HORNBLOWER - THE PREQUEL SEQUEL
Author's note for non-British riff-ra - woops - readers. Public
schools are prestigious independent schools outside of the State
system. The Year system used here is the old one, although some
independent schools have retained it:
First year - Age 11-12
Second year - Age 12-13
Third year - Age 13-14
Fourth year - Age 14-15
Fifth Year - Age 15-16
Lower Sixth - Age 16-17
Upper Sixth - Age 17-18
Assisantes are French girls of about 18 who help out in some schools with French pronunciation etc. - and don't read anything into the etc.
Tour of the Tower of London is authentic - I should know - I've done it with enough kids.
The author is no an expert on cricket, but then who is?
Comments in brackets like this [ ] are from the author herself and are probably best ignored.
SETTING: An English Public School (King George's College) in 1937.
Knock on the study door of Professor Pellew, Master of the Indefatigable House.
Hornblower: (Nervously) You sent for me Sir? H-Horatio H-Hornblower.
Pellew: Ah yes, (looking at some notes) Hornblower. I believe you've just joined us.
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Pellew: Messed things up a bit in your last school I believe. Something about fighting a Sixth Former called - er - Simpson. You'll be pleased to know he's out of hospital now. I have to tell you Hornblower that I take a dim view of Fifth Formers who do not know how to respect their elders.
Hornblower Yes Sir. But he was a bu.
Pellew: (Furiously cutting him off) Damn your impudence boy. Don't answer me back. They'll be no fighting in this school. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?
Hornblower: (Standing rigidly) Yes Sir. No Sir.
Pellew: (Relenting a little) However, I judge a boy by what I see him do, not what others tell me he has done. I am willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.
Hornblower: Thank you Sir.
Pellew: Don't thank me yet boy.
Gets up and paces up and down.
We have some scholarship riff-raff in the Third Year that the government has foisted onto us. They are bringing down the Merit Awards of our House. I have their names here. Wait a moment.
Looking at more notes:
Ah yes, here we are - Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd.
England might soon be at war with those bloody Gerries again Hornblower. (Unfortunately though it looks as if the Frogs will be on our side). Still, the government can't afford to educate boys who won't make officer material. I want you to take them in hand Hornblower and you will answer for them. Here's your Prefect badge.
Hornblower: (looking a little crestfallen) Yes Sir.
Pellew: Alright Hornblower, off you go now. Oh, and Hornblower ..
Hornblower: Yes Sir?
Pellew: Get your hair cut.
Hornblower: Yes Sir. Thank you Sir.
Same day in the Fifth Form Common Room. There are two pupils at work. Horatio is sitting at the table and a blond-haired boy called Archie Kennedy is sitting in a chair reading. The two boys have met briefly.
Archie: Hello Horatio. How did the meeting go with Pellew?
Horatio: Not good. He wants me to take those scholarship lads in hand - you know - the Third Formers.
Archie: (Whistles) God, that's going to be tough. They scare the hell out of me. Besides which, I can't understand a word they say. Especially that kid from the East End of London - what's his name? - Oldroyd I think.
Horatio: Will you help me Archie? I'm not sure I can do this by myself.
Archie: (Looks concerned, but then brightens up) Certain sure. But only if you help me with my Maths homework. I've noticed you're a wizzo at it.
Horatio: O.K. (sighs) And maybe you can help me understand that long-winded Shakespeare chap.
Same evening. Horatio goes into the Junior Common Room. He asks for Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd. There are a few giggles, but no-one will admit to knowing where they are.
Horatio frowns but is suddenly inspired, perhaps thinking back to his own Third Year days. He makes his way down into the basement.
Halfway down the stairwell he hears laughter and someone shouting:
Blooody 'ell Oldroyd. Ain't you able to count. That makes six.
Oldroyd: No it don't, you Yorki/Geordie/Brummy/Scouse* bastard. You ain't killed that las' one. [*Sorry - I don't know a lot about northern accents. I've only been north of Watford once, and that was by mistake because I got lost on the M1 - only joking, it's a lovely place]
Styles holds up a cockroach in triumph.
Styles: 'Av a loook at this then you Cockney git. It's all squished. You woouldn't survive if I squished you like that (if oonly!) Coome on, you owe me six gobstoppers.
Hornblower, horrified, walks out of the shadows.
Hornblower: (Getting out his Prefect's notebook) Names?
They all sulkily oblige.
Styles: It's our free time (suddenly seeing the Prefect badge) - Sir. We've doone our 'omework.
Hornblower: (Cool but authoritative) This is gambling and it's against the school rules.
Matthews: (Petulantly) They didn't mind us playing this game at Broomfield Secondary Sir.
Hornblower: You're not at Broomfield Secondary now. You're at King George's and what's more you're in my house Indefatigable.
Glowers round at them.
The school punishment against gambling is I believe a thrashing from your Housemaster - in our case Professor Pellew.
Styles: But Sir
Hornblower: (Raising his voice for the first time) And BY GOD I'll send you all to him if you don't clear up these cockroaches.
Styles throws Hornblower an evil look.
Hornblower: One more look like that Styles and I'll do it.
Matthews: (Whispering) Word of advice Styles - Shuut it!
Hornblower: Right. In future, when you've finished your homework, I want you playing ping-pong in the common room or reading in the library. Is that clear?
I'VE SAID IT AND I MEAN IT! IS THAT CLEAR?
Chorus: YES SIR!
Matthews: (Nervously looking round at the others) Sir. I was woond'ring Sir, begging your pardon Sir.
Hornblower: Yes Matthews.
Matthews: If Styles and me live oop north and Oldroyd here lives in the East End, how coomes we all went to the same schoool?
Hornblower: Well Matthews that's what's called poetic licence. In any case Amer - I mean - foreigners - think England is so small, they wouldn't know the difference. Also, most of them think it's foggy all the time and we never know where we are anyway.
Matthews: (Much relieved) Ooh I see Sir. Thank you Sir. Well it can be a bit foggy soometimes Sir.
Hornblower: Yes well - good. Now clear away these cockroaches before the caretaker sees them. Oldroyd!
Oldroyd: Yes Sir?
Hornblower: It was six. Report to me for extra maths homework.
Oldroyd: (Suppressing a grin) Yes Sir!
Suddenly there is clattering down the stairs. Archie appears, very excited [bless]
Archie: Inter-house fight on the cricket pitch! Indefatigable and Dreadnoughts. Get up there quick.
Oldroyd: We'll giv'em a pasting eesy, wivout no-one else. Cum on you Broomfields!
Archie: What did he say, Horatio?
The cricket pitch. Absolute chaos and a lot of noise. Someone is letting off bangers as well. Teachers and Prefects are trying to separate the two factions, without much success. Pellew and Foster, Housemaster of the Dreadnoughts, are pretending to restore order, but are actually inciting more violence by shouting abuse at each other. Suddenly Hornblower dives into the scrum and picks out handfuls of bleeding First Formers. He rushes them off to the Matron, who has a triage system going.
Pellew: (Mutters to himself, noticing Hornblower's swift and compassionate actions) E-hem. I see something in that boy
Foster: (Overhearing) Rubbish. Too squeamish by half.
In the infirmary. Matron and her orderlies are trying to patch up all the injuries. Hornblower enters with his hands full of screaming First Formers.
Matron: Put them over there. I've got to see to the teachers first.
Hornblower: But Matron, they're scared to death!
Matron: They'll have to wait their turn, like everyone else!
Hornblower: (approaching a Deputy Head, Mr. Chad, who has a cricket stump through his arm). Sir, these First Formers are terrified and one of them has a nasty leg wound. Would you mind waiting?
Chad: (Not looking too happy, but shamed into it) Oh alright, Matron, treat the First Formers before me. [Well at least he got to say a line]
Hornblower returns to the cricket pitch. There are wounded pupils still lying around, but Indefatigable pupils are cheering.
Archie: (Running up to Hornblower) We carried it Horatio! Did you see me, did you see. I clouted two of them, well one certainly. Where were you?
Hornblower looks at the scene, completely dazed. He shakes his head and smiles ruefully.
Two weeks later. Professor Pellew's study.
Pellew: Well Hornblower I've asked you to see me because I have an important job for you. The History teacher, Mr. Bracegirdle, has asked for a Prefect to go on a trip with him. He's taking third formers on a coach trip to the Tower of London. And that includes the pupils we - er - discussed earlier.
Hornblower: (Going slightly pale) Yes Sir. How many altogether Sir?
Pellew: Thirty I believe.
Hornblower: (Going paler) Yes Sir.
Pellew: Well boy, don't stand there dawdling. Go and tell Mr. Bracegirdle you'll be able to go with him.
Hornblower: Yes Sir. Straight away Sir.
Pellew: And Hornblower ..
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Pellew: Get your hair cut.
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Fifth Form Common Room. Horatio and Archie are talking.
Archie: Well done Horatio. Your first school coach trip as Prefect.
Horatio: Mmm. But Third Formers Archie.
Archie: Consider yourself lucky Horatio. You might have had to take them on the tube. You'd have lost half of them when you changed lines. In fact, I think that's what happened last year. In fact, now I come to think of it a pupil hijacked a train and abandoned it on the end of the Central Line - Epping I think. They say the tube driver never recovered. Although I believe Epping's a very nice spot. My uncle Lord Kennedy has hunting rights in Epping Forest.
Pauses for breath.
Mind you Horatio, you've got to mind out for that coachdriver.
Horatio: Why's that Archie?
Archie: Well last year we Fourth Formers went on a trip to the British Museum.
Horatio: Did you see the Egyptian mummies Archie?
Archie: Well no. I didn't go in actually.
Horatio: Why's that Archie?
Archie: Well. (Takes a deep breath). I don't like to talk about it really. These boys were mucking about at the back of the coach. The driver got ever so cross and stopped the coach on the fast lane of the M25.
Horatio: But Archie, the M25 hasn't been built yet!
Archie: Well, St. Alban's Road.
Horatio: Archie - that's going in the wrong direction!
Archie: Well I don't know then Horatio. I'm not very good at navigation. Perhaps it was the Finchley Road. O.K.?
Horatio: (Not convinced) Oh alright Archie. I'll have to get you a copy of Norie's AA Book.
Archie: Right. Well anyway. They all said that I'd pulled out the back seat and smashed it through the window.
Horatio: And had you Archie?
Archie: Of course not Horatio. I was far too busy finding all the cigarette ends on the floor to swap later for tuck coupons.
Horatio: Well, what happened Archie?
Archie: This coachdriver is a big chap and he gets very angry. He picked me up and threw me into the luggage hold.
Archie: It was horrible in there Horatio. There wasn't room to stand up or lie down and he wouldn't let me take my sandwiches with me, so I was starving.
Horatio: When did he let you out Archie?
Archie: When we got back here and only because the Shakespeare Society asked where I was. I was in the infirmary for two days Horatio. I'd nearly lost my mind and I could barely walk. The thing was Horatio you weren't there. All I had was Matron bleating on about laxatives.
Horatio: That was really bad luck Archie. I'm sorry,
but I didn't know.
(Pulling his hand across his face) [Nice isn't it] I've got a very bad feeling about this trip Archie.
Next day. Hornblower and Mr. Bracegirdle are loading the Third Formers onto the coach.
Bracegirdle: I think you'd better sit at the back Hornblower to stop the boys making rude signs to car drivers.
Hornblower: (Gloomily) Yes Sir.
Bracegirdle: But first of all, we need to check all their bags.
Hornblower: What for Sir?
Bracegirdle: Weren't you ever a Third Former Hornblower? You have to learn the ways of these boys.
Hornblower: Oh yes Sir. Sorry Sir. Alcohol and dangerous weapons.
The boys are passing through. Now it's the turn of Styles.
Hornblower: Styles, take the knife out of your sock.
Styles: Oh but Sir.
Hornblower: DO IT!
Hornblower waits and takes the knife.
Matthews: (whispering) I toold you he'd suss it. He's no foool that Hoornbloower.
Hornblower: Oldroyd get out your flask. (sniffs the contents with a disgusted expression and empties the liquid onto the grass, which swiftly turns brown.) Where the hell did you get that from?
Oldroyd: From the Frog assistante Sir. She's a good Frog.
Hornblower: (Sighing). Get onto the coach Oldroyd. Any more nonsense from you today and you'll be making a trip to Professor Pellew's study. Do I make myself clear?
Oldroyd: (Not in the least abashed and grinning from ear to ear). Yes Sir. Keep your 'air on!"
Matthews: (urgently) Sir, Sir. The cooachdriver is all hairy.
Hornblower: (Unconcerned) That's because he's a dago refugee Matthews. They can't afford razors.
Matthews: What's 'e dooin' 'ere Sir?
Hornblower: The dagoes have been fighting each other Matthews, and Don Massaredo here got fed up with it.
Matthews: (Eyes widening) Wot Sir. 'E chose to coome 'ere and drive our cooach?
Hornblower: Well yes, Matthews. Perhaps all that shooting got to his brain. Now get on the coach, there's a good chap.
Raucous singing on the coach. Hornblower is looking very grey/green at the back. The road is winding next to the River Lea. Suddenly the coach veers into the river. The coachdriver furiously stands up and turns round.
Massaredo: One of my earss is sstinging, and two of my wheelss are in ze river. I waant to know whoo is responssible.
Hornblower glances up at an ugly-looking boy, Hunter. He realises with horror that he has a pea-shooter in his hand and that one of his legs is in plaster. Mr. Bracegirdle is fast asleep (perhaps he's taken something, tincture of laudanum?) at the front of the coach. Knowing that he should have confiscated the pea-shooter, and that the boy has an injured leg, Hornblower stands up.
Hornblower: It was I Sir - Hornblower.
Massaredo: You are a Prefect. I cannot believe yoo would do anyzing so viicious and ssensselesss.
Hornblower: Nonetheless Sir.
Massaredo: (100% eye contact) Well Ssir. Ass one of your fourth-formers found out lasst year (Kennedy I zink his name wass) I am not afraid to be cruuuuel.
Hornblower goes very pale and looks pleadingly at Don Massaredo.
Matthews: (urgently) Sir. Loook at the flooorboards. There's water coomin' in.
Hornblower: Well yes Matthews. We are taking in a little water and it's made the wood swell. We'll have to jettison the cargo.
Hornblower: We'll all get out and push. Then Don Massaredo can drive the coach out again.
Massaredo: (Threateningly) I will deeel wiz yoo later H-ch-ornblower.
They all get out to push. Hornblower, for some reason, is the only one to strip to his waist. [Alright - come on girls - back to the story!]
Hornblower: Come on you lot! Put your backs into it! Call yourselves Third Formers!
Eventually, after many tries, the coach is freed. There is a rousing cheer. Hornblower dresses again [sorry girls, all good things have to come to an end].
But the engine is flooded. Don Massaredo can't get it to start again. Oldroyd runs up to Hornblower.
Oldroyd: Sir, Sir. Le' me 'ave a go Sir.
Hornblower: (Surprised) Can you drive Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: Lor' Sir, I bin nicking cars since I was five. No' much else ter do in Wappin' if you know wha' I mean Sir.
Hornblower: (Opening and shutting his mouth in amazement)
Massaredo: That's againsst sschool ruless and he'ss not inssured.
Hornblower: Later at our leisure you can show me where it's against school rules. For now, let him try!
Within minutes, Oldroyd has the engine going again.
Massaredo: (Looking threateningly at Hornblower) Now before we go on, yooo ssenor. (Grabs hold of him)
Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd look set to make the situation worse, but Hornblower orders them to sit down. Don Massaredo throws him into the luggage hold. Mr. Bracegirdle is still fast asleep at the front of the coach.
The coach arrives at The Tower of London. Raucous singing can be heard, led by Oldroyd:
My old man
Said ge' on the van
And don' dilly dally on the way
Don Massaredo has a strange, far-away look in his eyes. Mr. Bracegirdle at last wakes up.
Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd run up to him.
Sir. Sir. Tha' dago bastard pu' 'ornblower in the luggage 'old.
Bracegirdle: What! That will never do! Get him out!
They open the hatch door and pull Hornblower out. He's looking very dusty.
Bracegirdle: (Whipping out a brush from his coat pocket). Here boy, let's give you a good brush. (Standing back). Well that looks better. You're as ready as you'll ever be. At least you won't disgrace the school now. Where's your cap? (Looks at it in disgust). Oh, well, just slip it under your arm, maybe they won't notice.
Hornblower: (Looking very grateful) Thank you Mr. Bracegirdle.
Oldroyd, Matthews and Styles lead a chorus of cheering.
Hornblower: Alright. That's enough. (Looks round)
Matthews: Soome of the lads Sir though' they'd drop 'im in't Thames as 'e caused you trooble like. Styles is with them.
Hornblower: What! Take over here Matthews. (He runs after a group of boys who are pushing Hunter towards Tower Bridge.) He sees Styles prodding Hunter onto the Bridge with one of his crutches and then grabbing him.
Hornblower: Belay that Styles!
Styles: Wo' Sir. Why're yoo speaking foony?
Hornblower: Put him DOWN.
Suddenly there's a cranking noise and the Bridge starts to open. Hunter is stranded up there.
He sees he has to jump up to rescue Hunter.
Hornblower: (Walking along the parapet very carefully) DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!
He just gets Hunter (who is sobbing) in time and brings him down.
Hornblower: (Taking Styles by the scruff of the neck) One more stunt like that Styles, and if Pellew doesn't thrash you, I WILL!
Styles: (Only slightly abashed and sorry to be missing out on some fun) But Sir.
Hornblower: One more word from you Styles ...
Styles: (Muttering to himself) Bloody 'ell, I though' Massaredo were a bastard!
Hornblower glowers at him and they go back to the car park.
A coach full of girls parks next to theirs. There is a rousing cheer.
Styles: (Cheering up considerably) Loook Sir. Girls. Nice uniforms. Goood loooking. Look a' tha' one with the blond pony-tail.
Hornblower: Don't froth at the mouth boy. You've seen girls before.
Styles: Not for six blooody months I 'aven't. We was co-educational at Broomfield.
Hornblower: (Sighing) Matthews - you seem to have a bit more sense than the others. You watch out for the boys in the middle of the line, and I'll stay at the back. Mr. Bracegirdle is at the front of course. Oldroyd and Styles you stay with me.
Matthews: Nice loooking girls though, aren't they Sir?
Hornblower: (Glowering) What's that got to do with staying in the middle, Matthews.
Matthews: (Abashed). Nothing Sir. Sorry Sir. Middle it is Sir.
The school party have made their way over the moat bridge. Mr. Bracegirdle goes off with half the boys, and Hornblower has the other half.
Hornblower: Right, here we are on Tower Green. See that big tower over there? That's the White Tower. In the thirteenth century a Welsh Prince called Ioan Gruffudd was imprisoned there. He tried to escape by knotting sheets together. [No really - I'm not winding you up. I don't know if his name was Ioan though]
Oldroyd: Bloody 'ell. I tried that once a' 'ome. Only twisted me ankle though.
Hornblower: Well I don't think Prince Ioan was very successful either Oldroyd.
They say he was so good-looking that when he died hundreds of girls in Wales jumped off bridges.
(Coughs) Yes, well, anyway, we're going into the White Tower now to look at the armour and weapons.
Inside the White Tower, looking at the armour.
Hornblower: That armour there belonged to Henry VIII.
Styles: God, 'e 'ad a big
Hornblower: Yes, quite Styles. Let's move on. Look at all the swords over there in that cabinet.
Styles: But 'e did, didn't 'e Sir? 'E 'ad loads of wives too, didn't 'e?
Hornblower: Yes. Six Styles.
Styles: Did 'e cuut all their 'eds off Sir?
Hornblower: No Styles. Didn't you ever learn the rhyme:
Divorced, beheaded, died
Divorced, beheaded, survived.
Oldroyd: (Very disappointed). You mean Sir, 'e only cu' two of their 'eds orf.
Hornblower: Yes Oldroyd. Now that's enough. Let's go down to the dungeons.
Hornblower: Right. Some very famous, or infamous, prisoners were kept here, such as Guy Fawkes.
Styles: 'Oo was 'e Sir?
Hornblower: Don't you have fireworks on November 5th up north Styles or "Penny for the Guy"?
Styles: Oh yes Sir. But I ain't 'erd of this Guy Fawkes blooke.
Hornblower: Well, that's why we have fireworks Styles. Guy
Fawkes was going to blow up Parliament, but he was caught. That's
why we have to
"Remember, remember the 5th of November"
Styles: Wot's that li'le dungeon there Sir.
Hornblower: It's the Dungeon of The Little Ease Styles, where
they put very dangerous prisoners. Guy Fawkes was in there.
(Going pale) There was no room to stand up or lie down in it.
Oldroyd: Sir. Wha' are them fings on the wall?
Hornblower: I think they're instruments of torture Oldroyd.
Oldroyd: Sir - you see tha' one there with the fings stickin' ou'?
Hornblower: (Going paler) Yes Oldroyd.
Oldroyd: Wot d'yer fink that's for?
Hornblower: (Getting desperate) I have no idea Oldroyd. Let's go out and get some fresh air.
General stampede for the spiral staircase.
Back on Tower Green.
Hornblower: This is where lots of famous people were executed. Where this plaque is. Including the two wives we were talking about, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
Styles: Mr. Bracegirdle said they was bonkin' other men, Sir.
Hornblower: I'm sure Mr. Bracegirdle said no such thing Styles.
Styles: Well, it's wha' 'e meant Sir.
Hornblower: Yes, well, perhaps.
Hornblower: Let's look at the Bloody Tower over there.
Oldroyd: Sir. I didn' fink you ever swore!
Hornblower: That's what it's called Oldroyd. Because two little princes were murdered there in the 15th century.
Oldroyd: Gawd! This place 'as seen more murders than the 'ol of the East End when Jack the Ripper was prowlin' abou'.
Hornblower: Quite Oldroyd. Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in there too. He brought back tobacco from America in the 16th century.
Matthews: Is tha' why 'e was imprisoned Sir? Me mam says tobacco is a terrible curse like.
Hornblower: (Smiling) Well no, Matthews. A king called James I didn't like him.
Oldroyd: (Going pale) Bloody 'ell Sir. If King George didn' like me, could 'e chuck me in 'ere Sir?
Hornblower: (Trying not to laugh) No Oldroyd. Thankfully things are a bit different these days. Let's go and look at the Crown Jewels.
Hornblower: Right. No larking about in here. This is serious. That man there with the red and black uniform is a Beefeater and he'll arrest you if you don't behave yourselves. Are you listening Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: (Eyes nearly popping out) Yes Sir.
Hornblower: You wait in the queue behind these tourists, O.K.?
Chorus: Yes Sir.
in the queue: Oh look, Homer at those darling li'lle English boys in their uniforms and their caps. How have they ever gotten to be so cute.
Oldroyd: (Poking out his tongue behind her back) I ain' no-one's darlin' Missis. Gawd, I wish I 'ad my pea-shoo'er and I'd pu' i' up 'er ..
Hornblower: That's enough Oldroyd.
Styles: Those Americans speak foony Sir. What dooes 'gotten' mean?
Hornblower: (Whispering) I think it means 'have got' Styles, or 'did get' or 'could have got' (getting completely lost in syntax) I'm not quite sure actually.
Hornblower removes his cap and bows to the American lady.
American lady:Look at that Homer. Isn't that the swee'est thing you ever saw? Gee you never see manners like that in Ohio.
Homer: Mmm. He could do with a haircut.
Hornblower: Well boys, what did you think of all those crowns?
Styles: I'd feel like a ponsey idio' with oone of them on me 'ed.
Oldroyd: Yer look like a ponsey idio' wi' tha' cap on yer 'ed anyway.
The boys start to fight.
Hornblower: Oldroyd, Styles, that's enough.
He pulls them apart.
Matthews: Sir. The lads and me was wond'rin' why we 'aven' gone oop the top of any of the towers.
Hornblower: (Looking sheepish) Well Matthews, actually I don't like heights very much, and anyway I don't think we're insured for you falling off. [Calling all teachers - that's always a good fob-off]
Matthews: Oh I see Sir. Thank you Sir.
Hornblower: Right. We're going out past Traitor's Gate. They used to display heads here on poles. One of the few people who came in that way and went out again with their head still on was Elizabeth I. She was imprisoned here by her sister, Bloody Mary.
Oldroyd: Sir, I fough' you said you never swore.
Hornblower: No Oldroyd. That's what she was called, because she executed lots of people.
Styles: Blooomin' 'eck, she threw 'er own sister in prison? I though' my relatives was bad enoough. Me father looved knockin' us abou' - if 'e were me father. Even 'e wouldn't chuck us in't lock-up thoough.
Hornblower: O.K. I think it's time to go out now and wait for Mr. Bracegirdle's group. We can wait by Tower Bridge.
Outside The Tower, next to the Thames.
Hornblower: What's the matter Oldroyd, you're very quiet.
Oldroyd: Well Sir I came 'ere last year wiv me old school and Mrs. M.
Hornblower: Do you miss your old school Oldroyd? What was it - Broomfield Secondary?
Oldroyd: Yes Sir. Well Sir, i' were a scummy ol' place, bu' there was some nice teachers there.
Oldroyd: There was this teacher called Mrs. M. She was ace. She used ter 'elp me a' lunchtime wiv me 'omework, so's I could ge' tha' scholarship and become a toff.
Hornblower: That was decent of her Oldroyd. I'll help you with your homework too if you like. Then I could write her a letter [Yes please] and tell her how you're doing.
Oldroyd: (Brightening up) Would yer really Sir. Tha' would be ace.
Hornblower: How did you get here from Broomfield Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: By tube Sir.
Hornblower: What, here and back?
Oldroyd: Yes Sir.
Hornblower: And this Mrs. M. didn't lose any of you.
Oldroyd: Lor' no Sir, she'd a go' the sack. We 'ad to change twice as well Sir.
Hornblower whistles admiringly.
Oldroyd: Anyway Sir. I's bin be'er comin' 'ere wiv you.
Hornblower: Why's that Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: You allow much more muckin' abou' than she did and she wouldn' go in the dungeons Sir. Mind you, she didn' mind goin' up the top like.
Hornblower: Really Oldroyd. She should have gone into the Navy!
Oldroyd: Blimey Sir. Was tha' a joke .
[Serious authorial self-indulgence in this scene I'm afraid, but I'm putting Oldroyd's commendation into my Threshold Papers so I get paid more]
Pause in the conversation.
Oldroyd: Sir. If you wen' on up the river there, you'd ge' to Wappin'.
Hornblower: Yes Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: Well Sir, tha's where I comes from, Wappin'.
Hornblower: Do you miss your family Oldroyd?
Oldroyd: Lor' no Sir. They's a dir'y 'orrible lo'. Bu' I do miss me mum's sticky puddin'.
Hornblower: I know what you mean Oldroyd. I was very homesick when I started boarding school. I kept being sick. When I was a first year I had my very own bucket by my bed.
Oldroyd: (Amazed) Bu' Sir. You're so posh. I can' imagine you ever bein' sick.
Hornblower: Well actually Oldroyd, I was nearly sick coming here on the coach.
Oldroyd: (Hesitantly) Sir. Do I 'av to si' nex' t'yer on the way back?
The next day. Professor Pellew's study.
Pellew: Well Hornblower. Mr. Bracegirdle was very impressed with how you handled the boys on their trip.
Hornblower: Thank you Sir. But we did lose the coach Sir.
Pellew: Well yes. But it wasn't your fault it blew up. Better that the school lost the coach than someone else should benefit from it. Lucky for you though that the driver refused to drive back here. Otherwise it might have blown up with all of you in it, instead of in the car park.
Hornblower: Quite Sir.
Pellew: Pity he was still in it though.
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Pellew: Mr. Bracegirdle said you showed a lot of initiative in getting the boys back to the school.
Hornblower: I don't think London Underground were very pleased Sir.
Pellew: It was a bold stroke to hijack that Northern Line train back to Barnet.
Hornblower: Actually Sir I didn't really hijack it, it was going to High Barnet anyway. I just made sure it didn't stop at any of the other stations in case any of the boys tried to get out.
Pellew: Yes well. No false modesty now Hornblower. You did well.
Hornblower: Yes Sir. No Sir. Mr. Bolton didn't think so Sir.
Pellew: What? The Head of the Fifth Year?
Hornblower: Yes Sir. He said I was a restless devil and had to be beaten.
Pellew: (Looking puzzled) Really why?
Hornblower: Well it was strange Sir. He said he'd been talking to the Librarian, Mr. Forester. Something about it was in book 6, but not book 1. I didn't understand what he meant Sir. I only like reading books on Maths and whist - and The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Pellew: Oh well Hornblower. He is master of his own year. Did it hurt?
Hornblower: It did sting a bit Sir. But it was more embarrassing than anything else.
Pellew: Oh, why was that?
Hornblower: (Looking puzzled) Well Sir, he said really I had to be beaten over a canon. And the only canon is the ceremonial one by the school gates. So he did it there.
Pellew: That's a bit harsh. Were there many buses passing by?
Hornblower: Well luckily Sir there was only one 263 to Whetstone and it was only half full. There was an old man with his dog who said that the youth of today needed a good hiding and it would be a sad day for the world if boys ever ceased to be beaten.
Pellew: Is that all he said?
Hornblower: No Sir. He said I needed a haircut and a spell in the Navy would do me good.
Pellew: Mmm. Oh well, let's move on. The Fifth Formers will be taking their Leaving Certificate soon for entry to the Sixth Form. Do you think you'll be ready for it?
Hornblower: I hope so Sir.
Pellew: We could do with you in the Sixth Form Hornblower. But if you fail your Certificate it's back to the Fifth Form for another year.
Hornblower: I understand that Sir.
Pellew: Alright. That'll do Mr. Hornblower. And by the way Hornblower.
Hornblower: Yes Sir?
Pellew: Get your hair cut!
In the Senior School refectory, two days later.
A boy is approaching Horatio and Archie who are eating at a table.
Archie: When you were in Barnet Horatio, you could have visited my Aunty, Lady Byng-Kennedy. She has an estate there.
Horatio: Really? Have you got relatives at all the ends of tube lines Archie?
Horatio chuckles, then looks up. A disgusted expression comes over his face.
Archie: (Prattling on, unaware of his friend's horror and looking at his plate) You know Horatio, our parents pay a lot for this junk. You'd think they could at least get the weevils out of the biscuits before they gave them to us.
Horatio: I think that's the least of our troubles now Archie.
Simpson: (Sneeringly) Well, well, if it isn't Snotty.
Simpson sits down at the table.
Simpson: And who's your little friend with the blond mop?
Horatio: (Disgusted expression is still there) What are you doing here Simpson?
Simpson: Failed my Maths Leaving Cert again didn't I? Pater and Mater couldn't persuade that silly old sod Cornwallis to keep me on in the Sixth Year. So here I am, back with you in the Fifth Year.
Horatio: Don't your parents ever give up? You must be over 21 now. And anyway, why here?
Simpson: I heard you'd moved here Snotty and we've got some unfinished business.
He looks around.
Just like old times. I've missed you boy.
Horatio: These are new times Simpson. You have no hold over me here.
Simpson: We'll see about that Snotty.
Simpson leans over to Archie.
What you eating there boy?
Archie: (Blinking in surprise) Mutton.
Simpson: (Starts eating it from Archie's plate) Bit salty for my taste though. (Grabs Archie's glass)
Archie: (Blinking even more) What do you mean by eating my dinner?
Simpson: You'll be pleased to hear that now I'm here I'll be able to do what I like. I'm the most senior in the Fifth Year. (Puts his face right up to Archie's). Render unto Caesar - and I'll leave you to work out who should be Caesar and who should do the rendering.
Archie: But we're all Fifth Formers here.
Simpson: (Suavely) That smacks of republicanism to me. Is that what you are?
Archie: Well no. But there's nothing in the school rules .
Simpson: (Shouting) I PISS ON YOUR SCHOOL RULES.
Archie jumps. Horatio looks at him, concerned.
Horatio: It won't work here Simpson. I'm a Prefect now and this is a proper school with good teachers who know what to do with bullies.
Simpson: (Leering at Archie) We'll see, Snotty. We'll see. You won't always be there to protect your little friend.
Two days later. Professor Pellew's Study.
Pellew: Well Hornblower I have a disturbing letter here.
Hornblower: Oh yes Sir?
Pellew: Mmm. It's from that damn Papist school down the road. Um, St. Lobstinatius. They want us to play them at cricket.
Hornblower: (Going pale) Really Sir? I didn't know they played cricket Sir.
Pellew: (Pacing up and down) That damn school. Gets better results than we do. Sends more pupils into the armed forces. (Pulls a face of disgust) Full of second generation Irish riff-raff and worse.
Hornblower: Worse Sir?
Pellew: Mmm. Few dagoes and wops in there too I shouldn't wonder. (Screws up his face in horror) Perhaps even a few frogs.
Pellew: It says here they "want to play a game of cricket in the spirit of friendship and cooperation in these troubled times." How would you translate that Hornblower?
Hornblower: Well Sir. I'd say they want to show solidarity.
Pellew: Solidarity? Meaningless word. They'll soon be in bed with the Gerries.
Hornblower: Perhaps Sir. But we will prevail Sir. They say we have God on our side.
Pellew: (Dryly) Let's hope the almighty never chooses to show "solidarity" then Hornblower.
Pellew sits down again.
Well I want you to organise this cricket match Hornblower. I believe that new boy Simpson is a great batsman. Make sure he's on the team.
Hornblower: (Looking aghast) Yes Sir.
Pellew: I don't need to tell you Hornblower that the honour of the school and Indefatigable House is at stake here. Losing is not an option.
Hornblower: No Sir. We'll do our best Sir.
Pellew: (Terrified he might be about to show some emotion) Now look here Hornblower. You'll be on foreign territory, surrounded by the ene - Papists. Don't do anything before you think it's safe to do so.
Hornblower: No Sir. Indeed I won't Sir.
Pellew: Anyway, before all that, I have I think a sterner test for you here.
Hornblower: Yes Sir?
Pellew: I have an invitation for Professor Edward Pellew and - er - Prefect Horatio Hornblower to attend a dinner in Professor Foster's rooms.
Hornblower: Dreadnought Foster Sir?
Pellew: I do not like these inflated titles Hornblower.
Hornblower: No Sir.
(Having had a chance to digest the idea) Dinner. At Professor Foster's. But why me Sir?
Pellew: Well, it's fancy dress. I thought I'd go as a Captain in Nelson's Navy and you could go as my Midshipman. You can put white patches on your blazer collar. I chose you, because you've still (looks at him accusingly) got the longest hair in the school and you can tie it back with a ribbon like they used to in those days.
Horatio: Are you sure they used a ribbon Sir?
Pellew: Yes. An elastic band won't do. Is that clear Hornblower?
Horatio: (Bit sulkily) Yes Sir.
Pellew: Mr. Bracegirdle will be my First Lieutenant. Foster's going to be a Captain too and his niece is going to be a Duchess.
Horatio: His niece Sir?
Pellew: (Testily) Hornblower, we're never going to finish this interview if you keep hissing repetitions at me like a goose on a green.
Hornblower: (Getting a grip of himself) Alright Sir. Sorry Sir. When is the dinner Sir?
Pellew: Tomorrow evening. Well, off you go now.
Hornblower: Thank you Sir. (Hesitating) Could I ask you a question Sir?
Pellew: Yes, what is it?
Hornblower: Is it true Sir that Papists, er, do things with candles?
Pellew: (Looking at him closely) What did I do for entertainment before you came to the school Hornblower. Oh and Hornblower .
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Pellew: Don't get your hair cut.
Later on, Fifth Form Common Room.
Horatio: But Archie, you know you're the best spin bowler we have.
Archie: Yes, but Horatio. Papists. One of my second cousins married a Papist.
Horatio: Oh yes. What happened?
Archie: Well, nothing really. They had lots of children.
Horatio: Archie, you've got hundreds of relatives. They all have lots of children. Half of them are dotted over the tube map.
Archie: Well that's true.
Horatio: (Pleading) Archie - I won't survive if you don't help me.
Archie: Horatio, you know you don't really need my help. Horatio Hornblower always gets out of any situation.
Horatio: (With a winning smile) I'll give you my lemonade ration for a week.
Archie: Oh, alright then. You can keep your lemonade though. You'd do the same for me if I was in your position.
Horatio: Thanks Archie, you're a brick. There is one more thing I've got to tell you though. Simpson will be in our team. He's a wizzo batsman.
Archie: (Going pale) He's very strange Horatio. He looks at me funny.
Horatio: Well I'll be there Archie. I'll make sure he keeps in line.
Archie: How did he used to bully you Horatio?
Horatio: Well, when I was in the First Year, he was already in the Fifth Year. He got to hear that I was always top at Maths, so he used to make me do his Maths homework. When I got it wrong, he used to hit me. Well, we didn't do sines and cosines in the First Year, so I didn't know anything about them.
Archie: The cad!
Horatio: You don't know half what he's capable of. He found out that I was always being sick and had a bucket by my bed in the dorm. From then on he made my life hell.
Horatio: Wherever we went, he used to introduce me as 'The First Year who had a sick bucket next to his bed'. It got so bad I only had to look at him and I'd throw up.
Archie: Good lord! What happened in the end?
Horatio: Well, he kept being expelled from the school but his father's an Earl or something, and our Headmaster kept letting him come back.
Archie: Go on.
Horatio: One evening last year a group of us were playing whist in the Common Room and he accused me of cheating. He said I knew the backs of the cards as well as the fronts.
Archie: What a bounder!
Horatio: So I challenged him to a duel.
Archie: You did what?
Horatio: Well sort of. I challenged him to a boxing match in the gym.
Archie: (Whistles) But he's got huge hands.
Horatio: Yes. He was school boxing champion too, but I was so desperate that I didn't care. The chances weren't very even of course..
Archie: Go on.
Horatio: Well, I decided to even things up a bit.
Archie: What did you do?
Horatio: It was my challenge and I said we had to box blind-folded.
Archie: Good Lord! Did he agree?
Horatio: Reluctantly yes.
Archie: So what happened?
Horatio: Well, the night before I went into the boxing ring and cut a hole out of the boards and dug right down underneath it. I put the boards back as if nothing was wrong. I tied a knot next to the hole so that I'd know where it was.
Archie looks puzzled.
Then, when the fight started, I pushed him into it. He had a broken arm and two broken ribs.
Archie: Wasn't that against the rules Horatio?
Horatio: Well yes. But I play to win. I got expelled and came here. So I was rid of him.
Archie: (Looking at his friend admiringly) Oh well then, to quote the Bard: "All's well that ends well"
Horatio: Well not quite, as he followed me here ..
Archie: Mmm. To go back to the cricket match Horatio. Who else have you got in the team?
Horatio: Well, I thought we'd put some of those scholarship boys in - they're pretty tough. Didn't play cricket in their old schools of course, but we can soon teach them the rudiments. All they've got to do is hit a ball and run.
Archie: Hit a ball and run? Are you mad Horatio? We'll get slaughtered certain sure. It took me ten years to learn all those positions - 'silly mid on' and so forth.
Horatio: Yes, but they don't need to know all that Archie. I bet all the paddies and dagoes and wops won't know them.
Archie: (Sighing) Oh, alright Horatio. There's one thing I'd like to ask though.
Horatio: What's that Archie.
Archie: Do Papists - you know - do things with candles?
Horatio: (Sighing) I don't know Archie. Maybe we'll find out when we go to St. Lobstinatius.
Starts pacing up and down.
Anyway, there's something else I've got to do before that.
Archie: What's that Horatio?
Horatio: I've got to attend a fancy dress dinner tomorrow at Dreadnought Foster's. It's going to be set in the Navy during the Napoleonic wars.
Archie: Gosh. You lucky cove. Sounds fun. I've heard he's got a great chef too. It'll be better than mutton and weevily biscuits.
Horatio: What if they ask me to carve though?
Archie: I doubt they'd risk you ruining their dinner. Anyway, venison is thick, mutton is medium and beef is thin. (Mischievously) And dried salt beef is a kind of chopping motion.
Horatio: You'd be much better at this than me Archie. I'm not very good at stories, anecdotes and the like. Whereas you never stop talking. Archie - Why would they have dried salt beef?
Archie: (Laughs) You said you were going to be in the Navy didn't you? Well, that's what they ate. They had limes too but I don't suppose you'll have to chop those.
Horatio: Why limes Archie?
Archie: To stop them getting scurvy, when their teeth fell out. That's why Americans call us 'limies'. Horatio didn't you do all this last year in History?
Horatio: No. We did the repeal of the corn laws.
Archie: (Whistles) God bad luck, that must have been boring.
Horatio: (Sighing, pulling a face and looking at his nails) It was interminable.
Fifth Form dormitory midnight.
Horatio: Archie, Archie, wake up!
Archie: (Muttering in his sleep) I won't go back to the Indefatigable and do not ask me to.
Archie: (Still muttering) Nothing left remarkable under the visiting moon.
Horatio: (Pulling Archie out of bed) You're going to wake up and you're going to listen to me.
Archie: Horatio! Why are you shouting at me?
Horatio: The school's on fire Archie.
Horatio: (Laughing) That woke you up! Can you see a fire engine?
Archie: (Grumpily and almost threateningly - well, he is half asleep) No but I can see who's woken me up.
Horatio: (In a jolly good mood) I've smuggled out some real food Archie - ham and eggs and three trout - and I thought we could have a feast. Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd are in the refectory with suspected measles. This meal could be their last for a while under matron's tender care. I gave them my word I'd smuggle something in to them.
Archie: (Still bleary-eyed but brightening up considerably) Well Horatio, if you've given your word, that holds good for me!
Horatio: Well lads, does real food taste how you remember?
Styles: (Mouth full of ham, eggs and trout). Yer it doooos. Let us pray
Horatio: Oh no, we forgot to say grace!
Styles: (With a twinkle in his eye) Tha' we remain in the infirmary for the rest of oour lives.
Horatio (Glancing into Matron's office) Is that Professor Pellew with Matron?
Archie: Gosh! And they're eating weevily biscuits!
Styles: I wouldn' worry about Pellew lads. He'll be busy
for an hour or two.
Leery laughter from Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd.
Archie: (Hurriedly trying to change the subject) Horatio. How did you get on at the dinner?
Horatio: Well Archie. (Accusingly) They didn't have venison, mutton, or beef.
Archie: Well what did they have then?
Horatio: It was a disgusting little pig thing.
Archie: Gosh! How did you carve that?
Horatio: Well, I sort of stabbed it and it made a hissing noise.
Archie: How horrible!
Horatio: And this 'duchess' (Professor Foster's niece) said
"You don' 'av to kill i' again Mr. 'Ornblower. It's soofered enoough!"
Archie: That's quite a good line actually. But why was she talking like that? I thought she was supposed to be a Duchess.
Horatio: Well apparently it was part of her character. Her father was supposed to have been a mill owner up north somewhere. She'd been keeping 'pesky Florentinos' in order when the French marched in and she escaped to Gibraltar.
Archie: What, where the apes are?
Horatio: Mmm. There's a British base there, right next to the dagoes.
Archie: 'A cruel hand dealt by the Almighty to set a Spanish anchorage off Gibraltar'.
Horatio: Is that Shakespeare Archie?
Archie: No Horatio. Someone said it, but I can't remember who it was. Perhaps it was Mr. Bowles, the Geography teacher.
Horatio: Mmm. Well anyway, I suppose it is their country. Might be funny if the Isle of Wight was Spanish. But then they just can't run things like we Brits. Well anyway, the 'duchess' kept giving me funny looks and saying very strange things.
Archie: What do you mean?
Horatio: (Looking very puzzled) Apparently her friends said she'd caught the Duke's eye because her father was a mill owner, but her enemies said she caught something else. We all laughed - especially Professor Pellew - but I didn't understand the joke.
Archie: (Looking equally puzzled) Perhaps we'll ask Mr. Bracegirdle. He likes chatting to Fifth Formers.
Horatio and Archie suddenly realise that Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd are killing themselves laughing. They haughtily ignore them.
Horatio: Then she said a very strange thing.
Archie: What was that Horatio?
Horatio: She said I was going to take her back to England and could she have my cabin.
Archie: That was a bit cheeky.
Horatio: Mmm. But later on when Professor Foster couldn't hear, she said she wanted me still in it.
Archie: Gosh! You would have been squashed!
Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd have now fallen out of bed laughing and are writhing on the floor clutching their stomachs.
Horatio: (In alarm, trying to be quiet but not succeeding) Quietly now! Get back into bed! And look as if you've been cleaning your teeth, not firing off with them!
He and Archie quickly hide under beds.
Pellew comes striding out of Matron's office bawling:
Pellew: S I L E N C E ! I shouldn't have to talk to you lower school boys. I never talk to you lower school boys. I've got Prefects for that!
Matthews, Styles, Oldroyd.
Yes Sir. No Sir. Sorry Sir.
Styles: (Whispering) Three bags full Sir.
Matthews: Shuuuut it Styles!
A few minutes elapse. Horatio and Archie slide back out from under the beds. Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd are still desperately trying to stifle giggles.
Horatio: Matthews, you've got a bit more sense than the other two. Can't you keep them in order - quietly.
Horatio: Oh God. We'll have the Captain - I mean Professor Pellew - down round our ears again.
Styles: No' 'im. E's too busy trying to figure out how to board
Matthews: (Hissing) SHUUUT IT STYLES!
Horatio: If you lot can't behave, I'll take the food away and Kennedy and I will eat it ourselves. I'm not risking your rear end or mine on folly!
Oldroyd: (Abashed but sulky) Alright Sir!
Horatio: Now where was I? Oh yes. Then this 'Duchess' says she's no duchess really, but an actress and she wants to teach me some anecdotes and take me on a walk to her room.
Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd look set to explode again. Horatio glowers at them.
Archie: Did you Horatio?
Horatio: Did I what Archie?
Archie: Go to her room?
Horatio: Well, hang on Archie, I haven't got to that bit yet. Professor Pellew and Professor Foster started arguing. You know how they hate each other.
Horatio: Professor Foster was saying he'd made a plan to hijack a Harrods food van. You know, those green ones with gold lettering on the side.
Horatio: Professor Pellew said Harrods only had ponsey food, he wouldn't feed such rubbish to his boys in Indefatigable and he wouldn't risk them getting food poisoning.
Archie: (Very disappointed) Oh dear!
Horatio: So Professor Foster said that Professor Pellew was scared to hijack the van. Mr. Bracegirdle dropped his knife.
Archie: Gosh. What did Professor Pellew say?
Horatio: He said it was neither the time or place to discuss victualling tactics.
Archie: I don't blame him.
Horatio: Well yes, but the thing was, Professor Foster turned to me and asked me what I thought. I'd been very quiet up to then of course, because Midshipmen weren't allowed to talk, unless spoken to.
Archie: Well. What did you say?
Horatio: I said I would be pleased if Harrods were deprived of some of their supplies.
Archie: Too true!
Horatio: Yes. But Professor Foster said he fancied I go far and Professor Pellew was really cross. He stood up and everyone stopped eating.
Archie: That was awkward.
Horatio: Mmm. But in the confusion I managed to put a lot of the food into this huge hat thing I'd been given.
Archie: Quick thinking Horatio!
Horatio: (Brightly) I'm famous for it Archie!
Archie: But what about the 'Duchess'?
Horatio: Well that was odd Archie. She said she had some dispatches for me and they were in her room.
Archie: So did you follow her there?
Archie: Where were the dispatches?
Horatio: (Whispering, so the Third Formers can't hear) At the top of her stockings.
They've heard anyway of course and there's explosive giggling under the bed covers.
Archie: She didn't ask you to take them out did she?
Horatio: Well we didn't get that far. (More explosive giggling.) There was a knock on the door.
Archie: Who was it Horatio?
Horatio: Well, it was that oily French teacher, M. de Vergesse. You know, the one who's always giving me detentions because I get my verb endings muddled up and say 'plaijir' instead of 'plaisir'.
Archie: Gosh. That was awkward!
Horatio: It certainly was. He looked very taken aback.
Archie: What did the 'Duchess' do?
Horatio: Well, she told me to 'follow her lead' and she started to say nice things to him.
Archie: What sort of things Horatio?
Horatio: Well, she said it was nice to see a man at last. She said it was terrible in that school surrounded by old aristocrats and callow youths.
Archie: That was a bit rude. Then what?
Horatio: She got him to sit onto the bed next to her and then she asked me if I was still there.
Archie: Wow! But what about the dispatches?
Horatio: Well apparently they were very important to the School Bursor, Jarvis.
Archie: Good lord! Maybe Dreadnought have gone bankrupt!
Horatio: Anyway, I got hold of the things in the end.
Archie: (Holding his breath for England) How did you do that Horatio?
Horatio: Well, I went out of the door, pulling a face.
Horatio: And I waited about - er - fifteen minutes.
Dangerous explosions under Third Form bed covers.
Horatio: And then I rushed in shouting 'FIRE! FIRE! in the French Faculty!'. De Vergesse went rushing out of course. The dispatches were on the table and I grabbed them and ran.
Oldroyd: (All very disappointed at the anti-climax) Ooooh!
Horatio: Well, what did you all expect? I'm too young to fire off the contents of my fountain pen! [Can I keep that in? It could have been much worse]
Next day. It's been decided that Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd do not have measles. Horatio and Archie are surrounded by the Scholarship boys on the cricket pitch.
Horatio: Right boys. Has anyone here ever played cricket?
Styles: We played rounders Sir, with the girls, is tha' owt like i'?
Horatio: Well Styles. You have a ball and you have to run. But you don't run right round the field. You run up and down between the stumps.
Oldroyd: We used ter play 'kiss chase' at Broomfield Sir. Lo's of running in tha'. Some of them girls was real fas' runners.
Horatio: That's enough Oldroyd.
Archie: What did he say Horatio?
Horatio: (Sighing) Right boys. These are stumps and this is a bale. You put three stumps in the ground with two bales on top. A person from the other team throws you a ball and you hit it with the bat. If the ball hits off a bale, you're out and everyone shouts 'Howz'at!' Got it?
The other team have fielders. If you hit the ball and they catch it you're out and everyone shouts 'Howz'at!' O.K. so far?
More puzzled looks.
Horatio But you can hit the ball and decide not to run, because the fielders can hit the stumps before you reach them and call you out. Then they'd shout 'Howzat!' If you hit it over the boundary (a line going round the edge of the field), that's a six and you don't have to run either.
Matthews: (Looking puzzled) I think the lads is wond'ring Sir. Doo you ever 'ave to ruun?
Horatio Well yes Matthews of course you do. But not all the time.
Styles: That's because you've go' all that bloody ponsey gear on, isn' i' Sir? You'd get too bloody 'ho' to do muuch ruunnin'.
Matthews: Sir, I think the lads was also wond'ring what 'Howzat!' means?
Horatio: Well, it means 'How's that!'. You know 'didn't we do well!'
The scholarship boys look at each other in amazement.
Oldroyd: But Sir, they's toffs ain't they wha' play cricke'. Don' they know 'ow to speak proper.
Horatio: Well Oldroyd. I suppose they get excited.
An astounded pause.
Yes well, I think it'd be best if we just had a go. Line up back there and Kennedy will throw you some balls. He's called the bowler. He'll throw them nice and slowly to start with.
Everyone gets a practice go.
Styles gets hit on the shin with a ball.
Styles: (Hopping about, moaning) Oww! Them balls is bloody 'ard.
Archie: Watch it Styles! Any damage to that ball comes out of your tuck-box money.
Oldroyd runs up to Horatio.
Oldroyd Sir. Why does Kennedy keep rubbin' the bleedin' ball?
Horatio: Well Oldroyd. Bowlers think that makes the ball go faster.
Oldroyd: Yes, but Sir. Why does 'e 'av to keep rubbin' it there.
Archie: What did he say Horatio?
Horatio: (Coughing) Never mind Archie. I think that's enough
Oldroyd: Pick up those stumps!
Matthews: Put the balls away in the box!
Styles: Stop jumping up and down and collect the bats!
Two weeks later. Hornblower is about to load up his team, but first of all he gives them a pep-talk. The scholarship boys have borrowed cricket whites of varying sizes.
Hornblower: Now listen everyone. I'm your Captain for today and I want excellent behaviour at St. Lobstinatius. The honour of King George and Indefatigable House depends on you. Remember that cricket is only a game. Obviously we want to win, but what's really important is how you play the game.
Simpson: (Through gritted teeth) What a load of tosh Hornblower.
Hornblower ignores him.
Hornblower: Now any questions before we set off.
Styles: (Putting up his hand) Yes Sir.
Styles: Will the Papists speak English Sir?
Hornblower: Yes of course they will Styles. Some of them might have Irish accents.
Oldroyd: Blimey, accen's. 'Ow we sposed to understand 'em then?
Archie: What did he say Horatio?
Hornblower: (Sighing) Any more questions?
Styles: How're we all gooin' to fit into't' milk floa' Sir.
Hornblower: We'll have to squash up Styles.
Styles: (Muttering) Don' know why we couldn' 'av the coach.
Hornblower: It might have escaped your memory Styles, but the coach got blown up.
Styles: Well Sir. Thoose bloody Papists coould've sent round a cooach.
Hornblower: A minute ago Styles you didn't think they could speak English. Now you expect them to send a coach for you. Decided they're alright after all have you?
Matthews: Shuut it Styles!
Hornblower: Anyway, we were damned lucky to be able to cut out that milk float from the Reve dairy in Barnet. We have Oldroyd to thank for getting it started of course. Pity though he drove it into a nest of police cars.
Oldroyd: But Sir, Kennedy said to turn righ' when 'e mean' lef'.
Kennedy: Yes well. It was a bit foggy and I was trying to avoid Barnet Hill.
Oldroyd: Ace idea of yours though Sir to nick that copper's uniform and preten' to arrest us.
Hornblower: (On his high horse - you know how he gets sometimes) I didn't 'nick' it Oldroyd. I commandeered it and returned it with a thank-you note and a map of where they could find the constable.
Styles: (Grumbling) Still 'ad to deliver all them bloody milk bo'les though.
Kennedy: Yes. And you managed to drop a gold top on my foot Styles. I still haven't got the smell off. From star Fifth Former to dairy maid in one quick step - my school career's really looking up! But Horatio, why couldn't we just dump the gold tops instead of delivering them?
Hornblower: We had to give the customers their gold tops Archie. They were theirs by right [boom, boom - I'm rather proud of that one!]
Right now, enough of all that. Any more questions? Last one.
Matthews: Some of the lads was askin' Sir. (Looks embarrassed) Is it true that Papists do things with candles?
Hornblower: Oh for pity's sake. WILL ANYONE EVER SPEAK ANY SENSE AROUND HERE! (Calming down a little) Everyone on the float now!
The cricket pitch at St. Lobstinatius.
Horatio: (Whispers) Well Archie, what does it feel like to be on Papist territory?
Archie: (Looking very gung-ho) Better with a cricket bat in hand Horatio.
The two Captains introduce themselves.
Edrington: Lloyd Edrington, St. Lobstinatius Roman Catholic College, Fisher House.
Hornblower: Horatio Hornblower, King George's Church of England
College, Indefatigable House.
Shall we spin a coin to see who bats first?
Edrington: No. We always let visiting schools decide. Your lot look a bit - um - disorganised. And your boys smell a little - er - strange.
Archie: (Standing next to Horatio) Your boys look very fine Edrington. Almost too good to play sport. Why are they wearing red belts?
Edrington: It's Fisher House colour. I usually find the better turned-out the boys, the better they play. In our school anyway.
The King George scholarship boys have heard this, and mutter angrily amongst themselves.
Archie: (Quietly to Horatio) There Horatio, if your parents could have afforded red belts as well as black blazers you could have joined St. Lobstinatius.
Hornblower: (Fearing a riot) Well, we're ready to start Edrington.
Tea-time in the pavilion after two hours of play.
Edrington: Have your boys played cricket before Hornblower? Do they know they're supposed to catch the ball, not duck when it comes near them. We could have fought them off with my mama's parasol.
Oldroyd: D'you wan' me to sock im one in the jaw Sir?
Hornblower: No Oldroyd thank you. That won't be necessary.
Edrington: What was that boy saying? I can't understand a word he says. Is he foreign?
Hornblower: No Edrington. He gets a bit over-excited, but he's a good batsman.
Someone comes and whispers in Edrington's ear.
Edrington: Good Lord O'Reilly are you sure? Hornblower, one of your chaps has been caught eating all the biscuits!
One of the St. Lobinatius boys comes up, pushing a King George's scholarship boy in front of him.
Hornblower: Good lord! Bunting. What the hell have you been up to!
Bunting: I' ain' fair Sir. They've go' real 'untley and Parmer biscuits 'ere - wivout weevils in. I'M 'UNGRY.
Hornblower: (Closing his eyes) Sometimes I despair Bunting, I really do.
Edrington: Well Hornblower, it doesn't matter you know. Don't they feed your boys over at King George's? Perhaps we could send over some supplies?
Bunting brightens up.
Hornblower: (Coughs) That's a very kind offer Edrington, but I assure you that won't be necessary.
Hornblower gets up, grabs Bunting by the arm and frogmarches [sorry, no pun intended] him into a cupboard. He looks round.
Hornblower: Well Bunting, is this what you had in mind when you were gorging yourself?
Bunting: But Sir, i' ain' fair at King George's. I ain' playing ruddy cricke' for 'em no more. We're kep' on 'arf rations to keep them teachers in their kingly ways.
Hornblower: Who told you that Bunting?
Bunting: I've 'erd it 'ere and there.
Hornblower: Oh, very convenient.
Bunting: You can' push me aroun' Sir. You're shor' of fielders an' you need my 'elp.
Hornblower: (Putting his face right up to Bunting's) No Bunting. It's you who need my help. If you go out on that field I'll speak up for you to Pellew. Otherwise you can forget about sitting down for a month.
No answer. Hornblower starts to walk away.
Bunting: (The threat begins to sink in) Alright Sir.
Hornblower: You cross me Bunting and you will regret it!
Hornblower returns to Edrington with a real glower on his face.
[He can really put them on at times. Wait till you get to Book 3.]
Edrington looks sympathetic.
Edrington: Bit of a handful those scholarship boys aren't they? We have some ourselves. No moral fibre.
Hornblower: (Throwing a bit of a paddy here I'm afraid - not
literally of course)
Edrington: Now look here Hornblower. I like to see fair play and I like the cut of your jib. Your boys are never going to get us out at this rate. That spin bowler you have, Kennedy is it? Yes, well, he's good, but he's beginning to look exhausted. He can't hold the wicket all by himself. You know how we had to stop him in the end from throwing balls to his own fielders instead of to the batsmen. You had to shout at him pretty sharpish over that. How about if we let your lot go into bat after tea?
Hornblower: (Brightening up) Well, thank you Edrington. I accept your offer. Today the luck certainly seems to be with you.
Suddenly there's a commotion around the tea urn. A big, fat boy is shouting at St. Lobstinatius' assistante who has been helping out.
Moncoutant: You stupid peasant girl. You've spilt tea down my white trousers.
Mariette: O pardon monsieur. I deed not see yoo.
Hornblower, appalled at his rudeness, crosses the room to the tea urn.
Moncoutant: You idiot peasant girl. It was to avoid the likes of you that my family left France 150 years ago.
Hornblower: How dare you speak so rudely to a young lady!
Moncoutant: A young what?. She is no lady. Her father works on a farm in Normandy. She is a peasant and should be treated like an animal in the field.
Hornblower: If you were a gentleman sir, you would treat all women like ladies.
Moncoutant: Edrington, who is this boy? He seems to have republican sympathies.
Edrington: (Sighs) Really Moncoutant. Can't you let it drop after 150 years? Oliver Cromwell confiscated all my family's land during the English Civil War, but we don't bleat on about it. Mariette is a highly educated girl. She speaks better English than you do French anyway.
Moncoutant: (To Hornblower and Edrington) Once to amuse myself in the school holidays I taught my horse to count to ten. Did that make my horse a scholar?
Horatio makes a move towards him, but Edrington blocks him.
Edrington: Well obviously Moncoutant you have thought about these things more than I. But I thank God every day for my birth, because I know I would have made a miserable peasant!
Edrington moves Moncoutant away. Horatio and Mariette are left together.
Mariette: Zank yoo foor defending me. Ee ees a peeg, non?
Horatio: (Staring into her eyes) H-he c-certainly is Mademoiselle.
(To himself: Oh God. I've not stammered since Page 1.)
Styles: Goood-loookin' ain' she Sir. Nice dress.
Horatio: GET BACK ONTO THE PITCH! Where's Kennedy?
Styles: I think 'e's 'aving a nap soomwhere Sir. 'E were duun in like."
Horatio: O.K. Styles. I'll go and find him.
Mariette: (To herself, watching Horatio as he goes out) Mon
Dieu, comme il est beau! (sighs)
[Get in line girl]
Back on the pitch. Moncoutant is bowling. Unfortunately he is purposely aiming for the batsmen's heads and there have been quite a few casualties. Edrington and Hornblower meet to discuss the situation.
Edrington: I'll pull him out Hornblower. I fear he has his own agenda.
Hornblower: (Sighs with a beautiful hand gesture) Yes, it's butchery.
Edrington: Perhaps you could defend your wicket with that older looking boy while I get some substitutes for you. Not quite in the rules. But I think we have to look to ourselves for command.
Hornblower: Thank you Edrington. That's very fair.
Simpson - go into bat!
Simpson: O.K. Snotty. Have you wondered what's become of that little friend of yours with the blond mop?
Hornblower: Archie. What have you ..
Simpson: Not now Snotty. Honour of the school and all that.
Simpson deliberately bats the ball into the groins of the bowlers, and now they begin to fall like nine-pins.
Play is suspended and the two Captains meet again.
Edrington: You know Hornblower, this is turning into a very ill-fated cricket match. I think we're well done with it.
Hornblower: Yes Edrington. Well done indeed. I don't think either of us can defend this wicket any more.
Suddenly Archie appears from nowhere and flies into Horatio, knocking him down. Simpson has been about to bash him on the head with a cricket bat.
Horatio: (Picking himself up gingerly)
Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd - take Simpson and lock him in the toilets!
Simpson: I'm in charge here. Any boy who disobeys me will regret it.
Horatio: Do what I say boys.
They put Simpson in an arm lock and march him away.
Horatio: Archie - where have you been?
Archie: That bastard Simpson locked me in a cupboard. I've been in there an hour. It was horrible. (Sob) I couldn't stand up or lie down and it was very dark.
Horatio: Well, Archie you saved my life. I said I couldn't survive without you today! Who let you out of the cupboard?
Archie: Mariette. She heard me shouting. She did a funny thing then though.
Hornblower: What do you mean Archie?
Archie: Well, she came into the cupboard with me and started kissing me. You know, like at the cinema.
Edrington looks at Hornblower in alarm.
Edrington: Quick Kennedy, catch him! I think he's going to fall!
Back in the pavilion. Archie's holding Horatio who is being sick into a bucket.
Archie: Horatio please. You didn't know her that well. We've got to get the boys back to school and we've lost Bunting. Anyway I didn't kiss her back. We haven't got up to that in Sex Ed. yet. She seemed to be further on than me.
Edrington: (With a knowing look) Yes, she's a highly educated girl.
Horatio: (Half delirious) I should have got you out of the cupboard Archie. We go when I say, and we go together. Got to get Bunting back. Where are my books for the examination?
Edrington: (Showing great tact) Look after him Kennedy. He's got a lot to learn about women.
Archie: Yes of course I will. (Pause). Edrington, could I ask you a question?
Edrington: Of course old boy.
Archie: What is it you Papists do with candles?
That evening, Professor Pellew's office.
Hornblower: Sir, I have to report the loss of six boys, one deserter, two bats and three balls from the school's company.
Pellew: (Angrily) Not to mention the cricket match Hornblower.
Hornblower: No Sir.
Pellew: When a school gets a bad report Hornblower, the Headmaster has to justify his actions to the school governors, whatever the circumstarnces. Do I make myself clear?
Hornblower: Yes Sir.
Pellew: Well boy, well?
Hornblower: I have nothing to say Sir. The six boys are in hospital, the deserter deserted, the two bats and the three balls were lost, and the cricket match ..
Pellew: A failure then, like this whole miserable affair.
Hornblower looks up at him.
Pellew: Yes Hornblower. I blame myself. I should have persuaded Headmaster Hood that we needed more time and some proper coaching.
Hornblower: (Starting to cry) What were we doing there Sir?
Pellew closes his eyes.
Hornblower: We brought only defeat, disillusionment and desertion. (Sob and sniff) Sorry Sir.
Pellew: (Gently) It's alright Hornblower. Look at your new uneeform - not what we've come to expect from you is it?
Hornblower: (Trying to cheer up and wiping his nose with his hand) No Sir.
Pellew: When you put on this uneeform Hornblower you put on duties and responsibilities. To your country, to your school but most of all to the other boys. You must always be a source of inspiration to them Hornblower whatever may befall you.
Hornblower: Yes Sir. But I couldn't persuade Bunting to come back with us Sir - it was the Huntley and Parmer biscuits Sir.
Pellew: (Sighing) Well Hornblower. Some boys cast themselves adrift. And it doesn't do to dwell on the past. I think you've learnt something about the bitter brew that is a Prefect's life.
Hornblower: Yes, but I couldn't find a way to get through to the boy. Maybe I'm not fit to be a Prefect Sir.
Pellew: Nonsense. Anyway you've got a lot to think about. You start your Leaving Certificate exams next week.
Hornblower: (Surprised) Gosh, yes Sir. I'd forgotten Sir.
Pellew: (Coughs) And about this Simpson affair.
Hornblower: Yes Sir?
Pellew: Not the right sort at all for this school. Or the armed forces. I've suggested to his father he might go into the Diplomatic Corps. We have an old boy in the Berlin Embassy, Tapling. He could arrange for Simpson to do a cultural exchange and work in the Third Reich for a while. That would get rid of - um - suit him very well I'm sure.
Hornblower: He'd get on very well with the Nazis Sir.
Pellew: Yes, quite. (Looking at him closely) It's good to have you back Hornblower.
Hornblower: (Managing a brave smile) It's good to be back
(Hesitating) Aren't you going to - er - punish me Sir for losing the cricket match and
Pellew: (Interruping him) Certainly not Hornblower. What would that achieve? Anyway, I have a letter here from that chap Edrington. He wanted to make sure I comprehended the - er - circumstarnces. He seems a good chap. He said he'd lend us their cricket coach once a week and send us a supply of Huntley and Parmer biscuits. He said they're giving Bunting counselling. What's that Hornblower?
Hornblower: I have no idea Sir. Perhaps it's got something to do with candles.
Pellew: He also said you might have left something in the toilets but he'd leave that up to you.
Hornblower: Really Sir? I can't think what he means.
Pellew: Anyway, although he's exonerated you, I think there is something you could do for me.
Hornblower: (Looking a bit concerned) What would that be Sir?
Pellew: I'd like you to write an essay entitled: "Give reasoned arguments, in not less than 1000 words, discussing why I won't get my hair cut."
Hornblower: (Smiling sheepishly) Yes Sir. 1000 words though Sir?
Pellew: Yes boy. Ever written 1000 words?
Hornblower: No Sir. Not even 100!
Next morning. Hornblower, Kennedy, Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd are on the top of the school roof. Horatio and Archie are friends again. Suddenly a thought occurs to Horatio.
Horatio: Styles. Did we bring Simpson home with us?
Styles: Woops! 'E mus' still be in that toile' a' St. Lobstinatius.
Horatio: Oh God - that's what Edrington meant!
Archie: Well I for one am glad of it and the air smells all the better for it.
Oldroyd: 'E's a real dodgy geezer that Simpson. An' believe me, I've seen a few roun' Wappin'.
Matthews: (To Hornblower) Sir. The lads an' me was wondrin'
Horatio: (Warily) Yes Matthews.
Matthews: Well Sir. I' seems to uus tha' we're always ge'in' you and Kennedy ou' of scrapes and shouldn' i' be t'other way roun' Sir?
Horatio: Well perhaps Matthews. But you've got to remember that's how the class system works. Kennedy and I are public school twi - boys - you see and we expect the working classes to bail us out from time to time. Then when there's a war we get to shout orders and you get to run around doing all the work. It's quite simple really.
Matthews: (More puzzled than ever) Oh I see Sir.
Horatio: But whoever we are, we have terrible school food. That's because we're an island you see.
Horatio: Well, although we're on a big (debatable), damp, foggy island nor' nor' east of Ushant everyone else in the world seems to want it.
Horatio: So we're always going to war to keep it.
Horatio: So we get blockaded. We can't get enough food in. That's why we've got the best Navy in the world.
Horatio: (Sighing) Well, isn't it obvious? I thought you were supposed to be scholarship boys.
Oldroyd: Yes Sir. No Sir.
Horatio: School food has to be terrible so that when the government introduces rationing, no-one notices the difference because we've all been on half rations anyway.
Oldroyd: (Light bulb clicks on) Oh, we see Sir!
Horatio breathes in the morning air happily. Then he suddenly goes pale.
Horatio: Archie. What the hell am I doing up here? Aren't I afraid of heights?
Archie: Well yes Horatio, but if you want to be a fighter pilot and clobber the Gerries you'll have to get over it.
Horatio: I don't know Archie. Maybe I'll go in the Navy.
Archie: What! With your stomach? I don't think so. Anyway, before we think about that, we've got to pass our Leaving Certs.
Horatio: Oh God. I keep forgetting about that.
Horatio: Archie - that Librarian chappy - Forester- he's a strange cove.
Archie: Why Horatio? He hardly notices me. He did ask me once though if I'd had dancing lessons.
Horatio: Well Archie. It's as if he knows everything I do or I'm going to do. He gets very cross about it. Something about his estate. First of all he asked me if I was a Grecian. Do I look Greek Archie?
Archie: I don't know Horatio. I don't know any Greeks. I know about a few ancient ones though - like Xenophon.
Horatio: Yes he mentioned him! He asked if I could construe him. What does that mean Archie?
Archie: I think it's got something to do with grammar Horatio.
Horatio: Oh God! I'm not very good at that! He keeps saying I should go into the Navy next year and that my father's a country doctor. He isn't of course - he'd never be able to afford these fees. He's always muttering that I've got the wrong best friend too - that's really annoying. And every time I see him, he goes on about my hair.
Archie: Your hair?
Horatio: Yes, he says I mustn't get it cut.
Archie: That's novel! [boom boom]
Archie: Yes Horatio?
Horatio: That Edrington, he was a good chap wasn't he - for a Papist.
Archie: He was the best Horatio.
Horatio: Perhaps they're just like us really.
Archie: Of course they are Horatio. "All the world's a stage" - we're all the same deep down.
He did say that some WASPS could sting though.
Horatio: What are WASPS Archie?
Archie: He said they're "White Anglo-Saxon Protestants" Horatio.
Horatio: Gosh. That's us then.
Archie: 'Fraid so Horatio.
Horatio: Though you're a bit Scottish, aren't you Archie?
Archie: Don't know. Do they have any tube lines in Scotland?
Oh well, at least we're not WELSH. What are they for Horatio?
Horatio: (Airily) No idea Archie. Although I hear they've got
some good actors.
(Changing the subject) Did you know we've got a new Housemaster next term? Professor Pellew is becoming a School Inspector.
Archie: No Horatio! What's his name?
Horatio: Sawyer I think.
Archie: I think I've heard of him. He was a Housemaster at Eaton with Headmaster Nelson.
Horatio: Gosh! We're lucky to get him then.
Archie: Mmm. We'll see. I've heard they're tough at Eton though. Pellew's an old pussy cat really. Although he does have - er - (looking at Horatio closely) favourites. The only time he's ever spoken to me was when we were going to the cricket match.
Horatio: Oh really? What did he say?
Archie: I asked him if there was going to be a series of matches. And he said (very impatiently I thought) 'Kennedy, one match hardly makes a series.' Still, at least he knew my name.
Horatio: Mmm. This Sawyer though. He must be good if he was a Housemaster with Headmaster Nelson. He must have earned his place in academic history.
Archie: It's not history that concerns me Horatio. It's the future. (Looking very pensive) It's far more uncertain. Funny to think we'll be Sixth Formers then.
Horatio: Oh well, at least I won't have to wear this cap any more. It's really difficult with my curly hair.
(To Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd) There's going to be a new boy in your year. His name's Wellard. He hasn't got any friends or family, so you have to look after him - O.K.?
Oldroyd: (Not very enthusiastically) Yes Sir.
Horatio: Especially you Matthews. No hitting him, alright?
Matthews: (Looking hurt) Why me Sir?
Horatio: I don't know Matthews, I just have a feeling about it.
Archie: Yes Horatio?
Horatio: That Edrington. You seemed to have quite a chat with him while I was - um - being ill.
Archie: Yes I did Horatio.
Horatio: Well Archie. Did he ever tell you what Papists did with candles?
Archie: Well no Horatio. He looked a bit puzzled actually. He did ask me a question though.
Horatio: What was that Archie?
Archie: He asked me if it was true that Prodies (that's what they call us Protestants Horatio), if it was true that Prodies ..
Horatio: What Archie?
Archie: (Obviously embarrassed but taking a deep breath) He asked me if it was true that Prodies (he whispers in Horatio's ear)
Horatio: B LO O D Y H E L L!
TO BE CONTINUED
[Probably in the next misspent school hols when I should be doing lesson plans].