Survivial
by Lori

Sunday, January, 1796

Archie Kennedy sat at the officer's mess table before his fellow
shipmates and his untouched breakfast. Thoughts raced through his mind of the
coming evening. Horatio Hornblower, Captain Pellew, Lieutenant William
Eccleston, and himself were invited to dinner at Government House. The three
other men had been invited there many times, of course, but Archie hadn't. He
figured that unless you do something dashing or heroic, you'll never have a
chance in society. Fortunately, Lord Edrington and Captain Pellew put in a
good word for young Mr. Kennedy after that God awful incident in Muzillac.
Archie sighed, remembering the face of his broken hearted friend on the
bridge.
Hornblower, Archie's closest friend, entered the mess after an early
morning watch and strode to the table. "Good morning, Mr. Kennedy!" He said,
rather cheerfully.
"Good morning." Archie replied simply. Horatio slid in between two
officers and folded his hands before him on the tabletop. He fixed his gaze
on the plate across from him, then letting his eyes slowly drift upward to
the face of his fidgety friend. "Archie, have you even touched your breakfast
yet?" he asked.
Archie looked up. Then realized how long he had been lost in his
thoughts. "Oh, I um, no I haven't."
"Well? What are you waiting for?"
Archie picked up his fork, ready to begin his cold meal.
"A written invitation?" Horatio asked, finishing his sentence.
Kennedy looked up, his utensil falling to the wooden floor in a clatter.
Horatio grinned. "Oh, I see. You're nervous about this evening,
aren't you?" Archie nodded. Horatio chuckled softly. "Archie, there's
nothing to be afraid of. You'll be fine."
Archie rolled his eyes. "You say that every time. Do you remember what
happened the last time you said that?"
Horatio thought for a moment. "Yes, I
do. Unfortunately. I'm sorry, Archie." "It's fine, just be careful the next
time you say it. When you do, something upsetting usually happens." Archie
stood from the table, Hornblower following him. Pausing at the doorway,
Kennedy turned to Horatio just as he reached him. "But, If worst comes to
worst, you can cower under the table." Hornblower said, giving Archie and
friendly pat on the back. Archie sighed, "To tell you the truth, Horatio, I
suddenly got this strange feeling that you're right."
With that, the two men left the mess.

That Evening

The setting sun was leaving a beautiful sky; full of reds, yellows, and
golds. The Indefatigable had docked at Plymouth harbor so the invitees could
begin their journey to Government House.
"Enjoy your trip, Sir." Said Lieutenant Bracegirdle to the Captain, who
climbed through the entry port. "Thank you, Mr. Bracegirdle. I'm sure that it
will prove satisfactory." Bracegirdle saluted as the Captain disappeared
below the rail. Lieutenant Eccleston soon followed him.
Only moments later, Hornblower appeared on deck. He approached the entry
port calmly. He was confident that this whole night was going to go like
clockwork.
There was a sudden clatter farther down the deck. Hornblower turned
towards the companionway. There, lying face down on the wooden planks, was
Archie. He had tripped over the top step of the stairs.
"It'll be a miracle if he makes it through the night in one piece."
Commented Hornblower, as he turned back to Mr. Bracegirdle.
Here came Archie. He seemed more confident than he had been that morning.
But, his eyes gave everything away. He was scared to death.
"Are you ready?" Horatio asked Archie. Kennedy took a deep breath. "Yes."
He said over his exhale. He climbed through the entry port and hopped down
into the jolly boat below.
As Archie looked up, anxious to know when Horatio was going to get
moving, he suddenly remembered the immense size the Indy was compared to the
tiny, rickety jolly boat. He turned back to face the sailors before him.
Matthews, who was beside him, noticed his nervousness. "Mr. Kennedy, Sir?
Are 'ye goin' to be all right?"
Startled, Archie turned his gaze to him. "Yes, Matthews. I'll be fine."
Matthews smiled. Glancing up at the Indefatigable towering over them, he
commented cheerfully, "She's a fine sight, ain't she, Sir?"
"Yes, that she is, Matthews. That she is."
Then, Hornblower finally arrived. He sat beside Archie; his hands folded
neatly in his lap.

As the two long boats made their excruciatingly slow trip to the dock
across the harbor, Kennedy's nervousness manifested itself in his constantly
moving fingers. When he realized that Hornblower was watching him with a
grin, he quickly secured his hands under his legs.
Finally, the four officers were on the dock. They filed up the stone
stairway, as the two boats began to row back.
Their scarlet lined capes flowing gracefully behind them, the four men
crossed the street to greet the two carriage drivers. Captain Pellew and
Lieutenant Eccleston climbed into the first carriage as the driver held the
small door open for them. Kennedy and Hornblower did the same with the second
carriage.

Hornblower brought his cloak tighter around himself as a bitter wind
exhaled into the closed in cab quarters. He shivered. Damn this winter cold.
Hornblower was tired of it already and it was only January. He sighed, a
small cloud forming before him.
Kennedy sat across from him. He had long since dozed off to sleep. His
chest rose and fell evenly, in sync with the gray mist forming before his
slightly tanned face. Archie looked so dark and defenseless when he was
asleep. Horatio was surprised by how much light Archie's eyes gave his face.
That light was one that Horatio thought he'd never have. His eyes were so
dark and intense that when he looked in the mirror he could swear he was
staring into the face of his father.
The two carriages entered a gloomy, wooded area. It was at least another
hour and a half before they reached Sir Hew's mansion. Hornblower sighed once
more. He glanced at Archie again and, deciding to follow his example, put
himself into a comfortable position and rested his head against the side of
the carriage. It wasn't long before the gentle rocking motion of it made him
drift off.

The two carriages climbed up a steep, slippery, winding road. It was
unstable for the most part and the drivers were doing their best to keep the
horses' path steady.
Suddenly, a shot rang out from somewhere in the woods. A musket ball was
sent spiraling through the trees and into the second driver, who cried out in
pain and tumbled out of his seat, dead before he hit the ground. The sound
frightened the horses and they reared into the air. The mechanism, which held
the horses to the front of the carriage, snapped and broke free. The horses
galloped off in fear, their hooves thundering across the ground.
From the first carriage, the sound broke Pellew and Eccleston's
conversation. They both strained their necks to see what could be going on
behind them. But, they had already gone around a bend in the road and the
second carriage had slipped from their view.

Hornblower jolted awake with the driver's scream. He quickly focused his
eyes and peered out the window just in time to see the driver fly by the
window from the seat above. Horatio nudged Kennedy awake, who quickly sat
upright when he saw the horrifying look on his friend's chiseled features.
"Horatio, what's going on?" he asked.
"The driver's just been killed." Horatio paused. "I'll have to climb out
and see if I can stop the horses." He undid the chain of his cape and let it
fall off his shoulders and onto the seat. He unlatched the door and it swung
open. Holding onto the doorframe, Horatio leaned out of the cab. His face
suddenly drained of its color as the loose horses rounded the bend, and the
edge of the cliff was racing towards him. Hornblower sank back inside the
carriage, terrified. "Archie, we're going to have to jump."
"What?! You can't be serious."
"I'm being dead serious. And that's what we're going to be in a minute if
we don't get moving!"
They both went for the door. Kennedy first, then Hornblower. Kennedy
leaped out with a shriek of terror. Hornblower then jumped. They both fumbled
for the edge of the cliff, slamming into the side of it in the meantime.
The carriage went sailing freely through the air, smashing into ledges and
trees, then finally settling in a thousand pieces on the floor of the grove
of trees.
Archie and Horatio dangled on the edge of the cliff for a few moments. But,
because of the recent snowfall this area had, ice had formed on the edge of
the road. Horatio's finger's lost their grip and he was sent slipping and
sliding down the rocky bluff. Kennedy soon followed him.
It was only a few moments before Hornblower smashed into a tree, being
wounded by an oncoming jagged branch. He cried out in agony and continued to
fall.
Kennedy, who was not far off from Hornblower, tried with all his might to
grab hold of something. He failed, and went tumbling, head over heels,
through the trees.

One of the wooden carriage wheels, which had miraculously survived the fall,
rotated slowly on its base. It seemed to be mocking the two young naval
officers that it sat near; moving when they didn't.

The darkness of the evening engulfed the small region. The night creatures
emerged from their homes, their lives continuing on as normal.
A small breeze swept through the area, making the night somewhat colder.
The wheel finally stopped.

Sir Hew's Mansion

The Captain's carriage pulled up the drive of Major General Sir Hew and Lady
Dalrymple's home.
The building was still as immaculate as the first time Sir Edward had seen
it. The four white pillars towered over the Captain and the Lieutenant as
they strode bravely across the gravel covered drive towards the front door.
Once inside, a butler bustled towards the two officers and politely asked for
their hats and cloaks. Pellew and Eccleston handed their things to the
servant in gratitude.
Across the greatly illuminated hall, stood Sir Hew and his wife to greet them.
"Sir Edward! William! So glad you could join us this evening." Sir Hew said,
approaching them.
Both men took a graceful bow. "How are you, Sir Hew? Milady?" Eccleston asked.
"Very well, thank you. And yourself?" Sir Hew and Eccleston began a small
conversation.
Pellew took this opportunity to glance towards the door. How he hoped that
those double doors would open and two of best officers would enter. But, he
knew his hopes were useless. He had a feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Something was wrong.
"Captain Pellew, I see that your two young officers have not yet arrived. Do
you know what might be keeping them?" Sir Hew asked.
"No, Sir. They should be along in a few minutes. Hopefully." Pellew replied.
"Well, Gentlemen, I believe you know how my cook is. I think it best we do
not keep him waiting."
Sir Hew and Lady Dalrymple, arm in arm, began the short line that now filed
into the small dining room.

************************

Archie lay on his stomach in a crude fashion on the forest floor. He moaned,
his face screwing up in pain slightly. His blue eyes fluttered open as he
moved his head to study his surroundings. Seeing nothing but darkness, he sat
up ever so slowly and depended on a nearby tree for support. As he sat there,
every inch of his body hurting in one way or another, he tried to regain the
breath that had been knocked out of him when the ground broke his fall.
There was a rustle from somewhere behind him.
Archie's breathing grew quiet as he listened intently.
Another rustle.
Archie's heart began to race. He painfully stood up onto his feet, keeping
his back flat against the trunk of the tree.
Whatever it was that made the sound seemed to be getting closer, its uneven
steps growing louder and louder.
Kennedy carefully picked up a stone that was lying by his foot. He gripped it
so tightly his knuckles were turning white. His instincts were what told him
to emerge from his hiding place and try to ward off the oncoming threat.
Someone shouted in fear. Archie couldn't tell whether it was him or the thing
he was protecting himself from. "Archie!" Screamed a familiar voice.
This caught Kennedy a bit off guard. "Horatio?" he asked attentively.
Coming out of the shadows and into the moonlight was Hornblower.
"Jesus, Horatio! You scared me half to death!" Archie yelled.
"Sorry, I did not mean to scare you. Are you all right?" Horatio asked.
"Well, apart from just having fifty years taken off my life, I've probably
smashed into about sixty trees, twenty rocks and three dozen bushes. How are
you?" Archie was trying his hardest not to be rude, but by having been nearly
beaten to a pulp by inanimate objects was not his idea of a good time.
"I'm sorry. I'm just trying to be the caring friend that's always been there
for you." Horatio began to approach the remnants of what once was their
carriage before he finished his sentence.
"Caring? I distinctly remember somebody saying we had to jump."
"Archie, if we had not jumped, we would not be here at this moment arguing
about it."
There was silence between them for a few moments.
"Please, forgive me, Horatio. I have been waiting for that dinner at
government house for God knows how long. Then this situation comes along and
ruins it. I truly am sorry." Archie looked to the soft ground beneath his
feet in guilt.
Hornblower approached his friend. His placed his good hand on Archie's
shoulder. "Your apology is accepted, Mr. Kennedy." He told him with a grin.
It always amazed Archie how Horatio could smile even in the grimmest of
times. This time will probably rank the most memorable.
The two men walked toward the pile of rubble to see if there was anything
that they could possibly salvage.
As Hornblower bent down to dig his cloak out, he hissed in pain. Archie went
to him. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"I don't know. I injured my arm somehow when falling down the cliff, when
that was all over I found myself in a hole with a twisted ankle. I must have
made them worse when I climbed out."
"Here, Horatio. You should sit." Archie guided him to a nearby boulder.
Hornblower sat down, grateful for the pleasure of taking the weight off his
feet.
Archie wiped his hands on his uniform. "Take your coat and shirt off." He
said commandingly.
Hornblower's face reddened.
"Stop being so modest, Horatio. It's just me."
Hornblower did as he was told. He slipped off his shirt to reveal a wound,
about an inch and a half in diameter, located over the left collarbone.
Archie strained his eyes in the darkness to see the extent of damage. "Can
you move your arm?" he asked. Horatio tried, but to no avail. Archie sighed.
"I want you to keep that injury as still as possible. I won't have you doing
anymore harm to yourself. Do you hear me?" Horatio nodded. "Good. Now, I'm
going to try to build a fire. I want you to stay right there and try to
sleep." Archie walked into the woods to search for firewood.
At the same time, Hornblower pulled his shirt and coat back on carefully, and
did his best to curl up and stay warm. The distant rhythm of night sounds
eventually lulled the worn down officer to sleep.

Sir Hew's Mansion

By this time, dinner for Captain Pellew and Lieutenant Eccleston was over.
Sir Edward tried his best to keep himself interested in the over dinner
conversations, but when two of your officers are missing, it's not such an
easy task.
When as servant had finished clearing the dirty dishes and whatnot from the
table and had retreated back to the kitchen, Pellew waited for an appropriate
moment and stood from his seat. "Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse our
somewhat hasty departure, but my ship leaves port early tomorrow morning, so
William and I must be taking our leave. Good night." He bowed gracefully to
the guests and the two hosts, turned on his heel and left the room.
Eccleston was about to stand and protest but he thought it best not to
fluster his captain. So, he humbly bowed as well and followed Sir Edward.
Once he reached the main hall, the Captain was already thanking the doorman
for his things. "Captain Pellew, the Indefatigable doesn't leave until
Thursday night. What is our reason for leaving here so soon?" He asked.
"Haven't you noticed that Mr. Hornblower and Mr. Kennedy haven't arrived
yet?! Doesn't that strike you as unusual?" Pellew replied, flustered at how
unaware his Lieutenant was. "We must leave to see what might have happened to
them."
The doorman returned again, this time with Eccleston's things. The two
officers chained their cloaks around their necks and placed their oddly
shaped hats atop their heads.
Outside now, they walked back across the drive to the carriage, which was
patiently waiting for them.
"Ready to return now, Sir?" asked the driver.
"Yes, But I wish to make a few stops along the way."
"Yes, Sir."
The driver climbed up into his seat, and the two officers in theirs in the
back. With a snap of the reins, they were off again.


The small vehicle pursued its earlier path. The lit lanterns on the side
provided little light for the treacherous path before them.
Sir Edward peered out his window. He looked as the ground disappeared into
the cliff that he had passed only hours earlier. The height of it made him
slightly nervous. He looked down at his worn hands and sighed. He then
thought it best to keep looking out the window for any sign of his two
officers, and did so.
Speak of the Devil. Sir Edward did a slight double take. There, through the
trees, was the light of a fire. He squinted, perhaps trying to see if his
eyes could be deceiving him. They weren't. He leaned out of the carriage
slightly. "Stop the carriage!" He shouted.
"Here, Sir?" questioned the driver.
"Yes! Stop right here!"
The carriage came to a halt and Pellew did not hesitate to unlatch the door
and climb out. He was close to the edge now. But the firelight was still in
his view. Pellew was surprised he could see anything. It was practically
complete and total darkness out here. "Mr. Hornblower! Mr. Kennedy!" He
bellowed.
No answer.
He called once more.
Still no answer.
Sir Edward wanted to find a way down there that minute, but he thought it
better to wait until morning light. He heaved a sigh of frustration and
retreated back into the confines of the carriage.
The carriage was off again. For the first few moments, Sir Edward searched
Eccleston's inquisitive face, looking for something to say to give them both
at least some comfort. But he found none. His eyes fell from his Lieutenants
gaze.
The rest of the journey back to the Indefatigable was silent.


The morning sun gradually lit the sullen sky. Giving it, at first, shades of
dark blue, purple, then at last the beautiful shades of red, yellow, and gold.
Sophie Dylan gently pushed aside the curtains of her bedroom window. She
looked through the woods towards the place where she had set a few traps to
protect her small farm and herself from trespassers. Seeing nothing, she
crossed the room and headed downstairs for breakfast before she started her
days work.

That same sun broke through the bare branches, it lit up Archie's peaceful,
sleeping face. His face screwed up in rejection to the blinding light.
He rolled over in hopes to escape it, but he smacked into a tree trunk
instead. He cursed and settled onto his back. He was unsure of whether to
stand or not, in fear of hurting himself on something else.
He rubbed the sleepiness from his face with his hands and got to his feet. He
dusted off the dead leaves who knew what else from his worn uniform and
glanced to Horatio across from him. Horatio, the calm person he had always
been, was still sound asleep. Archie thought it best not to disturb him. He
looked to the sky, trying to determine what the time was 7 A.M.
Two things were rushing through Kennedy's mind at this moment. Trying to find
a way back to port, and breakfast. Since food is an essential part of a
human's life in order to live, he started out for food.

Meanwhile, Sophie was clearing the dishes from her own breakfast. She washed
them, and placed them neatly in the cabinet. She crossed the kitchen, fed her
Labrador, then carried her bucket of chicken feed out into the yard.
With a weary hand, she tossed the feed over the soil. A group of chickens
immediately came running forward, each attempting to beat the other to a meal.
Sophie laughed at the sight. She did every morning, and yet, she had no idea
why.
A cold wind blew forth. Sophie shivered, wrapping her arms tightly around
herself. She turned to head toward the house to get her shawl.
As she stepped off the step through the door and back outside there was a
shriek, a snap and the release of branches coming from the woods. Sophie
grinned and headed in that direction. She suddenly broke into a run. She
didn't know why. She had a feeling that she had become somewhat important to
the situation at hand.
Clinging to her handmade shawl, her blond hair flying freely behind her, she
dashed through the trees. She slowed as she came closer to where she had set
the trap. She finally stopped, her heart and breath racing.
There, hanging upside down by his ankle, was Archie Kennedy. He had an odd
look on his face, it was a mix of shock, anger and frustration.
A third person now joined the scene. It was Hornblower! He took one glance at
Archie, pointed, and doubled over in laughter.
Archie rolled his eyes and huffed in anger.
Sophie herself bit her lip to keep herself from laughing.
Archie watched from upside down as Horatio continued to roll on the ground in
hysteria.
Sophie just stared at Archie, her fingers to her lips, trying to keep her
laughter inside.
"I can assure you that I find this in no way amusing." Stated Archie angrily.
That did it. Sophie could no longer hold her emotions back. She broke into
hysterics, only to let Archie become more frustrated. He only let a few more
moments of this to go on before he shouted, "Will someone cut me down from
here, please?!"
Still laughing slightly, Sophie withdrew and small knife from her pocket and
sliced the rope.
Archie stood, dusting himself off in the process. When he turned to greet
Sophie, however, Sophie's face went blank.
As Horatio regained his composure, he stood as well.
Her eyes wide, Sophie exclaimed, "You're from the Navy?!"

"Yes, ma'am. We're officers of His Majesties Navy." Horatio reported.
"Oh, I'm very, very sorry, Sirs." She said, practically falling to her knees
before them like they were some sort of God.
"No, ma'am. It is all right. Anyone can make an honest mistake." Said Archie,
stepping forward and taking hold of her shoulder to try to take some of her
uneasiness away.
She looked up, suddenly afraid of another person's closeness.
Silence passed for a few moments while Sophie took in her present situation.
"Do you gentlemen have a place to stay? I'm curious since the woods aren't a
common place for two sailors to be."
Horatio smiled, apparently amused.
"No, ma'am. We, for the moment, have no place to stay." Archie replied.
"Well," she hesitated. "I own a farm just down the there." She explained,
pointed behind her. "I have a spare room that you can stay in."
Behind Archie, Horatio sighed slightly. The thought of actually resting in a
bed with no watch bells ringing every half-hour seemed simply wonderful.
Archie glanced back at his battered and wounded friend, then realized how his
own body ached. He was afraid of what he might find beneath his own uniform.
But, then again, it would be safer if he and Horatio were to go with Sophie.
It would save Archie any further humiliation if he were to find any more of
Sophie's traps. He smiled. "Of course, ma'am. We would be delighted."
Sophie smiled, liking the thought of having human company instead of the
animals on her farm. She turned, and began to head back to her home.
"Come, Horatio." Said Archie, inviting his friend to support himself on his
shoulder. The two hobbled along slowly, keeping Sophie in their sight.
A flashback suddenly filled Hornblower's vision. Where it took place was on
an all too familiar bridge. He glanced beside him, but instead of seeing
Archie, he saw - could it be? Mariette? No! It couldn't be! Horatio closed his
eyes tightly, attempting to send the image away. When he opened his eyes once
more, he could see Mariette lying before him dead.
The sound of Kennedy's soothing voice broke through Hornblower's trance.
They were now standing in Sophie's front room.
She carried an armful of blankets, sheets, and pillows up the stairs. She
stopped at the landing above not long afterwards and said, " Your room is now
ready, gentlemen."
Kennedy and Hornblower made their way up the narrow staircase as best they
could. Sophie then showed them their rooms down the hall.
"You have a bowl and pitcher over here under the window. A razor or two
should be around there somewhere." She explained, crossing the room. She
showed them the other things she had set up for them, then stood in the
doorway. "If there is anything else you gentlemen need, just ask." She turned
to leave, but Kennedy stopped her before she could get very far.
"We do need one thing before you go."
"Yes?"
"Your name."
"Oh yes! Silly me. I very rarely have company out here you see. I'm Sophie.
Sophie Dylan." She left before either of the two men could say anything
further.
Hornblower sat down on one of the two beds against the wall. He hissed in
pain as the weight lifted off his ankle.
In the meantime, Kennedy was sitting on the other bed. He had taken off his
coat and was now examining the damage done to it. There were a few holes and
splotches of mud. Maybe I'll ask Sophie later if she has a needle and
thread, he thought. He sighed, and draped the tattered piece of clothing over
the footboard.
Next to him, Horatio had managed to lie down. Archie looked over at him,
concerned. "How are you feeling, Horatio?" Archie asked.
"Tired and weak," he replied simply, his voice wavy.
Archie stood and moved beside his friend. He slid Hornblower's shirt off his
injured shoulder and studied the wound intently.
"Tell me, Archie," began Horatio, his eyes closed, "how do you know so much
about medicine?"
"Well, besides the fact of being in the sick berth more times than I'd care
to remember, my uncle was a doctor. He taught me a few things before I joined
the Navy. In fact, I believe my uncle might have worked with your father
before your father..." his voiced trailed off. Horatio was in enough pain
already; he didn't have to relive an old one.
Archie now moved to the wash basin and picked up the cloth that had been
sitting next to it. He crossed the room to Hornblower again. "Can you move
your arm yet?" he asked.
Horatio tried, and his arm moved ever so slightly. He was on the verge of
tears when he did so. He only hoped that Archie wouldn't ask him to do it
again.
Kennedy smiled slightly. He unfolded the long cloth and gently bound his
companions shoulder. There was not much else he could do at that point. If
only Dr. Sebastian were here... Kennedy placed a hand on Hornblower's forehead,
checking for a fever; there wasn't one. "Sleep, Horatio." Archie said softly.
He sighed and decided to take his own advice.

********************************

Archie awoke that afternoon, happy that he had finally gotten a decent rest.
He left his room, closing the door quietly behind him as not to wake Horatio.
He moved down the hall and down the stairs to find the house empty. "Sophie?"
He called.
The front door opened and Sophie entered. "Oh! You're awake," She said,
looking up at him. She closed the door behind her and hung her shall on the
hook on the wall.
Archie came towards her a little more.
"Somebody was here looking for you earlier." She stated, slipping her muddy
shoes off.
"Who?" Archie asked, worried.
"He said he was a Navy captain. Captain Pel- something. I can't quite recall
the name."
"Captain Pellew?" He asked.
"Yes! That was his name. Do you know him?"
"He's the captain of the Indefatigable, my ship."
"The what?"
"The Inde- oh never mind." Archie had his hands on his hips now, his brow
furrowed. "What did you say to the captain?"
"I said that you were both here, you were fine but Horatio was injured. He
then told me that the two of you could spend a few days leave here to
recover. I think that's what he said."
"Captain Pellew said that?!" Archie was surprised at the action his captain
took with this situation. He figured that maybe the captain wasn't that
concerned with this incident. Although, he should be. Pellew is concerned
with everything these days. Archie laughed.
"What's so funny?" Sophie asked.
"Nothing." He shook his head and sighed. As he stood there, he studied the
woman before him. A slim figure, long golden hair, green eyes. Archie Kennedy
had always been careful about who he said was beautiful. But, this time,
there was no reason to be careful. He was about to say something, but caught
himself by biting his lip and left the room.
Sophie watched him leave with a gentle smile, then went upstairs to change
out of her work clothes.

A few days later, after having a few days rest, Archie was back to his old
self, even though most of his body was bruised. Horatio could move his arm
freely now and he hardly limped when he walked.
"Archie, one thing I don't understand." Hornblower asked over breakfast.
"What's that, Horatio?"
"I don't understand why you became a naval officer and not Dr. Sebastian's
medical assistant."
Archie laughed. "Well, if you want me anywhere near you with a surgical knife
you must be suicidal!"
Hornblower laughed and returned to his breakfast.

A few moments later, a shot rang out outside.
Kennedy looked at Hornblower and vice versa. Kennedy went pale; he knew that
Sophie was out doing early morning farm work.
Both men dropped their forks and knives and ran out the door.
The entire world fell apart as Archie saw Sophie lying in her field.
"SOPHIE!" He screamed, racing towards her.
A few more shots were heard.
Hornblower, still a little ways behind, was stopped by a familiar voice.
"Mr. Hornblower!"
He turned. "Captain Pellew, Sir! Mr. Eccleston!"

She had been attacked and shot by French soldiers. Their bodies lay a few
feet away from the two of them. They were killed by the Indy's captain and
Lieutenant.
Archie picked up Sophie, cradling her in his arms as he sat there.
Sophie stared up at Archie, tears of pain rolling down her cheeks. "I'm
sorry, Archie." She winced.
Archie looked down at her, tears threatening to come on.
"I should have Ä " she began between gasps.
"Shh Ä " Archie caressed her cheek now, trying to comfort her somewhat.
Sophie sobbed, her eyes tight, as an immense wave of pain seethed through
her. She let her hand land on Archie's soft cheek. Her slender fingers left
red streaks as her hand moved to the back of his head. She was acting like
Archie were her life and she was holding on to it. She swallowed hard as she
stared up at the blue sky above her.
Archie took the hand behind his head in his now. He held it over Sophie's
middle and stroked it gently. "I love you Sophie," he said finally. He had
never said those words before to her, he was too afraid. But, he thought now
was as good a time as any. Archie would never get the chance to after this.
Sophie looked up into Archie's blue eyes. "I love you too Archie." She
managed a weak smile. She gasped suddenly and her entire body grew tense.
Archie felt her hand tighten around his. His breath caught in his throat as
he watched her.
Sophie's green eyes were wide as she stared up the sky, terrified. She ever
so slowly exhaled, her precious life leaving with her breath. Her body went
limp and her gaze blank.
Archie stared down at her. A sob broke out and he wrapped his arms around her
lifeless form. He gently rocked back and forth, burying his sobs in her neck
and shoulder.
Hornblower approached him. "She's gone, Archie." He laid a hand on Archie's
shoulder.
Kennedy took one last long look at Sophie's now peaceful face. He let a
shaking hand softly run down her face, closing her eyes for the last time.
"Come, Archie."
Kennedy gently laid Sophie's body on the grass next to him and stood. "We
can't leave her here like this, Horatio," he said between tears.
Hornblower looked down at the body now, tears about to come along as well. "I
know, but there isn't much else we can do."
Kennedy looked up into Hornblower's grief stricken face. He felt his lip
begin to tremble once again. He tried his hardest to hold his emotions in,
but failed and ended up burying his face in his companion's shoulder.

Captain Pellew watched this across the field. His gaze fell to the grass
under his feet as sympathy for his two young officers overwhelmed him. Why
does war have to be so damn despondent? He asked himself. He sighed.

"When someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once, you lose them
in pieces over time." - Simon Birch

The End