Pass the Pen

Part Four - Consequences
by Roz Wyatt-Millington

 

**And illuminating the form of Jack Simpson, lying on the deck.

Lying VERY still. **

"Archie - what have you done?"

"Nothing more than was deserved. I don't believe he ever had amnesia - it was just all a cover. The minute he got me alone - he tried his old tricks again, Horatio. But I am stronger now, thanks in part to you, and there was no way I was going to let him have me again. I think I surprised him."

"That is as maybe Archie - but you have nigh on killed him. This has to be reported to the captain, and what he will make of it I do not know. You realise that it is my duty to put you under arrest - for attempted murder. The only defence you are going to have is what happened to you in the past - and it will be your word against his. What were you thinking of Archie?"

"That I wasn't go to be broken again Horatio. But you are right - what am I going to do now?"

"Now, Mr Kennedy...now you and I are going to go to the Captain's cabin. Matthews, Styles - take Mr. Simpson to the sickbay. Tell the doctor that we found him like this in the hold. Don't say anything about what Mr. Kennedy has said. The captain must be informed first."

"Aye, aye sir" came the chorus from Matthews and Styles. They came further into the hold, and gently lifted the limp body of Simpson between them, carrying it off towards sickbay.

Hornblower turned to Kennedy. "Come on Archie. We must go to the captain - he will have to decide what to do with you. I don't know whether you should pray that Simpson recovers, or that he doesn't. If he doesn't then he cannot accuse you, but you could be charged with murder. You really must learn, if you survive this, to think before you act Archie. Let's go."

"Aye, aye, sir" came the slightly sarcastic reply.

Hornblower sighed, then turned and went back through the hold to the ladder to the upper decks, not looking back, trusting that Kennedy would be following. Kennedy took one further look round the hold, sighed and followed.

*********************************************
The two seamen paused for a rest partway to sickbay, in the deserted mess deck...

"Ohff...this bastard is heavy Matt'y. Y'know, Mr. Kennedy has done us all a service. Simpson was nasty piece o'work. And Mr. Hornblower wasn't correct when he said it would be Mr. Kennedy's word alone - I could tell them some things about this guy." In his thoughts, Styles continued, 'What he forced me to do to cover up his 'activities' with Mr. Kennedy for one - I took the young lad to the sickbay after the first time - and Dr. Hepplethwaite did nothing. He should have reported it to the captain - it was not my place to.'*

"I know that Styles, and so could I - but hush now - we do not know who is listening. Remember that we, and the officers found Mr. Simpson in the hold like this."

"Aye Matt'y I know. Those lads deserve better than this bastard. Y'know it would be easy enough to finish the job..."

"No Styles. Don't even consider it. Mr. Hornblower would know what happened -- he's quick that lad is."

"Alright then -- but it would still be easy - and better for Mr. Kennedy to. I don't want that lad harmed - he's been through enough."

"No argument from me. He's a good lad - and his friendship with Mr. Hornblower will only help him. Mr. Hornblower's that officer in one thousand - like the cap'n. They both speak to you as though you are their equals - and they both plan well. Remember the look on that French cap'ns face when Mr. Hornblower dropped the compass over the side."

"I do Matt'y. But I doesn't know if even he can get Mr. Kennedy out of this - I still say it would be better if this bastard never wakes up to accuse Mr. Kennedy."

"No Styles -- come on let's get him to sickbay."

They picked up the limp body and continued on their way.

****************************************************
Meanwhile the two young men were rapidly approaching Captain Pellew's cabin, but neither knew what to say -- to each other or to the captain. Both were lost in they own thoughts.

Horatio: 'Why did this have to happen now. I am between a rock and a hard place on this. I know ... or rather I suspect what Simpson did to Archie while they were on Renown. Archie lived for several years with the vicious nature of the man. I have no way of really knowing what happened. But I still have my suspicions ... and I think that Styles and Matthews may know more than they are telling. I sometimes see a story in their eyes when they look at Archie - and I know there was something when he had that fit in the boat just before we attacked Papillion. I just hope that the captain has seen the same things as I have, and has drawn the same conclusions about Mr. Simpson. But I wander - Simpson distinguished himself on-board Papillion - even if he was not in his normal state of mind at the time. I know that, Archie knows that, heck even Matthews and Styles know that - but does Captain Pellew? He hardly met the man before all of this happened.

I feel guilty over what has happened - I should have realised something was up, and kept a closer eye on Archie - or asked one of my division to do so. They were Simpson's division originally, so know what he is like. I should not have trusted that Simpson's amnesia was real - I could have guessed that it was feigned. After all I served with the man for a while - I know what he is capable off. And Archie was free of fits till Simpson returned - there is some connection there. My father is a doctor - how could I not realise this. And now I may get to watch my best friend hanged for attempted murder - it just depends on what the captain decides to do. On whether he believes Archie or not. And on whether Simpson survives or not - if he accuses Archie then Captain Pellew cannot ignore what has happened...'

Archie: 'Why did I never tell Horatio about what Simpson did to me. Too ashamed I suppose ... I always thought he would turn away from me if he learned truly what Simpson did to me - it is not something that is accepted. I didn't want that - he was the first person to really accept me for what I am - the younger, unwanted son of a nobleman who was sent to the Navy to keep his family from being embarrassed. Until He turned back up I was doing fine - no fits since we joined Indefatigable, and I was starting to consider myself a useful part of the crew. Indeed the crew were starting to respect me. But now - I have thrown all that away. First by the stupidity of having a fit during a silent night attack, and then by today's actions. No matter what I thought - yes it was self defence, and retaliation for past transgressions, but Simpson is still my superior - and the penalties for hitting a superior officer are well known. I don't know whether to hope for Simpson to die, or recover. If he dies, or is left unable to communicate, then at least he won't be able to speak out against me - but I can then face a charge of murder...

Oh why did I not think - scream out or something. There were other people in the hold after all. Maybe Simpson hadn't recovered all his memory... No it's not worth wasting time on maybes, and what ifs. I must think of the future - if I have one that is. I just hope Horatio doesn't blame himself for what has happened.

Actually that's probably a forlorn hope - Horatio will find a way to blame himself for everything that happens - even when there was no way he could prevent it. It's the captain I fear - he's only seen the mask Simpson presents to the outside world - why should he take my word over that of my superior officer. Simpson always got things done - it was just in navigation he failed. Mind you, the state of his division when we came on board may have told the captain something.

I just hope that the captain will see to Horatio if the worst happens - I think I must be the first proper friend Horatio has ever had, and I don't care to think about how my death in disgrace will affect him. Probably make him withdraw into himself and retreat more behind that mask he presents to the world.

Each step we take is bringing me closer to my doom - we're on the gun deck now - walking aft. I can see the companionway up to the quarterdeck. Now we're past that and I can see the Marine sentry at the cabin door. Deep breaths now - no time to panic now - however much I am a little prone to panic...'

The two young men paused before the cabin door, and Hornblower then plucks up the courage to knock.

"Who is it," comes the testy reply.

'Oh no - he doesn't sound happy' thinks Archie, 'What does this bode for me? Nothing for it but to braid the lion in his den I suppose.'

"Acting Lieutenant Hornblower and Midshipman Kennedy, sir."

"Oh ... come in then. It had better be important."

Kennedy exchanged a glance with the sentry - who sent a sympathetic glance back - he'd already heard the grilling the captain had given one luckless soul.

Hornblower opened the door, to reveal Captain Pellew sat in all his splendour at his desk. Hornblower stepped inside the door - taking a deep breath Kennedy followed, shutting the door behind him. Turning he took a few paces to stand a little behind and to the right of Hornblower.

Captain Pellew glared at his two young officers stood at attention in front of him.

"Well what is so urgent that it cannot wait Mr. Hornblower? And mark me man - it had better be more important than the reports required by the Admiral at Gibraltar."

Hornblower gulped ... then took a deep breath and started, "Well, sir ... it's like this..."