Child of Sorrow
by Wendy B and Hillary Stevens

 

PART FOUR

PART FIVE

 

Hart awoke before the others, long before dawn. He blamed the early night Hornblower had demanded, blamed the strange noises of the city, though there was little traffic, blamed the smells, the sour straw ticking and whatever foul deeds previous guests had done in the room.

In truth, it was the tense knot in his stomach that stirred him to wakefulness. Today he would see the prisoner again. He could not bring himself to say the man's name, even in his thoughts. The prisoner, the murderer, the criminal. The villain in the play.

The two he saw as the heroes of the piece slept peacefully, their breathing soft and regular. Neither of the lieutenants was guilty of snoring, a pleasant change after the midshipmen's berth in Indefatigable.

Thinking of the ship reminded him of Sir Edward Pellew and his brothers, especially of Israel, whose pleasant manner and earnest entreaties he would never forget. He almost wished he could have gone to North America with him. Israel had mentioned it, but it was not possible. Hart had to stay and see this through.

He thought again of escape, but Hornblower had locked the door and had not left the key in it. He was apparently not a man to make the same mistake twice. Hart sighed, then cringed as his stomach lurched with apprehension. He understood that the argument between the two officers last night had been designed to divert his thoughts, to allow him to sleep. But he had to think of it sometime.

He decided to try, then, what Israel had said. To speak to God. He slid from the cot onto his knees and rested his head in his arms, but only disquiet came from his heart. He could not forgive God any more than he could forgive the murderer. They were equally to blame. Twice he whispered God's name, but no prayer followed it because Israel was wrong and God was not there.

He wanted a reason for it all. If anyone could explain why it had happened, he was sure he could pray. Lieutenant Kennedy came to him and offered comfort, what Israel had called the less than perfect comfort of brethren. He held Hart, who was by now weeping with the hurt of rejection, asking "Why?" He was desperate for an answer. "Can you not tell me?"

Kennedy shook his head. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "No one can."

"I must have done something. But I don't remember...I did nothing wrong! I did...nothing..." Still on his knees, he drew away from Kennedy and buried his face in the rumpled blankets of his cot.

"Hart, no!" Kennedy contradicted. "Never blame yourself. God is not punishing you."

"He must be. What other reason?" Hart asked, still weeping softly. "And I'm afraid to go. I will fail today; I know it. I shall never be able to do it."

"Oh, God," Kennedy breathed. "Horatio, are you awake?"

"Yes," he said. "I'm here."

He knelt on the opposite side of the cot, facing Hart. His touch light and his voice soft, he said, "Hart, please. I know you are afraid. I am as well. Anyone would be! But this is the last of it, and far from the worst. Think what you have done in the last weeks; today will be nothing to the rest. Nothing."

"I cannot do it," Hart said, his voice muffled in the bed cover. "I don't want to go."

"Come, let's get something inside you. Think of something else for a while," Hornblower urged. "We have plenty of time. Tea, I think, then breakfast."

They helped him stand and led him to a chair. Kennedy stoked the fire and added a measure of coal while Hornblower rang for tea and unlocked the door. The under drawer, a boy of about fifteen, knocked and handed in a steaming pot. As soon as he left, Hornblower closed the door firmly and re-locked it.

"Why should I do it?" Hart cried out suddenly. "Will it make him take it back, what he did? Will it give my father back to me? My mother? Will my sister ever dance again? Will she?"

"It is what we have," Hornblower admitted. "It is all we can do."

"He is right," Archie said, holding a cup out toward Hart. "Hanging is not justice; it's revenge."

Hart took the cup and held it with both hands, warming his fingers.

Every word they said to him exposed another raw nerve. He could not find an answer, a reason to go through with it. The beast could not undo his crime; his execution would make no difference. Even Kennedy agreed with that.

Even his father would agree. Hart tried to think what his father would say about it, what he would want. Not revenge - he was not a violent man. But he believed in the law. He believed courts were just and criminals deserving of their fate. He believed in doing the right thing, even if it was not the easy thing. Hart clenched his fist, his father's gold ring cutting into his palm. Still, he argued, doing the right thing should accomplish something. Something he could see, understand.

"What good will it do?" he asked.

"He will not do it again," Hornblower answered. "No one will have to suffer what you do today, because of him. Is that worth nothing?"

Hart had not thought of that. He had to agree.

*****

Archie went outside and returned before a half hour had passed, bringing with him the news of the world outside the small room. The streets of Truro teemed with activity, people jostling for the best vantage point from which to view the day's proceedings. Stands had been set up around the courthouse, selling food and drink to the growing crowd. News sellers were hawking badly printed broadsheets relating the gorier aspects of the crime and could not keep up the demand.

"It is a circus," Archie said quietly to Horatio as Hart finished dressing.

"We must keep him between us as we go," Horatio returned. "I have no doubt his presence here has already been made known."

"I fear for his equilibrium once he sees all of this. He is unsettled enough without being at the mercy of the crowd."

Horatio frowned as he reached for his cloak and hat. Hart turned, his face pale even in the dim light of the small room.

"Is it time, then?" he asked.

"If we are to reach the courthouse in good order, we must start walking now." Horatio hesitated then put his hand on Hart's shoulder. "Hart, Mr. Kennedy reports that the streets are full of people. You will be perfectly safe if you walk between us."

"Th-they know who I am?" Hart asked, searching his face. "Where we are?"

Archie leaned with his back against the door. "A young man with two naval officers would not go unremarked. A few coins offered for information would certainly encourage someone here at the inn to pass along such a tidbit."

Hart nodded, thinking of the boy who had shown such interest in him when he had brought their coffee. "But why? I am of no interest to anyone."

"But your story is the most excitement this place has seen in many a month," Archie reminded him. "I doubt anyone means you harm, but everyone wants to see you, perhaps even speak to you. You must ignore them all. They will shout and call your name, but you will not answer."

"As an actor in a play would," Horatio added. "Do you understand?"

Hart swallowed hard and nodded. "Yes, sir."

"We should go then."

The streets had grown more crowded in the short time since Archie's return. The roar of sound was deafening as they walked out of the inn. Horatio saw a quick, angry light in Archie's eyes as Hart was recognised and the roar became a din. Hart staggered back a step when he saw what awaited them, and Horatio quickly took his arm and steadied him. Hart nodded his thanks as they started up the street.

The press of people was so thick that they were forced to walk single file. Archie led, using his shoulder when necessary to force his way through. Hart followed, shying away from the hands which reaching toward him. Horatio tried to protect the boy, pushing away those who ventured too close. He thought of his sword, but feared what reaction the crowd might have if he were to draw it.

A walk which should have taken five minutes at most, took over fifteen. The closer they drew to the courthouse, the more densely packed the crowd was. A boy reached from the press around them and knocked Hart's hat from his head. He tried to grab it, but Horatio had to snatch it back from the eager hands.

Despite the cold of the winter morning, sweat poured down Horatio's face. The smell of unwashed bodies filled his nostrils, and he wondered if his hearing would ever recover. He could not remember if he had eaten breakfast, could not remember anything before being caught in the centre of this mob.

And then they were through it all and inside the building. The doors swung closed behind them, shutting out the sights and sounds they had endured.

"My God," Archie said, his relief obvious.

Horatio looked at Hart whose eyes were nearly black in a face as white as his stock. "Are you all right?"

"Y-yes, I think so."

Archie pointed to a bench located along the corridor. "Come and sit down. Take a moment to catch your breath."

Hart followed him. "I don't understand them, sir. Why are they behaving like this? Do they hate me so much?"

Archie shook his head as he sank onto the bench. "It has nothing to do with you, Hart. Whenever the assizes are held, it is treated as a holiday - a day out, if you will. Entire families come into town and spend the day. Add to that the excitement of a murder trial, and the number of people increases accordingly." He grinned. "I would hazard a guess that market day holds the same level of excitement for most of them. A murder trial, a new copper pot. All the same, don't you see?"

Hart nodded, not quite understanding, but willing to be diverted by the lieutenant's nonsense. He glanced up at Horatio to check his reaction as well.

"I doubt a murder trial quite equals a copper pot," Horatio offered. "A cast-iron pot perhaps, but not a copper one."

"I stand corrected. Mr. Hornblower is quite right. A copper pot would be cause for several days of revelry."

As Archie continued to calm Hart, Horatio's attention wander. He could see the mass of people outside the window, filling the streets with noise and confusion. Inside the building, the corridors were packed with those who would be called before the court today in other matters, and those queuing for a seat in the courtroom, hoping to be among the few who would witness the trial and carry word to those waiting outside. Amongst them hurried clerks carrying sheaves of papers and books, pausing to look neither left nor right as they saw to the court's business. Throughout it all, an air of order reigned, and it calmed him.

Then Samuel Pellew was there, urging them to make their way to the courtroom. Hart stood up, his eyes flicking nervously from Archie to Horatio.

"Must we?" he whispered.

Horatio nodded. "It is our duty to testify against this man, Hart. He must not go unpunished to commit this atrocity again as he pleases."

Hart swallowed hard then straightened his shoulders. Archie watched as Dr. Pellew led him toward the courtroom, then turned to Horatio.

"You're nervous as well," he observed.

"I know what I must say," Horatio returned, "but I have no experience in such a situation. I have never seen a trial before."

"You have nothing to worry about," Archie said as they followed Hart and Dr. Pellew. "You have survived Sir Edward Pellew in a temper on any number of occasions. Believe me, this will pale in comparison."

The trial began as Archie had said. Tegereth, shaved and in his Sunday best, swore his innocence. He bemoaned the loss of life aboard the Phoebe, assuring the court that he had happened upon the wreck well after the schooner had been lost. He knew nothing of wreckers in Cornwall, and he himself was, without a doubt, not in league with the scurrilous rogues.

"By God," Samuel Pellew murmured, "he must be the only man in Cornwall who knows nothing of them."

Horatio and Archie exchanged pained glances as three witnesses testified that Gawan Tegereth had been with them, far from Bream's Cove, sheltering from the weather in an inn some fifteen miles away. Each told the same story, the facts matching absolutely. In turn, the magistrate thanked each and dismissed them. Tegereth grinned openly at them during and after their testimony.

"Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower," the bailiff read out.

Forcing himself not to check his buttons nor adjust his neckerchief, Horatio walked to the box and swore his oath. From the corner of his eye, he could see Archie and Hart. Archie nodded slightly. Turning his full attention to Lord Teignmouth, Horatio willed himself to relax.

He answered the magistrate's questions concisely, repeating the events leading first to Tegereth's arrest then to locating the lanterns.

"Mr. Hornblower, are you from Cornwall?" Teignmouth inquired when Horatio finished describing what had happened in the chapel.

"No, sir, I am not."

"And your knowledge of this area - is it extensive?"

Horatio paused, wondering where this would lead. "No, sir. My ship is in Falmouth for the winter months."

"Yet you have heard of these wreckers? Knew to look for their lanterns?" Teignmouth looked at the spectators and then the prisoner before noting something on the paper before him. "Thank you, Lieutenant Hornblower. You may step down."

Feeling something akin to dizzying relief, Horatio left the box. The next words chilled him, though.

"Henry Hartington Wellard."

Hart stood up, clutching the sheaf of papers Archie had kept in the pocket of his coat. His hands were visibly trembling, his face devoid of all colour. As he passed Horatio, their eyes met, and Horatio managed a small smile for the boy's sake.

"Remember, don't look at Tegereth," he cautioned quietly, and Hart nodded his understanding. "Speak only to the magistrate."

Standing in the box, Hart looked smaller and younger than his years. Around them, Horatio heard a sympathetic murmur pass through the crowded room. There was the scratching of charcoal on paper as artists drew the boy's likeness.

Teignmouth smiled encouragingly at Hart. "You have submitted a statement to the court, Mr. Wellard. I must ask you to read it aloud."

"Y-yes, sir." With an effort, Hart smoothed the edges of the rolled paper. His eyes darted over to Horatio, then dropped to the pages he held. "On Saturday, the - "

"Mr. Wellard, I apologise for stopping you, but you must read it out for all of us to hear," Teignmouth ordered.

Hart nodded and began a second time, but again was stopped.

"Would you like a glass of water, perhaps?" the magistrate inquired gently. "This is thirsty work."

"Yes, thank you."

The bailiff fetched a glass of water, and Hart took a nervous sip. He kept his eyes down, refusing to look at the grinning face of the prisoner opposite. After a second sip, he handed the bailiff the glass and drew a breath.

"Are you ready, Mr. Wellard?"

"Yes, my lord." With another quick glance at Horatio, Hart began. This time his voice was shaky but louder. As he related his story, it wavered and broke from time to time, but he continued doggedly on.

Archie leaned over to Horatio. "He is doing well. Look at Tegereth."

Horatio looked at the prisoner. His bravado had faded and had been replaced with anger. One of the guards spoke to him in an undertone, obviously warning the man to remain still. It did not seem to be having any effect. Tegereth glowered at the boy, his hands clenched into fists.

When Hart finished the last page, he raised his head and returned the man's glare without hesitation. Only Lord Teignmouth's words broke the sudden silence in the packed room.

"Can you identify the man who killed your father?"

Hart's chin rose, and his voice was now steady and calm. "Yes, I identify the prisoner, called Gawen Tegereth, as the man I saw shoot my father and kill him."

Horatio gripped Archie's arm. They had told the boy the words he must say to ensure his statement was legally binding, but he had delivered them with a courage that was staggering. Archie nodded his approval. Hart had done everything in his power to ensure his father's murderer would be punished.

Teignmouth looked at Hart and nodded. "That will be all, Mr. Wellard. The court thanks you for your testimony."

Horatio saw Hart stagger a bit as he stepped from the box. Obviously the boy had locked his knees and now the stiffened joints were loathe to do his bidding. He was shaking from head to foot as he reached them and found his place between Archie and Dr. Pellew.

"What now?" Horatio murmured to Archie.

"A recess, I think. There is no one else to testify, and Teignmouth needs time to weigh his decision."

And he was right. Teignmouth called a recess, sighting the impeding arrival of the noon hour. Before the bailiff had closed the door behind the magistrate's retreating back, the spectators bolted from the courtroom. Each was eager to be the first with an account of the morning's proceedings.

Horatio and Archie moved to stand protectively between Hart and the departing crowd. Few people, though, dared stop in the rush.

Dr. Pellew appeared in the doorway. "I have had luncheon brought from the inn," he said into the silence.

They followed him into the hall and up a flight of stairs. It was quiet with none of the to-ing and fro-ing of the main floor. The room Dr. Pellew had pressed into service was small with only a table and four chairs in its centre. The one window was streaked and dirty.

Archie carved the cold chicken with a flourish. There was also ham, a wedge of cheese, fresh bread and a mince pie. Hart poured cider into heavy pewter tankards before settling himself in front of an already filled plate. They occupied themselves first with the business eating for a time before Dr. Pellew spoke aloud.

"He will be found guilty." Looking at Hart across the expanse of table, he nodded. "You did well. Your father would be proud of what you did today."

Hart let out his breath. "It was all right, then? I was not certain."

Archie nodded, swallowing a mouthful of food. "Did you not remark on the change that came over him? He was cocksure of himself, even after Mr. Hornblower's testimony. When you read your statement, he knew he was lost."

Hart looked at Horatio. "I did not understand why Lord Teignmouth asked about your background, sir. What would it matter where you came from?"

"It did not, which was His Lordship's point. Tegereth swore he knew nothing of wrecking or the men who do it. I did."

"But you knew because Captain Pellew told you."

"Hart, there is not a soul in Cornwall who does not know or has not heard rumour of these men," Dr. Pellew supplied. "Tegereth portrayed himself more innocent than a child."

Hart nodded. "I see." He took a sip of cider then smiled at Horatio. "You did well, sir."

"As did you."

Turning to Archie, Hart inquired, "What would the critics say about this play, sir?"

Archie smiled. "I would not venture a guess before the last act is finished."

"'This play'?" Dr. Pellew inquired, one eyebrow raised in confusion. "This has not been entertaining in the least."

As they continued eating, Hart told him the story of Archie's attempt to coach him and calm his nerves. Horatio half-listened as he ate, thinking how odd the morning had been. Days could have passed since they had made their way through the crowd to the courthouse, yet the actual trial seemed to have taken mere minutes. He was exhausted, and it was not yet one o'clock.

At half-past-one, Dr. Pellew led them back downstairs. Every seat had a spectator in it. Hart sat beside Horatio on the hard wood bench, and Horatio felt tension radiating off the boy. Leaning down, he whispered, "The worst is behind you."

"Suppose he is found not guilty?" Hart asked. "Will he not seek me out?"

Horatio put a calming hand on the boy's arm. "I doubt that will happen, but if it should, Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Pellew and I will keep you safe. He will not harm you."

"But his family, his friends - "

"No one will harm you," Horatio declared. "I give you my word on it. Do you believe me?"

Hart nodded, his eyes following the bailiffs as they led the prisoner to his place. Horatio turned to follow the man's progress as well. Some of the morning's bravado had returned, and he scowled at both Hart and Horatio when he felt their eyes upon him.

It was almost two when Lord Teignmouth returned to the bench. Deep lines edged the sides of his mouth, erasing the signs of good humour which had marked his face earlier in the day. His eyes found Hart, and for an instant, his expression eased, then he turned to Tegereth.

"In the name of His Majesty, George the Third, King of England..." he began, and Horatio found himself wishing for a monarch with fewer titles. "...I find the prisoner, Gawen Tegereth, guilty of murder and sentence him to be hanged by the neck until dead. This sentence will be carried out as soon as is practicable."

The courtroom erupted in sound, and spectators rushed for the doorways. Beside him, Horatio felt Hart sag with relief even as Archie clapped him on the back. He realised Teignmouth was still speaking, but could not hear the words or make sense of them. It was over.

They waited until Tegereth was taken out, swearing retribution at the top of his lungs. Hart trembled at the words, moving closer to Horatio as they resounded through the nearly empty room.

"Do not worry," Horatio counselled. "There are few who would think to carry out those threats."

"And those few are jailed already," Dr. Pellew added.

Hart nodded, but the trembling did not ease.

"Sir, when is the last stage to Falmouth?" Archie inquired.

"A half past three, I think."

Archie looked at Horatio who nodded. "Come along, Hart. We will pack while Lieutenant Hornblower settles our accounts at the inn. With luck, we will be away in less than an hour."

Dr. Pellew nodded his understanding at the sudden urgency. "I will arrange to have some food prepared for you. You will not arrive in Falmouth until late this evening."

"You do not accompany us, sir?" Horatio asked.

"I have other business to see to before I return - I wish to question Tegereth regarding his accomplices before his execution. He will not die alone. It is just as well you leave now. I know my brother awaits word of the trial. It is right you should be the bearer of it, Mr. Wellard."

Hart stepped forward and offered his hand. "I thank you for your assistance in this, sir. It was not an easy thing, I know."

Pellew shook his hand. "You should be proud of what you did today. I can think of no better way to avenge the wrong done to both you and your family."

"Thank you, sir."

"We will have other business together upon my return."

"If we are to make the stage," Archie said, "we must hurry."

Horatio paused in the doorway of the courtroom to take one last look. It seemed impossible that many days of inquiry and preparation had come down to these few hours.

"Come along, Mr. Hornblower!" Archie called from the hallway, and he hurried to join them.

*****

It was almost a week after their return to the Indefatigable that Hart received a summons to Captain Pellew's cabin. He had been expecting it, but the faces of the midshipmen around him at the long mess table registered everything from surprise to horror and, for a few, glee. Hart merely nodded to the messenger before swiftly tidying himself and hurrying up the ladder. Behind him came a burst of excited chatter as his fate was vigorously debated.

The wind bit through his coat as he hurried across the deck and sang mournfully in the rigging above his head. It was a sound he had come to recognise and dismiss.

He stopped in front of the red-coated marine standing guard at the Captain's door. He had seen the man before. He was popular amongst his mates; laughter always surrounded him during the long evenings spent below deck. Now the man looked him over and straightened his lapel before nodding.

"You'll do, young Mr. Wellard," he assured him. "Tis the Capt'n and 'is brother in there, all right?"

Hart nodded and waited until the marine knocked and announced him. Stepping back, the man cocked his head toward the open door and winked. Whispering his thanks, Hart stepped into the cabin.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Wellard," Captain Pellew said from his place at the desk.

"Good afternoon, sir." He looked at Samuel Pellew standing to one side. "Dr. Pellew."

Captain Pellew stood up. "My brother has business to transact with you. I am sure you are aware of its nature. I will leave you to talk." Picking up a sheaf of papers, he left them to it, shutting the inner cabin door quietly behind him.

"You have had word from London, sir?"

"A letter in today's post. I had business with Ned and thought I would combine the two. You have waited long enough, I think."

Hart sat in the offered chair, and Dr. Pellew handed him the letter. Hart glanced at the postmark, and saw that it was from his father's secretary, addressed,

"Henry Hartington Wellard, esq.
in the care of Dr. Samuel Pellew
Arwenack Street, Customs House
Falmouth
Cornwall"

Samuel said, "I will leave you to read it. If you should require my assistance, I will be but next door. There is paper and ink, should you wish to write a reply."

He left. Hart tore the seal and read,

"Dear Mr. Wellard, It is with profound grief ..."

Hart stopped, unwilling to read of another's sorrow. He continued where the first page ended with:

"...I was proud he called me his friend, and pray you will do the same.

I understand from this man, Dr. Samuel Pellew, that you have given over your power of attorney into his hands, that he might act on your behalf. Write immediately and tell me whether I may place my trust in him, a man I do not know. I will communicate nothing to him until I have had word from you.

I am attempting to reconcile your father's accounts, but another six weeks must pass before the sums are final. That is the amount of time which, by law, must pass, in order that his creditors may have ample opportunity to present their bills for settlement. I regret this for your sake, who must be in desperate want of money.

To this end, I have enclosed bank drafts drawn upon Fox's in Cornwall, in the amount of one hundred pounds, advanced as a loan which I will see repaid upon finalisation. With this you will settle any bills incurred there, with enough left to see you through a few months time. You will be in want of clothing and necessities. Do not hesitate to see yourself comfortable; write to me if you need more.

I will now detail what I know of your expectations. Henry satisfied his personal debts on the first of January, as was his habit. Very little is outstanding. The house in town must be given up, the balance of the lease paid.

Your property in Ireland you own outright, taxes already paid for the year. The rents are, as always, disappointing, and will not likely clear more than a hundred a year. I suggest you retain the present bailiff, as he has proven himself an honest and reliable man.

When all is taken into account, I expect you will have another two hundred a year interest. You will be comfortable with this until you reach your majority. If I may presume to advise the son of my dearest friend, I think it would be prudent if you appoint someone to oversee your affairs until then.

Dr. Pellew has also told me of your plans, that you intend to seek admission into the Naval Academy at Plymouth. This news surprises me, as none of your family has ever had any ties to the military. Nevertheless, if you reject Oxford or Cambridge, this is not an unwise choice. At least there you will be among gentlemen and treated as such, and will finish well suited for a profitable profession.

Send as soon as may be a list of any items you wish removed from your father's house before its disposition. I will act according to your wishes in this, of course. All I require is the direction and your instructions. I do not recommend coming to town - leave it in my hands, I beg you - the house is so very melancholy a place now. It is best that you remember it as it was.

I bid you farewell. You will hear from me at the end of the six weeks I mentioned, but when all is done, I expect we will part, I hope with kind feelings. My boys unite with me in sending warmest regards, and Mrs. W. asks to be remembered to you. God bless you and keep you. I am always, for the sake of your beloved father,

Your devoted svt.
Enoch Whitney"

Hart refolded the letter carefully, disappointed. He had half expected Enoch would offer him a place in his home, at least to visit during holidays, but his letter had not hinted at it. Whitney apparently intended to do nothing more; whatever his claims of affection and love for Henry Wellard, it apparently did not extend to his son.

He wrote his reply, assuring Enoch that he had indeed authorised Dr. Pellew to oversee his affairs, that he trusted him. He thanked Enoch for his kind words of condolence, and flourished the letter as Dr. Pellew returned.

"Finished?" Dr. Pellew asked. "I will seal it and see it sent."

"Thank you, sir," Hart said. "You know I have accepted Captain Sawyer's offer."

"Yes, and I am sorry for it. We have grown to care for you, and wish you would reconsider. Ned has offered you a place, and so have I. You might also take a position with the packet service. My word would see you in a first-rate scud. It would be profitable in time."

"I thank you again," Hart said. "I know the debt I owe you and all your family, and can never repay you. But I will not see Cornwall again. I pray you understand."

"I do," Dr. Pellew said. "I regret it. I hope you have seen that we are not all wicked. We have done our best to repudiate that impression."

"I know, sir. I wish we had met another time. As it is, I must go. I waited...I had hoped Mr. Whitney would offer...but he has not."

"Mr. Whitney? I have had a letter from him. Did he explain his circumstances to you?"

"No, sir. He only explained my own," Hart said, confused.

"Perhaps he did not wish to burden you. He cannot meet his obligations at the end of this quarter. He is bankrupt. No amount of affection can feed a family of five."

Hart was stunned. He had not thought of anything so unfortunate. "Why did he not tell me?" he asked.

"He is afraid, perhaps, that you will think yourself responsible."

"How many others has he harmed?"

"Every man killed leaves a legacy - poverty, grief, families dismantled," Samuel said. "The evil that men do - "

"What about those families?" Hart interrupted. He knew the rest of the quote, and did not care to hear it repeated. "Can nothing be done for them?"

"Something is being done. Their Lordships Teignmouth, Falmouth and Trefusis have written to the Court of Admiralty, suggesting that all property forfeit to the Crown be sold to relieve the wants of the victim's families."

"That makes sense. Will it be allowed?"

"They will try. If it passes, it would be a befitting endowment, when one considers the manner of acquisition. I suspect most of the property and wealth was ill-gotten - and as God promised, wealth gained in such a manner brings no good fortune"

Hart deliberated. "So they brought it on themselves. I wonder if people will say Phoebe's captain did the same, with his smuggling."

"Some might," Samuel said. "Speaking of which, I wish to give you this." He laid a cloth packet on the table, and Hart heard the clink of coins.

"What is it?" he asked, wondering why Samuel Pellew would give him money after all he had done already.

"A small percentage of the goods seized by my brother in Galway. It should go to you; without your warning, we would not have had them. It's a small thing, in comparison to the rest, but I prefer you take this."

"But I owe you...the funeral...you must charge something as a doctor..."

"No. Whatever my expenses, I deducted from the total. That's the way of it. You owe nothing. This is yours. It is little enough. Use it to purchase your uniforms, perhaps. Things you will need to furnish your study. You may want to pay a tutor in the beginning. Do with it as you see fit."

"All right, sir. Thank you." Hart put the money in his coat just as Captain Pellew returned.

"Good," Samuel said, seeing his brother. "I have overstayed my visit and must rush out again. Tegereth's confession means another dozen men."

"Good-bye, Dr. Pellew," Hart said. They shook hands, and the doctor and customs agent smiled, a warm, crinkly smile, one of the few Hart had seen on his face. He looked handsome that way.

"Good-bye, lad," Samuel said. "God keep you."

"And you, sir. Fare well."

After Samuel left, Hart was once more alone with Sir Edward. He wanted a favour. After the expected good wishes and farewells, Hart asked, "Sir, may I ask for one last accommodation? You have done a thousand already, and I can never repay you, but - "

"Ask," Sir Edward said.

"When you next write to your brother, to Israel, will you give him a message?"

"I have a partial letter for him here," he said, touching his desk drawer. "But the mail for North America goes out only once a month. It is not urgent?"

"No, sir. Not urgent."

"What is the message?" the captain asked.

"Just tell him...tell him I said all is well. Will you?"

"All is well. Only that?"

"Yes, sir. All is well."

*****

Leaning against the hammock netting, Horatio looked out over the harbour. The wind was strong at his back, but the biting cold had eased. Winter had not fled, but it was not as fierce in its determination to cause misery for those unfortunate enough to spend time above deck. The sun had grown stronger in the past weeks as well. Each day lasted longer than the previous had, and it was no longer dark by late afternoon. With luck and good weather, the Indefatigable would soon leave Falmouth and once again seek out the French.

"Beautiful day," Archie remarked as he joined him. Leaning back against the gunwale, he lifted his face to the sun's warmth.

"I was just remarking on that," Horatio agreed. "We may sail soon if the weather remains kind to us."

"Hart is saying his farewells to Bracie and Bowles."

"They were very kind to him."

"You worry for him." It was said without a hint of question.

Horatio nodded, continuing to study the activity of the ships around them. "He has no one else to do so."

"You are right. Once you dismiss the Captain and his brothers, Captain Saw-"

Horatio turned to him then, his eyes dark and serious. "I don't dismiss their interest in him. They are all good and well intentioned."

"But they have other concerns."

"Yes, they have families and responsibilities. I have neither."

"You are a second lieu- "

"Do not be obtuse, Archie, you know what I mean."

Archie closed his eyes and lifted his face again to the sun. "Yes, I do. You are both alone. Hart is new to it while you are not. He did well for himself when he garnered your interest, Horatio."

"Hardly that," Horatio protested.

"Excuse me, sirs," Hart interrupted. "I have come to say good-bye."

Archie offered his hand. "Good luck, Hart. I think you will do well at the Naval Academy."

"Thank you, Mr. Kennedy. I will endeavour to do so." Hart shook the proffered hand. "I must thank you as well for your help preparing my testimony."

"You are welcome." Archie paused, searching the young face before him. "It was the right thing to do."

Hart nodded. "Yes, I realise that now. It was the most difficult thing to do as well."

Archie glanced at Horatio who had turned to face the harbour. "I must go below, so I will say my farewells."

"Good-bye, sir."

The cry of the gulls overhead filled the sudden silence. Horatio felt Hart join him at the rail, and for a moment, they stood together without speaking.

"When will you leave here?" Hart asked.

"Perhaps by the end of the fortnight."

Hart shook his head, a smile lighting his face. "No, what I meant was you will be a captain one day, will you not?"

Hornblower smiled self-consciously. "That is my hope."

"Then I shall hope with you," Hart promised.

"Have you seen Captain Pellew?"

"Yes, I spoke to him and to Dr. Pellew this morning. Dr. Pellew will have charge of my affairs until I come of age." Hart paused then asked in a rush, "Sir, may I ask - I have no one else. May I write to you on occasion?"

"Yes. Yes, of course. If you do not, I will request leave for the express purpose of going to Plymouth and boxing your ears."

Hart grinned, relieved and grateful. He offered his hand, and Hornblower clasped it in both of his own.

"Take care, Hart," he pleaded. "If you should have need of me, do not hesitate to send word."

"Thank you, sir," Hart answered, executing a perfect salute.

Horatio returned the gesture, and Hart turned to the ladder. A shore boat lay at the bottom, ready to receive him. With a grace learned in his few weeks on board, Hart descended easily. With a word to the oarsman, Hart seated himself in the stern. He turned back only once, his hand going to block the glare of the sun as the little boat pulled clear of the Indefatigable's shadow. Horatio raised his hand, unsure whether the boy could see him.

"He will do," he murmured to himself as the boat disappeared from view behind a sloop. "He will do."

 

 

 

*****

Endnotes

This is a work of fiction, and anything written here that bears resemblance to fact is purely coincidental. To the best of our knowledge, no person residing on the coast between Falmouth and Lizzard Point has ever been either accused or found guilty of piracy, wrecking, or murder in the manner related here. If some are guilty of these crimes, they have earned their reward by this time, but even so, they have nothing to do with this story.

The description of Falmouth was taken from various authors, including the memoirs of James Silk Buckingham, private letters of George Gordon, Lord Byron, and C. Northcote Parkinson's biography of Sir Edward Pellew.

Novels: Anyone wishing to read English versions of French novels might do well to order "Fanny Hill" by John Cleland, 1749 (the Penguin version is uncensored), or you may read it on line at: http://eserver.org/fiction/fanny-hill/01.html . Another is "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Choderlos de Laclos, a French artillery officer, published in 1782.

Information on wreckers, by Iain Lawrence."There is no doubt that there were wreckers once, men who profited by the plundering of unfortunate ships. Stories of this are found not only in Cornwall, but all along the coast of south-east England and up and down eastern shore of North American, from Newfoundland to the Florida Keys...but the violent form of wrecking...is a different matter. References to the deliberate destruction of ships can be found in books written as long ago as 1775. In 1882, Frederick W. Farrar wrote in his Early Days of Christianity, "The men of Cornwall went straight from church to light their beacon fires."

It's hard now to separate truth from fiction. There are some historians who say that no ship was ever deliberately wrecked, though this is probably going too far. Inside the old clipper ship Cutty Sark, now in permanent dry-dock in Greenwich, is the figurehead from the "Wilberforce, a ship built in the Bahamas in 1816. A plaque below the figurehead offers this history of its ship: "She was lured ashore by wreckers at Lee, North Devon, on 23rd October 1842. Seven seamen were drowned. (The wreckers tied a lantern to the tail of a donkey on the beach, which produced a movement similar to the light of a ship at anchor.) This was the last known instance of a ship being trapped by wreckers."

For other views, reader may enjoy Daphne Du Maurier's 1936 novel, 'Jamaica Inn" and the 1974 non-fiction book "Shipwreck," which contains many photographs of old wrecks and has a text by John Fowles."

Samuel Pellew is portrayed as himself. As the eldest Samuel Pellew's (his father's) four sons, became an M.D and practised medicine in Flushing. Later, through the favour of Lord Falmouth to Edward Pellew, Samuel was given the post of customs agent in Falmouth, a lucrative position. He was also a member of Falmouth's prize court, and worked as the prize agent for both Sir Edward's and Sir John Borlase Warren's squadrons of frigates out of Falmouth.

Sir Israel Pellew served as a captain under his brother Edward's command for most of his career, with two notable exceptions, once when he was sent in his own 'Cleopatra' (not the same ship, Cleopatre, the French frigate captured the first year of the war with France,) to North America until the Peace of Amiens. When Sir Edward took the command in India, Sir Israel went to the Mediterannean with Nelson, and commanded the ship to which the French Admiral surrendered his sword (duly returned, as would be expected.) The story of Amphion's destruction, as related here, is factual.

The Very Rev. Hon. George Pellew eventually became Dean of Norwich 1828-66 after earning MA and DD degrees from Corpus Christi College in Oxford. He published (1847) the life of his father-in-law, Henry Addington, first Viscount Sidmouth (occasionally PM and speaker of the house), as well as numerous sermons and tracts and his personal memoirs of his father, Sir Edward Pellew. His written memoirs begin in 1796, when he was aged three.