeled shoes.

" There, I am presentable now." she went to the captain's cabin.

" Edward, I'm here." she announced. All three gentlemen looked up at her

" I'd say your appearance is much better." Horatio teased her. Mary sat down between Archie and Horatio as Pellew started.

" Mary, there are warrants out against you. Your two sisters have claimed you have murdered your mother just so you could have her estate." Pellew said, giving it to her all at once, blunt and straight to the point.

If Horatio and Archie had expected Mary to be shocked and angry, then those expectations were dashed. Mary simply grinned, and said, " Is that all?"

Pellew, Archie and Horatio seemed a bit taken aback by her attitude. Mary looked at the three gaping faces, and thought she should clarify what she had said.

" My two sisters, Sarah and Jessie want everything to themselves. They are the worst, they blame me for everything. I thought I could go home to Mother's wake without problems, but that's impossible." she explained darkly.

" Precisely. I would like you to stay on board, Mary. You have become like family to the Indy."

" I would be honored, Edward. After all you and I have been through, I would never want to be separated from you again." Mary let Pellew take her hand.

" No matter what happens, we will be here for you." Pellew vowed.

" I'm very fortunate to have friends like you." Mary said softly.

" Yes, only don't go off and get hurt again if you can help it. Is that understood?" Pellew told her.

" Aye aye, sir." Mary got up, Archie trailing her. Horatio hung back.

" Sir?"

" What is it, Mr. Hornblower?"

" How is it that you and Mary came to know each other?"

Pellew did not answer for a long moment. " A few years ago, I was on leave from here, and I stumbled across her family. I knew her mother well, and her father was a yachtsman who would take his family on holiday aboard their yacht. Mary's mother told me her daughter was sick, and I helped her nurse Mary back to health again. That's how we met, and it appears each time I see her, I feel like I am seeing her for the first time."

" She's quite a lady." Horatio remarked. Pellew gave him a look.

" Back to work, Lieutanant."

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio left.
Mary was in her cabin, asleep after talking to Archie. She had felt sleepy, and Archie had insisted she go to sleep while he took watch. Mary was too sleepy to object, she had let him help her to bed.

She dreamed.

Mary was in a hospital room, she could see herself lying motionless. Around her body were Pellew, Archie and Horatio.

God, I'm out of my body. She realized. I'm nothing but a translucent spirit.

She went closer to her body, then stood beside it, looking at her three friends.

Horatio and Archie looked very vulnerable, Horatio was holding Mary's left hand while Pellew held the other. Both lieutanants were crying openly, Pellew was more reserved, occasionally letting a tear streak down his face. He bowed his head, and prayed for Mary.

" Live, Mary!" he whispered after Horatio and Archie had gone.

" You've got alot to live for, and I'll never be the same if you die." in response, Mary's hand grew colder in his, and he shuddered.

" Don't make me say good-bye." Pellew's voice broke.

Mary had enough of making her friends cry for her. She slipped back into her body, and took a few minutes trying to wake up.

" God, you're practically dead already, Mary. Don't die. Don't leave us." Pellew turned his head away from the sight of Mary's limp body. He took Mary's hand up again. Mary felt it, and squeezed it right back. Pellew's head jerked up in surprise.

Horatio and Archie walked in then. Pellew said he thought Mary was alive.

" What?!" Horatio and Archie watched Mary closely. She was showing signs of waking, but she wasn't yet awake. The men encouraged her to wake up, and she slowly stirred beneath Pellew's hand.

" Edward, . . Horatio, . Archie." she said, her eyes not yet open.

" Can you hear us, Mary?" Archie asked eagerly, and got no response. Pellew checked Mary's pulse. It was there, stronger now.

" I don't believe she's going to die." he told the two officers. Mary opened her eyes.

" Horatio, Archie, Edward." she said. Horatio and Archie each told her how much they had prayed for her, and left.

" I'm glad you're alive, Mary." Pellew said after Mary had fallen into a deep healing sleep.

" Me too, Edward." Mary grinned faintly.

" Mary, time to wake up. There are two French corvettes that need attacking." Horatio said. Mary blinked and sat up. Pellew was in the doorframe, looking worried.

" She's all right, Lieutanant?"

" Very, sir." Horatio and Pellew left.
The French ships waged battle on the Indy. Mary was in the thick of it, helping Archie with his gun crews, and helping Horatio with the captain's orders. She was going up the stairs to the bridge area of the ship, when there was a big explosion near her. She stumbled and cried out. Two strong hands gripped her as she was falling, and helped her up.

" Are you all right, Mary?" asked Pellew. Mary faced him.

" I'm fine, Edward. Thank you." she dashed off. A cannon blow demasted the main sail, and Pellew ordered to sink those two ships as soon as possible.

After awhile, the French ships were diminishing rapidly. Mary saw Archie belowdecks, working on the gun crews. Horatio was abovedecks, tending to the guns up there when Mary joined him.

" They're giving up!" Horatio yelled when the two battered ships receded, and left.

Archie joined them on the deck, his face was bloody and powder stained, but he was beaming happily. Mary hugged him, and they shouted victory yells. Horatio realized that Pellew should have admonished them, but he was nowhere to be seen.

" Where's Pellew?" he asked, dashing to the bridge. Mary and Archie followed him, searching for their captain.

" Oh my god! Horatio, look!" Archie cried out, kneeling down beside something.

Mary rushed up to Archie's side, and gasped. Horatio appeared.

" My god. . " he trailed off wordlessly.

Pellew was lying half under the sailmast, his face covered with blood, senseless.

" Quick! Go get Dr. Johnson!" Horatio told Archie. He complied, Mary and Horatio hoisted up the sailmast, freeing Pellew. They checked his pulse, and determined he was alive. Dr. Johnson appeared with Archie.

" He's broken his right arm, and might have a concussion from the sailmast." the doctor reported, patching him up.

Pellew woke up a bit.

" Sir?" Horatio asked.

" You're in charge of the ship, Lieutenant, until I am well again." Pellew faded.

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio helped bring Pellew into sick berth, where Dr. Johnson could perform the necessary tasks to help Pellew.
Dr. Johnson had his hands full with the wounded men from the attack, so Mary helped him out. He set Pellew's arm, and examined him, looking for a possible concussion.

" There's no evidence of a concussion, Dr. Johnson." Mary reported.

" Even so, we need to keep him here for a few days." just then Pellew woke up.

" Edward, you're all right." Mary said, hoping to comfort him.

" Mary?" he whispered.

" Yes. I'm here." she took his hand.

" Where is Hornblower?"

" He's getting the ship repaired. We should be in a English port within a few days."

" Have him drink this, Ms. Driskell." Dr. Johnson handed her a small bottle.

" Take this, Edward." she told him. He had no strength to resist, so he did.

" You can call me Mary, Dr. Johnson." she smiled at him.

" Very well, Mary. Go and tell Mr. Hornblower that Captain Pellew has awakened briefly. He will be glad to hear it."

" Aye, Dr. Johnson." Mary left. Pellew had been listening, and he beckoned Dr. Johnson closer.

" What is it, sir?" Dr. Johnson asked, surprised that the laudanum had not taken affect yet.

" Tell Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Hornblower to keep a close eye on Mary. She's a rare soul. I've seen her near death already, and I do not wish to see it again." Pellew closed his eyes.

" I will, sir. Now go to sleep." Dr. Johnson got up and went to his desk.

Pellew was drifting off as the doctor left. Lately, he seemed obsessed with Mary and her safety. He thought about it, and decided he was worrying too much as he fell fast asleep.
Archie walked the gun deck of the Indy, and made sure the gun crews were cleaning the cannons properly. He supervised until the jobs were done.

He walked up to the bridge where Horatio was, giving orders to get to England as soon as possible. Horatio turned around, and was surprised when Archie was there.

" Damnit Archie! You scared me!" Horatio cried out.

" Well, wouldn't be the first time." Archie grinned. Just then, Mary came up to the bridge.

" How's the captain?" Horatio asked.

" He's just fine, Horatio. He's sleeping now, and he'll be unable to command this ship for at least three days. " she answered.

" That's good. Is the gun deck cleaned up, Archie?"

" Yes it is, Horatio."

" Great. We're setting course for England, and it'll be soon." Horatio glanced out over the horizon to the setting sun in the distance.

" Come, Mr. Hornblower. You have work to do." Mary took his right arm, and Archie's left arm. They walked the ship, and found everything was in order.

" I'm going to see the captain." Horatio went to the sick berth, where Pellew was, sleeping. He woke up when Horatio approached.

" Report, Mr. Hornblower." he said.

" All's well on the ship, sir."

" Good." Pellew relaxed.

" Dr. Johnson, when is he going to be able to get to his own quarters?"

" If he's alert enough, he can go now." the doctor's voice drifted back to Horatio.

" Right." Horatio assisted Pellew back to his cabin. Mary came in as Pellew got situated in his bed.

" You're looking better, Edward. You don't want me to play nurse to you, right?"

" No, I'll be fine." his eyelids drooped.

" I think so, too. Now, go to sleep. Archie, Horatio and I will be periodically checking on you during the night. Good night, Edward." Mary pulled his blanket over him, and left.

" Take good care of her." Pellew told Horatio.

" I will, sir." Horatio left.
Archie and Mary reclined on their beds, exhausted after a day of helping Horatio captain the ship.

" Well, it's been a long day." Archie said finally.

" Yes. Go to sleep, Archie. You look beat." Mary answered.

" I can't sleep."

" I didn't know you were a insomniac." Mary went to Archie's side.

" I am." Archie turned to face her.

" Do you want some laudanum?"

" No! That stuff gives me nightmares."

" Perhaps. Maybe it's the thoughts you are thinking of when you take it."

" Might be." Archie admitted, looking into Mary's brown eyes.

" Come, let me help you sleep." Mary set Archie's upper body up so she was holding him.

" Maybe you'll feel better if someone was with you." she comforted him.

" You're a godsend to this ship, Mary." Archie said, already drowsy.

" Thank you, Archie." Mary smiled. She waited until Archie was sleepy enough, then slipped out the cabin, checking on Horatio and Captain Pellew.

" Horatio! What are you still doing up? It's 2 A.M.!" she exclaimed softly, remembering that Pellew was asleep.

Horatio looked ready to fall over. " I'm going through some paperwork Captain Pellew did not see already."

" Well, I'd say it's time for you to sleep. Worry about that another time." Mary took Horatio's arm, and guided him to their cabin. Archie was sound asleep, and as soon as Horatio's head his the pillow, he was out flat in under two minutes.

" Time for me to sleep." Mary commented, watching him.
After a hour of trying to sleep, Mary gave up, and went for a stroll on the forecastle deck. She watched the stars above, lost in her own world. Mary leaned against the bow sailmast, looking upwards as she did.

At the same time, Archie woke up as the watch bell chimed. He did not have the watch, but saw Mary's bed empty, and went to look for her.

He found her on the forecastle deck, and did not disturb her, watching her watch the stars.

" It is a clear night, isn't it, Archie?" said a voice beside him. He nearly jumped out of his skin.

" Dr. Johnson!" he said in a exclaimed whisper.

" Did I startle you?"

" No!" Archie lied. He gestured towards Mary.

" How is it one lady can mean so much to this ship? It's like she has cast a spell over us."

" Well, all the crew has accepted her since she came. They have regarded her as one of their own. Captain Pellew told me to tell you and Horatio to keep a close eye on her."

" She's very special."

" Yes she is. What are you two doing up at this hour? It's 3:15 A.M. Go to bed." Dr. Johnson gently scolded.

" Aye sir." Archie went up to Mary.

" Mary?" Mary yelped.

" Archie! You scared the shit out of me!" she exclaimed.

" Sorry." Archie put his cloak on her shoulders.

" I don't like the way the wind is tonight, Archie. Something bad's gonna happen tomorrow."

" You sense this just because the wind has changed? You're rambling because you've been sleep deprived. Come to bed." Archie guided her back into the ship.

" All right, Archie." Mary handed his cloak back to him. He took it and hung it up.

" Come on, Mary. You'll be a zombie tomorrow if you don't sleep. I should know." Archie smiled ruefully. Mary got into bed, and lay down, but her eyes were still open.

" Let me do what you did for me." Archie propped her up, then stroked Mary's hair, knowing that she felt more safe with someone she knew and trusted holding her until she fell asleep.

It worked. After ten minutes of sitting with Mary, and speaking to her in a soft tone of voice, Mary finally dozed off. Archie carefully got into his own bunk, and watched Mary for a moment, then his gaze flicked to Horatio, who slept soundly through the night.

Archie smiled, and closed his eyes. All was well that night, he thought before he drifted off.
The next morning, Horatio woke up at 8 A.M., and was surprised to see Archie still asleep.

" Archie, time for your watch." he said to Archie, who opened his eyes.

" Didn't sleep well last night, did you?" he said knowingly.

" Yes." Archie admitted.

" She helped me to sleep, and I helped her. She thought something bad will happen today." Archie looked at Mary.

" I don't think it will, but who can tell?" Horatio dressed, and went about the captain's duties.

Archie dressed, and left to start his watch, leaving Mary alone in the cabin.

Meanwhile, Horatio could not keep his eyes open, and fell asleep on the captain's desk, dreaming. Pellew was fast asleep aslo.

Mary was on board the Indy, but it was cold outside, and she, for some reason, was bound, and in the gun deck. Mary tried to get up, but she could not.

" Finally woke up, eh?" Jack Simpson's eerie voice chilled her to the spine.

" Who are you?" she asked.

" I'm Jack Simpson. You, Mary Driskell, are my prisoner!"

" I figured as much!" she shot back.

" Horatio will come for me. So will Archie and Captain Pellew." she glared at Simpson.

" I've no doubt they will. Then they are mine!" Simpson sneered. He saw Mary's defiant look, and beat her.

When it was over, Mary felt like she had been turned inside out. Breathing was hurting her, and it felt like her body was on fire. Mary turned away from Simpson, and closed her eyes.

Three hours later, Mary awakened back to painful consciousness when Simpson kicked her in the ribs with his boot.

Mary stood up, and realized her feel were not bound. She made a run for it as soon as she could. But Simpson was fast. He tackled her, and beat her again.

" Horatio! Archie! Help!" she yelled. Simpson socked her in the jaw.

" Be quiet!" he ordered.

" Never!" Mary hissed. With all her strength she yelled out,
" HORATIO!" just before Jack Simpson knocked her senseless.

Horatio appeared, aloing with Archie and Pellew.

" Going to kill me again?" Simpson sneered at Pellew, who was fuming. He dealt Simpson a hard blow, one that knocked Simpson down. Horatio finished him off with a gunshot. Archie tossed Simpson off the deck, into the water.

" Mary?" Pellew asked, gently checking her for broken bones. There were none.

She groaned in pain, and did not stir. The three men took her to Dr. Johnson right away.

" She's a lost cause, sir. There's nothing I can do to help her." he said after examining her.

Pellew, Archie and Horatio stared at the doctor. " Do you mean she is going to die?" Archie asked.

Dr. Johnson nodded. " In the next few minutes, probably. Those injuries are beyond repair." he left the sick berth to go to his office.

The captain and two officers stayed around Mary, afraid not to be there when her time came. Mary had closed her eyes, and when Horatio supposed her forever asleep, Mary stirred under his hand.

She was feverish, and Horatio felt like he was touching fire when he touched her.

Archie propped her up, supporting her upper body, stroking her hair as he had done before. Pellew took her right hand, Horatio had the left. Mary's breathing was uneven, and somewhat ragged sounding. She did not open her eyes.

" Mary, we're here for you." Horatio said encouragingly.

" Is that Archie who's touching my hair?"

" Yes." Archie grinned.

" I knew it was you. You men know I'm dying?"

" Yes, though we do not want to admit it." Pellew said.

" You have to face it sooner or later. Good bye, gentlemen. Until we meet again." Mary's voice already sounded like it came from another world. She tried to smile reassurance, but she went limp abruptly.

" Good bye, Mary." Archie and Pellew gravely said. Horatio just held her hand, and wept silently.

" Mary!" was all he said.
" Mary!" Horatio heard himself calling out.

" Mr. Hornblower!" Pellew's voice said. Horatio became aware of someone beside him. He opened his eyes. Pellew was with Horatio, looking at him like he had gone mad.

" Captain Pellew, sir." Horatio shuddered, remembering the dream.

" What is it, Mr. Hornblower?"

" You should still be in bed, sir. Get into bed, and I will tell you."

" All right." Pellew did so. Horatio sat down near Pellew.

" I dreamt that Simpson beat up Mary, and she died from it."

" I guessed. You were crying out in your sleep. I thought for a moment that you had gone mad." Pellew said as Archie flung open the door.

" Horatio!" he gasped, soaking wet, ignoring Pellew's menacing glare.

" What is it, Archie?" Horatio stood up.

" It's a pretty bad storm, and we're within land!"

" Hold her steady best you can! Record our position on the chart so we know where we were when this storm blew in!" Horatio barked. Pellew had to admire Horatio's authorative tone of voice, he commanded attention.

" Aye, Horatio. Mary's fine, she's helping us." Archie left.

Horatio turned to Pellew in amazement. " Wow."

" I know. Mary, like me, hates to be idle. She'd rather be in action." Pellew grinned.

" Good to see you smiling again, sir. Now get some rest, and I'll be back shortly." Horatio grabbed his cloak, hat, and left.

It was raining so hard outside, Horatio could barely open his eyes. He caught sight of Mary's dress fluttering about in the wind, and walked to her.

" Mary! How goes everything?" he shouted.

" Fine, Horatio! But we can't get those main sails tethered! Not under this wind!" she yelled.

" I gotta get them tethered so we don't capsize!" Horatio made a move to the ratlines.

" Don't bother, I'll do it!" Mary climbed up the lines expertly, and flung herself onto the sails. It was a tough job, and Mary was prone to falling more than the men were, she had big skirts, which soaked up water like sponges.

Nevertheless, Mary bound the sails, got down to the deck, and flung herself into the water, holding onto a spare rope. She wound the rope around her left wrist, and jumped into the water.

" MARY!" Horatio screamed, watching her plunge in. He saw the rope, and dashed to the rail. Mary was clinging to the rope, swimming madly to the ship.

Horatio and Archie reeled Mary in. She lay on the deck for a moment, catching her breath.

" Are you all right, Mary?" Horatio asked as he and Archie helped her up.

" Yes! I was already soaked, so I enjoyed a little swim." she giggled, then went about the ship. Horatio and Archie looked at each other, amazed.
Four hours into the rough storm, another ship appeared.

" Look!" Archie cried out, pointing into the sea. Horatio looked hard, and saw the outline of a ship. Mary looked too.

" Mary, you should get some rest." Archie eyed her critically.

" I'm fine." she protested, but Archie made her change, and go to their cabin.

" Just sleep, and when you wake up, this will be over." Archie looked into her sleeping face, and left to help Horatio.

The second ship, apparently untroubled by the storm, threw a line, and Horatio tethered it to a bitt. The mysterious ship towed her to Portsmouth harbor.

Archie and Horatio watched the ship for a moment, then went to their cabin, leaving Mr. Bracegirdle on watch.

Mary was sound asleep when they entered. Archie and Horatio changed, then went into their bunks.

" What do you suppose that name was of that ship? Did you see it?" Horatio asked Archie.

" No, I didn't." Archie closed his eyes.

" I suppose we will see it tomorrow before it sets sail again. Good night, Archie." Horatio closed his eyes as well.

The mysterious ship towed them to Portsmouth remarkably fast.
Styles came into Horatio Archie and Mary's cabin that morning, sent to get Horatio up.

" Wake up, Mr. 'Ornblower." he said. Horatio startled awake.

" What is it, Styles?"

" We're in port, sir. The name of the other ship is Victory. Looks to be a fancy yacht more than a navy ship."

" Well, we made it there faster than I thought we would. Thank you, Styles." Styles left.

" Archie! We're in port. Get up." Horatio roused him.

" We're in port already?"

" Yes. Mary, get up." Horatio shook her shoulder.

" I had a odd dream." she groaned.

" What about?" Archie said.

" I dreamt that a ghost ship led us back to England."

" It happened. We're in England now."

" That's very odd." Mary grimaced.

" What is it?"

" Just a slight headache." she answered.

" Did you see the name of the ship?"

" Styles told me it was a yacht named the Victory." Horatio told her.

" Oh my god." Mary put her head back down. She closed her eyes.

" Mary?" Archie said questioningly. Mary did not respond.

" She's passed out. But why?" Horatio was utterly dumbfounded.

" Go and ask Captain Pellew. He's known her longer than we have. Maybe he'll say." Archie ordered. Horatio left to go to the captain's quarters.
Horatio hurried up to the captain's cabin, his head swimming with why Mary had fainted at the name of that ship that had saved their souls.

Pellew was sleeping when Horatio opened up the door without knocking. Pellew jumped, and gave him a stern look.

" Sir, it's Mary!" he exclaimed, ignoring the look on Pellew's face.

" What? Is she all right?"

" No. We mentioned the name of ship that towed us to port, and she fainted. Do you have any idea why?"

" What was the name?"

" Victory."

" That was the name of her father's yacht! He died during a pirate raid while trying to come home. The yacht was sunk by pirates." Pellew ordered Horatio to meet him in the cabin.

" She's been taken to sick berth, sir. Meet us there." Horatio left. Pellew was moving around much easier with his broken arm. He dressed, and hurried down to the sick berth where Archie had taken Mary.

" How is she?" he asked, looking down at Mary's still form.

" She's fine. I'll just need to watch over her until she wakes up, which should be soon." Dr. Johnson left.

Pellew, Archie and Horatio watched over Mary for nearly a hour before she began to show signs of waking.

" Mary! It's all right. Wake up now." Pellew encouraged her. Archie and Horatio leapt to attention.

Mary blinked and opened her eyes, seeing three concerned faces looking down at her. She sat up in the cot with Horatio propping her up.

" I should explain myself." Mary began.

" Victory was the name of my father's yacht. He died at sea in a raid conducted by pirates. The yacht was sunk, and my father never returned." Mary looked at Pellew.

" Edward knows all about this. He is my family's dearest friend." Mary clasped her left hand with Pellew's hand. Archie took her right hand as Horatio hugged her upper body.

" My mother once told him 'you be very careful with Mary on board your ship, Edward! She's the best daughter I have, and if she comes to harm, I'm coming looking for you!'" Mary mocked her mother. Pellew and the others grinned.

" My mother was the best. She protected me from my older sisters, who took joy in tormenting me, and beating me at the least things. Edward saved my life during the most cruel beating my sisters gave me."

" Whoa. What did you do, sir?" Archie asked, his blue eyes sparkled fiercely.

" I heard Mary crying out against her sisters, and I saw her being beaten. I stepped in, telling her sisters to push off. Mary was on the edge of her senses, as I helped her to the infirmary, and watched over her."

" Yes. Edward, you have saved my life and my soul. I am in debt to you forever." Mary said sincerly. Pellew smiled at her.

Mary reclined back against Horatio, and straightened up.

" I will retire to the cabin now." she announced.

" Can I talk to you?" Pellew asked.

" Of course Edward. Good night Horatio, Archie." she smiled and left.
Archie and Horatio were on watch as Mary settled down in her bed with Pellew by her side.

She lay back on her bed, exhausted after what went on that day. Mary talked with Pellew until she was sleepy enough.

" Edward, are all your voyages as eventful as this?" she joked.

" Sadly, no. Most are horribly boring." he answered.

" Is it more interesting now that I am here?"

" It's always more interesting when you are here."

" Thank you, Edward. I just hope that my sisters are telling the truth that Mother has died, and I am right to go back. If Mother really was dead, I would regret missing her wake. " tears ran down her cheeks.

Pellew took her hand firmly.

" Mary, you will attend her wake if she's dead. I will protect you. The best I can suggest is to disguise yourself, and take Horatio or Archie with you." he told her.

" Thank you." Mary said, closing her eyes. Pellew studied her and sighed. Mary truly was a great thing to happen to this ship, yet she still had no idea of how much she meant to him, Archie and Horatio. Archie and Pellew she treated like good friends, Horatio was her boyfriend, he was with her alot during the day.
Mary woke up, startled out of her sleep by Archie, who undoubtedly could not sleep. He was lying awake, staring at her.

" Archie, can't sleep?" she asked.

" No." he sighed.

" Let me help you." Mary offered. Like before, she took him into her strong arms, and talked to him until he was fast asleep.

" You're quite the lady, Mary." Archie said before he nodded off.

" Thank you, Archie." Mary smiled as she put his upper body down on the pillows while sliding out from under him. She pulled up the blankets, and left to go up to see Horatio during his watch.

Horatio was looking up at the stars, leaning against the bow sailmast. He wondered about Mary, and where their relationship was going.

As if she were psychic, she appeared out of the darkness to Horatio's side.

" Come with me for a walk, Horatio." she took his arm.

" Certainly, Mary." Horatio smiled. They walked up to the bridge, where Captain Pellew was standing watch also. He smiled at them, but then snapped back to his duty.

" Do you mind this?" Horatio wrapped Mary in a front-to-back hug.

" Not at all, Horatio." she leaned over to face him, her eyes piercing into his.

Horatio turned her so she was facing him, and they both saw Archie clamber up the steps for his watch. He stood beside Pellew, both secretly watching the couple before them.

As dawn broke, Horatio leaned his face into Mary's, and they both kissed as the sun came up. Archie and Pellew smiled at them, glad to see that Horatio had found someone.


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