The Trick
by Lady Laura

Author's note: Marion Driskell is my own creation, she reflects me,
please do not use her in your own stories. Thanks.
-Lady Laura


Mary Driskell was with Horatio on the bridge section of the Indefatigable, talking with him as his watch came to a end. She brushed her sweat-dampened hair away from her face as she looked at Horatio, who was gazing at her.

" If I could, I'd jump in that water for a cool swim." she smiled.

" You can swim?" Horatio teased her. She swatted at him playfully.

" Well, what do you think?" she indignantly said, putting her hands on her hips.

Horatio dared not say anything against her. Instead, he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her deeply.

" You truly are the devil, Horatio!" she grinned.

" Oh, really?" Horatio imitated her.

" Yes! I dare argue it in front of you!" Mary gave him a saucy look.

" Time for my watch!" another voice piped up.

" Ah, Mr. Kennedy! How are you today?" Mary asked him.

" I'm fine." Archie squinted because of the bright sunshine. He took up his post as Horatio and Mary walked around the Indy, talking away.

On the bridge, Captain Pellew watched the couple. He was glad that Horatio had found someone, and he felt the same towards Mary. Pellew had known her longer than he had known Horatio, and often thought of her as a daughter.

" Good day, Edward!" Mary's boisterous voice trumpeted. Pellew whirled around.

" Good day, Mary, Mr. Hornblower." Mary put her arms on the railing, watching the Indy sail towards Portsmouth.

Pellew and Horatio exchanged a look. Mary had seemed a little distant recently.

" Is everything all right, Mary?" Pellew asked her. She straightened up.

" I'm fine, Edward. I was just thinking that this time last year, I discovered my father had died at sea by that pirate raid. Excuse me, gentlemen." Mary left the bridge, going down below to her quarters that were beside Horatio and Archie's cabin.

" I'll go and see her soon, after I give her some time." Horatio sighed.

" Sounds like a good plan, Mr. Hornblower." Pellew agreed.
The last thing Mary wanted was comfort. She got into her quarters, closed the door, picked up her journal, and wrote out her feelings.
When she was done, she cried quietly, then allowed herself to fall asleep. Horatio poked his head in, but did not have the heart to disturb her. He went to his cabin, where Archie was, sound asleep.

Pellew was awake in his cabin, staring at the ceiling, wondering about Mary. She acted like everything was all right, but he knew better. Even Horatio's division, who had come to like her, had noticed something was up. Mary would walk around the ship listlessly, deep in thought.

Matthews had told Pellew that Mary had climbed the ratlines to the fighting top, and stood there for a few minutes, climbing down shortly after she got there.

And yet, Pellew wondered if Mary was thinking about her father to avoid thinking about her mother's funeral, which she was going to attend to, with Horatio. He would protect her from her nasty sisters, and see that she got her inheritance without trouble.

Archie and Pellew would be in town, of course. Mary said that she'd probably be given a old farm that had been in her family for generations. Her sisters had no interest in farm work, whereas Mary enjoyed it. She especially loved caring for animals.

Sleep was not coming for Pellew, so he got up and walked abovedecks for awhile, seeking comfort from the stars. He stood in one place and let his thoughts wander inside his head until he felt sleepy enough to try again.

" Cap'n Pellew?" asked a timid voice. Pellew visibly jumped.

Styles was looking at him questioningly.

" What is it, Styles?"

" If ye want to know where Ms. Driskell is, she just went back to 'er quarters, sir."

" What was she doing up here?"

" She told me she couldn't sleep, sir. I talked to her until she wanted to try again to sleep."

" Thank you, Styles." Pellew walked away. He went right down to Mary's quarters, knowing she would refuse the comfort he would offer her, but he'd still try.
Mary was in a deep troubled sleep when Pellew arrived. He sat down next to her, not willing to disturb the sleep she desperately needed.

" No Sarah, . . no!" Mary jolted awake, her nightmare slowly fading from her mind.

" Shhhh, Mary! Try not to disturb Mr. Hornblower and Mr. Kennedy." Pellew shushed her. Mary blinked, still seeing her nightmare.

Pellew put his hand on her forehead, calming her down. He asked her what was bothering her.

" I told you before, this is the time of year my father died."

" Yes, I also think you are thinking of that in order to avoid thinking about your mother's funeral."

" You know, Edward, you could be a mind reader. You know me so well." Mary smiled as Pellew's hand went down to her left cheek. She put her hand over his and looked into his eyes.

" Go to sleep, Mary." he told her.

" Aye aye, Edward." she mocked him, but fell asleep.

Pellew was still there, gazing at Mary when Matthews found him a few minutes later.

" Sir." he whispered, not disturbing Mary. Her eyes flew open, hearing the door open.

" What is it, Matthews?" Pellew straightened up.

" The survivor that we picked up from that French frigate has gotten loose. He's holding Mr. Kennedy hostage."

" Where are they?"

" Up on the foc'sle, sir."

" Thank you, Matthews." Pellew left, unaware that Mary was following him, quickly forming a plan.
Pellew stood on the bridge, demanding to know how the prisoner had escaped.

" McAnn dropped the keys on his way out, sir." Mr. Bowles told him.

" Appearently he was so preoccupied, he didn't even notice."

Horatio and Pellew came near the prisoner, demanding that he release Mr. Kennedy. The Frenchman smiled slyly, and squeezed Archie so tight that he passed out. Horatio was furious, but he managed to keep calm.

Mary slunk behind the Frenchman, thinking it was good his back was turned, and she got up close to him, signaling Pellew and Horatio to keep the man distracted.

They understood. Mary signaled for Horatio to grab Archie when she struck. He acknowledged this as Mary tapped the Frenchman on the shoulder.

He turned around, and Mary chose that moment to strike him on the face, causing him to fall back and release Archie from his hold, falling into Horatio's arms. Pellew watched as Mary kicked that Frenchman's ass.

Mary, in her struggles to contain the Frenchman, knocked over a big coil of rope that stretched all the way down to the water. She had him facing backwards, about to knock him over the edge, when he lost his balance, and in trying to anchor himself to the deck, he grabbed Mary, and both went overboard.

" MARY!" Horatio screamed, rushing to the edge of the railing. Mary didn't even scream, and Horatio didn't see where she landed in the water. He turned to Archie, who was waking up.

" Horatio. . what happened?" he asked, dazed.

" Some French prisoner was holding you hostage. Mary saved you."

" Where is she? I must thank her." Archie started to get up, but Horatio pushed him back down.

" She-" he got cut off when he heard a rattling sound.

" Mary's coming up!" Matthews shouted, lending Mary his strong hands to hold on to while he and Styles pulled her up.

" Thank you, boys!" Mary's cheerful voice sounded. She went to Archie, kneeling down to help him to sick berth.

" Are you all right, Archie?" she asked.

" I'm fine. You?"

" I'm great! I needed that swim!" she grinned as she helped Archie to the sick berth.

Archie was settled in a hammock, resting comfortably. Mary was cold as she went back to her quarters, changing, and falling asleep.
The next day, Mary was not up. She had a mild fever, and was transferred to the sick berth where Archie was.

" Archie will remain here for a few days, It will take longer to know if he has a concussion." Dr. Sebastian told Pellew and Horatio.

" And Mary?" Horatio asked.

" She's got a cold, and will be here for a few days until that fever disappears."

Horatio went over to her side. Mary opened her eyes and looked up at him.

" Where am I, Horatio?"

" You're in the sick berth. You've got a mild fever, it shouldn't last long. We'll be in Portsmouth before you know it." he said encouragingly.

" Portsmouth?" Mary closed her eyes as Pellew came over to her.

" How is she, Mr. Hornblower?"

" She seems confused, sir." was all Horatio said as both gazed down into her sleeping face.

" Dr. Sebastian says that this cold shouldn't last long." was all Pellew said, but Horatio knew what he was thinking. What if she was so sick, she couldn't attend her mother's funeral? She had made it clear that she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she missed it.

" I'll stay by her side. Captain Pellew sir, you should get some rest. You look like you need it." Horatio settled down in a chair.

Captain Pellew did not deny it. He looked at Mary, asleep in her hammock, and at Archie, resting after the Frenchman held him hostage, and left.
He walked among the decks for nearly a hour, wondering what the future holds for him, and trying to forsee it. On his way back into his quarters, he came across Styles.

" 'Ow is Mary, sir? I heard that she was sick."

" She is sick, but not too bad. Mary will be up before long."

" That's good news, sir. Myself, Matthews and Oldroyd are worried about her." Styles fixed Pellew with his gaze.

" As am I, Styles. She is to attend a funeral when we reach Portsmouth. I'm worried about how she will handle it."

" I have a feeling she will do fine, sir." Styles remarked.

" I must get back to my cabin, Styles. Good night." Pellew walked away.

" Good night, sir." Styles got back to work with Matthews.

Four hours later, Pellew woke up after a nightmare about Mary. He had dreamt that she was on the fighting top with Horatio, and both were shot. Pellew had seen both fall from the fighting top into the ocean below. Archie, Matthews and Styles retrieved Horatio and Mary. Dr. Sebastian had patched them up the best he could, but there was no hope. They both slipped farther away by the minute.

Archie and Pellew struggled to keep them alive, but it was futile. Horatio had died first, and Mary was dying rapidly. She took her hand, and brushed away a strand of Pellew's hair that had come undone, her hand leaving red streaks on his cheek. He took her hand and closed his eyes. Mary gasped suddenly, and died. Pellew and Archie buried them at sea, and both went on in life never quite the same.

Pellew rose and looked out the windows to the sea. A sudden drop of water splashed down on the deck. He looked, and felt the tears cascading down his cheeks.

What kind of captain am I, getting upset over a dream? He scolded himself.

A knock at the door startled him out of his musings.

" Come." he said. Horatio entered.

" Sir, Mary's fever has broken. She will remain in sick berth until tomorrow, then she can be moved to her own quarters. Mr. Kennedy will be able to start his duties again tomorrow." he reported.

" Excellent, Mr. Hornblower." Horatio turned to leave, but Pellew called him back.

" Are you sure you want Mary to go to the funeral tomorrow? I'm most afraid of how she will handle it. Mr. Kennedy and I will be in the vicinity, of course. But I fear her reaction. She's already suffered the loss of her father, and this, it might push her off the edge." he confessed.

" I think she can handle this, sir. She's handled so many other things in the past." there was a hint of laughter in Horatio's eyes.

" True. Thank you for telling me, Mr. Hornblower. Go get some rest, if you can."

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio left.
Pellew went to visit Mary, who was allowed to go back to her own quarters to recover. She looked up from the book she was reading, and said, " Come in."

He entered her room, leaving the door ajar. Mary sat up in her bed, setting the book down.

" How are you feeling?" he asked her.

" Better." she grinned. Pellew did not grin back. He had to address what was on his mind to her, even if it meant her getting angry at him.

" You have not really seemed yourself recently. It seems like a act. Are you thinking about your father instead of your mother's funeral, or am I just acting like a idiot?"

" You're right, Edward. I think about my father to avoid thinking about my mother's wake. Horatio has agreed to go with me, as I'm sure you know." Mary looked into Pellew's eyes. He clasped his hand over hers firmly.

" I just worry about how you will handle this." he confessed.

" Thank you for the concern, but I am certain that I will handle this just fine. I'm not afraid of my emotions, not like Horatio." Mary smiled.

" Don't let him hear you say that!" Horatio always acted stoic and firm. It was like he didn't have other emotions, but he did, just never expressed them. In a way, Archie brought out Horatio when he was acting goofy, joking around. Mary brought out his passionate and sensitive side, Pellew brought out the officer in Horatio.

" We arrive in Portsmouth tomorrow. You better get ready. The funeral starts at 1 P.M., right?"

" Yes. Good night, Edward." Mary lay back down, and closed her eyes. Pellew checked her for a fever, and did not find one.

" Good night, Mary." he left.

About two hours later, Horatio peeked his head in.

" Mary." he said. Mary woke up.

" Horatio! To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"

" You know." Horatio lifted her into his arms, necking her. Mary pretended to hate it, but that only made him more determined.

Finally, Mary surrendered. She and Horatio spent the night together before they went ashore tomorrow.
The next day, Horatio woke up, seeing Mary curled up next to him. He gently kissed her, and stroked her hair. She stirred, but did not wake up.

Horatio smiled. Mary had been the soundest sleeper in the bunch, Archie was the lightest sleeper. Pellew and Horatio were somewhere in between.

A few minutes later, Mary woke up. She smiled at Horatio, who embraced her.

Finally, they had to get up and go ashore.

Mary appeared in her black clothes, and let Horatio help her into the jollyboat which also had Archie and Pellew. Mr. Bracegirdle was in charge of the moored ship until Pellew returned.

" I wonder how much my sisters have changed." she said as Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd rowed. Horatio squeezed her hand.

" Don't worry. You'll be fine with me." he told her, looking into her brown eyes.

" I feel safe with either you, Archie, or Edward. If it was really bad, I would trust my life to you." she addressed them all.

" I hope it never comes to that." Horatio let Mary snuggle up against him. He put his arms around her, as it shielding her from harm. Pellew and Archie exchanged glances, and smiled.
When the boat was docked, Horato assisted Mary up, and they both went to a local inn, and checked in.

" Well, on to my father's estate." Mary muttered.

" Good luck, Mary." Archie embraced her.

" I make my own luck, Archie, but thank you." she smiled.

" We shall be back in a few hours." Horatio announced as a public carriage drew up. He helped Mary in, and stepped in himself.
It took half a hour to reach Lord Driskell's estate, Mary's family didn't live far from town. The carriage stopped, Horatio helped Mary out, and they went into the mansion.

" How did your father get so rich?" Horatio asked, offering Mary his arm.

She took it. " My grandfather owned several fishing fleet businesses. Over time, he made it very successful by switching from building fishing boats to frigates."

They entered the living room, Horatio politely trying not to gawk. He looked around for a moment, and snapped back to Mary. She looked white in the face, but maintained her composure.

Two other young ladies entered the room, Horatio supposed they were the cruel sisters who beat Mary at any cause.

They certainly looked rich enough. Both had on tons of jewelry, and seemed to have the rich air by the way they walked and talked.

" Are they it?" Horatio gestured.

" Yes, Horatio. The one in the dark blue is Jessica, the one in the black is Sarah. She's the oldest of us. I'm the youngest." Mary answered.

At that moment, the sisters saunteered up to Mary.

" Mary, darling! How good it is to see you again!" Sarah said. Mary managed to hide her disgust.

" Where have you been?" Jessica asked.

" I've been in Gibraltar." Mary tried not to show her annoyance.

" Really." Sarah raised her eyebrows. Horatio took a immediate dislike to the sisters.

" Who's this?" Jessica snapped her fan shut, eyeing Horatio.

" This is Horatio Hornblower, lieutenant of His Britannic Majesty's frigate, Indefatigable." Horatio bowed.

" Nice to meet you, sir." Jessica and Sarah curtsied daintily.

" Everyone out to the cemetary to perform the ceremony!" the priest called.

" Excuse us, Mary, Mr. Hornblower." Mary's two sisters left in a fog of perfume.

Mary took Horatio's arm, and they walked to the cemetary that was not far from the estate.
At the same time, Archie and Pellew were talking as they strolled around the waterfront.

" It is good to have you back, Mr. Kennedy."

" It is good to be here, sir."

" I trust Horatio told you what happened to Jack Simpson?" Pellew half expected Archie to have a seizure.

He didn't. " Yes, I know. I wish I was there to witness it."

" But that's in the past. All I know is that Horatio and you are very happy without him around."

" Yes. I am very glad that Horatio has found Mary." Archie said, changing the subject. Pellew allowed this as they walked silently for a few more minutes.

" What really happened to him at Muzillac? I never expected him to cry in front of me. It's not just the battle, is it?"

" He lost a love, sir. It was extremely hard for him to cope. He was helping her to get to us on the other side of the bridge, when she was shot. Poor Horatio. I knew he would let the bridge blow up and be prey to the Frogs, but I couldn't help running across the bridge to save him."

Pellew absorbed this. Horatio had sworn to bring this girl back, he had attempted to do so, but she was shot and killed.

" Mr. Hornblower is lucky to have a friend like you, sir." Pellew told him. Archie turned beet-red.

" Thank you, sir."

" As I understand it, Horatio is going to be assigned to another ship, you as well I believe."

" Sir?"

" The HMS Renown."

" With Captain Sawyer?" Archie was incredulous.

" Yes, Mr. Kennedy. Come, let's go back."
Horatio and Mary stood with her two sisters during the service, and listened to Reverend Martin as he preached.

Afterwards, they attended the reading of the will. Mary was left with her mother's run down old farm, and a share of the fortune.

They went to their carriage to go back to Archie and Pellew, when Mary's sisters stopped them.

" Aren't you going to stay for dinner, Mary?" Sarah purred.

" No, thank you. Mr. Kennedy and Edward would wonder where we were." Mary climbed in.

" Sir Edward?" Jessica asked.

" Yes. He's doing quite well." Horatio said shortly as he got himself into the carriage.

" 'Bye, darling. We shall miss you." Sarah said, giving Mary a fake smile.

" Good day, ladies." Horatio shut the door, and they were off.

" We get the fortune and the estate. She gets a share of it, and the old farm." Jessica remarked.

" She has strung along Mr. Hornblower. I wonder if it'll last." Sarah mused.

" I doubt it. Mary hasn't the way with men like we do." the sisters laughed as they went inside.
Mary chatted with Horatio about the funeral on their way back to the inn.

" Your sisters, I don't like them." he said as Mary leaned against him.

" That makes two of us, I believe." Mary closed her eyes.

" I wonder about them." he said thoughtfully.

" Hmmm." Mary was falling asleep.

" I'll protect you from anything, Mary. I love you." he whispered into her ear. Mary did not reply. He put his head on top of hers, and fell asleep too.
Pellew and Archie were in their rooms at the inn when they heard the carriage pull up and stop. They both went to see Horatio and Mary.

Horatio was sound asleep. Archie shook his shoulder, and he woke up. He looked at Mary, picked her up. and brought her to the inn room she shared with Pellew.

Archie opened the door, Horatio set Mary down on her bed, and pulled up the covers.

Mary stirred, and opened her eyes. Horatio knelt down next to her.

" It was a nice service." he told her. Mary agreed.

" Horatio, tell Edward and Archie about. . my. . " she trailed off as sleep once again overtook her.

" Shhhhh." he put his finger up to her lips as she fell silent, collapsing back into sleep again.

Archie and Pellew could not have been more touched by the scene before them.

They took Horatio down to the local tavern for a beer, while he told them about the funeral he had just accompanied Mary to.

" I met her sisters. I don't like them." he commented, remembering the rich air they had, the phony smiles and concern they showed.

" You and me, Mr. Hornblower." Pellew agreed.

" Tell me, Horatio, sir." Archie demanded.

" Well, her sisters are the nastiest I have ever met." Pellew began.

" Mary seemed like the practical one that offset her sisters, and they wanted her to be just like them. She didn't want any of it, of course. Sarah, the oldest, subjected her to cruel beatings and punishment. Similar to the gauntlet that we have on board the ship, floggings and all. Mary was beaten for pretty much no reason at all. I once saved her from the most cruel of them all. She was tied down, and her sisters were punching her all over her body. I was never so horrified and disgusted in my life." Pellew sighed.

" Course, she's got a better life with us, out on the sea. I wish she could stay with us."

" Me too." Archie drained his mug.

" Those sisters MAKE ME SICK! From what they put Mary through, to the way they put on their fancy rich air. It's a wonder why nobody ever taught them not to be the way they are today. I hate it when rich people just slide through life like that, not even caring about their family."

Archie blushed and looked down.

" You must remember Horatio, that being a aristocrat comes with duty and obligation. Sometimes they may forget that they have children." he spoke up.

Horatio remembered Archie had been abused as a child just because he had seizures.

" You and Mary are alot alike, Archie. I thank God daily that I have come to known both of you." Horatio said sincerly.
By the time they retired to their rooms, Horatio insisted checking on Mary. He opened up the door. Pellew nodded as Horatio went to Mary's side. She was still deeply asleep.

Horatio brushed her hair away from her face, and held her hand for a moment.

Pellew watched him, wishing that Mary would wake up and see the love in Horatio's eyes as he watched her sleep.

Mary did wake up. She looked right into Horatio's dark brown eyes, and didn't say a word. They kissed deeply, and Mary fell right back asleep after the kiss.

" Until tomorrow, my love." Horatio whispered to her, pulling up the covers. He left, saying good night to Pellew, who got into his nightclothes, and went to bed also.

Pellew smiled as Horatio walked out and shut the door. He had never seen that side of Horatio before, and it was kind of weird, in a way.
The next day, they got instructions to get to the farm Mary was left by her mother, and they arrived at last to fix it up.

A bunch of chickens had gotten loose, Archie and Horatio were trying to capture them.

Archie remained at the barn door, picking up squawking chickens, and tossing them inside the coop. They fluttered about on their wings, clucking and scolding Archie for treating them so badly.

Archie exhaled, wishing he could get rid of the constant stink of animal dung that littered the place in excess. Mary was going to shovel up the gunk and put it in her gardens later.

" Well, that's the last of them." Horatio shut the door with a sigh.

" Let's go into the house." Mary took Horatio's arm, and they went inside to see what kind of cleanup job was needed.

Pellew was surveying the situation, and it looked pretty bad.

" You'll have enough work for awhile, Mary." Pellew grinned.

" Going back to the Indy, Edward?" she asked him.

" Yes. A captain's work is never done." he said good-bye and left.

Mary, Archie, and Horatio set to work, scrubbing. They switched off occasionally, and soon got the house to look somewhat better.

It was tiresome work, but they stuck to it. By sundown, the house sparkled in the low light.

" Want to see the lake, boys?" Mary asked, hanging up her apron.

" Sure." Archie and Horatio let Mary lead the way to the lake.
" It's beautiful here." Mary sat down on the shore, Horatio joining her.

" It's too cold for swimming, so we'll have to appreciate it out of the water." Archie spoke up.

" Indeed it is. We'll all get hypothermia if we dare to swim." Mary leaned on Horatio's shoulder. He took her into his arms.

They didn't say anything else, but were captivated by the setting sun.

About a hour later, Horatio realized they should be getting back to the farm. He alerted Archie, and then got Mary up.

" It's not a bad little farm. I guess tomorrow we'll have to tackle the livestock." Mary grinned.

" Oh brother." Horatio grumbled.

" It's not that bad for me, Horatio! I like animals." Archie trumpeted.

" I know you do." Horatio retorted, letting Mary take his arm. They all went back to the farm, where they went to bed.
The next day, Mary was out doing some farmwork when Horatio finally got up. He went downstairs to find Archie coming in through the door.

" Good day, Horatio. Or what's left of it for you." Archie joked. Horatio sat down at the table.

" Where's Mary?"

" She went to see some old friends of hers. She's got quite the social life out here." Archie pulled off his cloak.

Horatio and Archie talked for awhile, planning on what to give Mary for her birthday. She was really special, and they wanted to emphasize it in some special way.

Just then, Mary entered the house. Horatio and Archie looked up with a start. She grinned at them, taking off her gloves.

" Well boys, time to round up the livestock." she mentioned, going into her room to put on her work dress.

" Right." Horatio and Archie stood up.

" Put these on." Mary directed, holding out 2 pairs of gloves.

" I work better when my hands are free." Horatio protested.

" There's 6 young cows out there. If they bite your hands, I'm not responsible." she sighed, flinging the gloves on the table.

" All right." Horatio shoved his hands into the gloves, as did Archie. They all went outside to see a complete zoo of livestock in the backyard.

" Oh boy." Archie started.

" You take te cows, Horatio, Archie take the pigs, I'll handle the chickens." Mary directed.
Horatio put rope around the cows' horns, and led them into the barn, one by one.

Mary came over for a minute, seeing Horatio wrestle a big cow into her stall.

" Show 'em who's boss, Horatio." Mary took the rope and gave it a sharp pull. The cow relented, letting Mary put her in her stall.

" I'm going to check on Archie." she said, walking off.

Archie was successful in getting the pigs in their section of the barn. He was watching them feel out of the trough, grinning when he heard one squeal.

" Don't get too attached to them, Archie. Next fall, we always butcher one." Mary said, startling him.

" Need some help with the chickens?" Archie offered.

" No, thank you. They're all set." Mary showed him the henhouse, all scrubbed with chickens in it.

Horatio came up to them, smudged with dust and dirt. He looked exhausted.

" Everything done, Horatio?" Mary asked.

" Yes, finally. Those cows are tougher than they look." he sighed.

" Well, eat a good dinner, and you're off to bed." Mary directed.

" I'm going for a walk." she left.

" Horatio, she's acting a bit queer. I wonder if it's her mother?" Archie speculated.

" Most likely." Horatio eyed Mary as she disappeared down the wagon tracks to the lake.
Mary sat down by the lake's edge, taking in the sunshine. She relaxed, leaning back and thinking about her farm.

She didn't hear Horatio come up behind her as she was musing.

" Mary." Horatio said. Mary jumped.

" Don't scare me like that, Horatio!" she warned.

" Sorry." he sat down beside her.

" Lovely view." he pulled her into his arms.

" Yes." Mary leaned her head against Horatio's shoulder.

" You've been acting weird since the wake. Your mother?" he stated.

" Yes. I could have helped her."

" Not anymore than you already did. You were the one that didn't turn on her. I think that was good enough for her." Horatio comforted Mary.

" Where would I be without you and Archie?" she sighed.

" I have no idea." Horatio grinned.

" Come, let's go home."

" All right." Mary got up, and let Horatio lead her back to the farm.

He talked with her until she felt sleepy enough, and heard Archie come in as Mary drifted off.

" Was I right?"

" Yes. I think I've gotten her out of it." Horatio and Archie went to bed.
Late that night, Archie was awakened by a unusual smell. He identified it clearly.

" Fire! Good god, our house is on fire!" he yelled, taking his clothes, going to get Horatio up.

" Horatio! Bring water and lots of it! This house is on fire!" Archie shook Horatio awake.

Horatio grabbed his clothes, put them on, and got up water from the well. They both doused the fire, which left serious damage on the house.

" The fire's out!" Horatio shouted to Archie. There wasn't much left of the house besides a blackened frame.

" Where's Mary?" Horatio realized.

" Mary!" they both yelled for her, probing the wreckage. Archie looked around until he heard a low moan coming from under some debris. He dug through it, where he found Mary, bruised and bloody, but not seriously wounded at all.

" Archie, Horatio, I know who did this. Miss Sarah and Jessica Driskell, that's who. They tried to fence me in so I would burn to death, but I outsmarted them."

" Quick! Let's send for Captain Pellew! We must catch them!" Horatio, Archie and Mary mounted horses, and then they rode into the harbor.
" Captain Pellew, sir?" asked his servant, a stocky fellow named O' Neal.

" Yes, O' Neal, what is it?" Pellew looked up from his desk where he'd been writing a letter to the admirality.

" Mr. Hornblower, Ms. Driskell, and Mr. Kennedy have returned."

" So soon?" his pleasure was short lived as he saw his three friends, sooty, dirty, and dreary looks on their faces.

" What happened?" he asked. The three took seats, and told him everything. By the time they were done, Pellew's face had turned purple with anger.

" How dare they!" he sputtered.

" Edward, it's not that. How do we get them to admit it?" Mary took his hand, a motion which appeared to calm him down some.

" I think I may have a suggestion." Archie volunteered.

" They hold wealth in their pride, yes? So then maybe we pretend to give them back Mary's part of the inheritance, goad them into saying something incriminating about Mary's unfortunate misfortune, and there we go! I will hire a magistrate."

" Archie, Archie." Mary's eyes suddenly lit up. She could build on Archie's idea.

" What if they come to my fake funeral, you hand them back my share of the inheritence, hire a magistrate, and hopefully they'll be remorseful by my apparent demise, they'll spill something."

" Let's try it. We've got nothing to lose." Pellew agreed. They set the plan in motion for the next day.
" Miss Sarah and Jessica Driskell?" Horatio was at their doorstop. It was ten A.M. Time for the plan to be put in motion.

" Mr. Hornblower! What a pleasant surprise!" Jessica exclaimed. Sarah joined her sister on the stoop.

" It is Edward." Horatio lied.

" Sir Edward is in trouble?" Jessical had a fondness for Captain Pellew, just as Mary did.

" Yes, follow me." Horatio led them to the carriage, and drove to the church, where they had cleverly contrived a coffin for Mary, with a glass lid on the top half. That way they could see her as they played the trick.

" Mary!" Jessica exclaimed as they approached.

" What happened to her?" Sarah asked condescendingly. Horatio shot her a look. A magistrate was hiding behind the pillar closest to Mary.

Mary's eyes looked closed, but Horatio knew she was alert, listening intently.

" She's dead. There was a fire at the farmhouse." indeed, Mary had been made up to look as if she had just struggled out of a burning building. Pellew and Archie had made her up brilliantly.

" Mary was always the strongest of us all." Jessica was breaking down nicely. She pulled out a handkerchief, and blew her nose into it. Horatio's ears perked up as he listened for the incriminating evidence.

" She was always stronger than us, Sarah! How could you have convinced me to take part in your plan to burn the house down and get her part of the inheritance?" Jessica's eyes filled up, then spilled over as she carefully dabbed the tearstreaks away.

" You two planned this?" Horatio asked, cool as ice.

" It was her idea!" Jessica cried. Sarah stuttered, speechless.

" I always knew you were a tattletale." she finally spat out.

" On the contrary. Someone is a tattletale if they tell about every little thing that you did. If it involves someone's life, then you're not tattling." Horatio calmly said.

The magistrate stepped out from behind the pillar, two marines next to him on either side.

" I sentence Ms. Sarah Driskell to six months in jail, Ms. Jessica Driskell, since you confessed after your sister denied it repeatedly, I assign you the task of seeing that the farmhouse is re-built properly." the magistrate proclaimed.

When the two sisters were led away, Horatio pried the coffin open, exclaiming over their victory.

But Mary didn't open her eyes.

" Mary?" he shook her shoulder gently.

" I'm sorry, Horatio! I must have dozed off. Did I miss it?" she sat up.

" I'm afraid you did." Horatio assisted her off the platform.

" Tell me about it as we go back to the Indy."
Pellew met Jessica on the front steps of the courthouse.

" Thank you, Jessica for avenging the wrong done to Mary. She's had a rough life with Sarah, especially since your father died."

" You're entirely welcome, Sir Edward. Please tell Mary that I hope she forgives me someday. Until then, I will rebuild her farmhouse, and then I'm off to America." Jessica left.

Pellew returned to the Indy. He entered to see Horatio, on watch while Archie was inspecting the topgallant sails high overhead.

" How did she take the news, Mr. Hornblower?" Pellew asked quietly, not wanting to attract attention.

" Very well, sir. She's in her bunk right now. " Horatio told him.

" Will she see me later on?" Pellew said.

" I think so. She needs to see her friends right now. May I leave the watch early to be there for her, sir?" Horatio inquired.

" I think she can speak to Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Hornblower. Or she can come to me." Pellew gently hinted, a tinge of amusement in his voice.

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio's eyes were focusing on the distant horizon.

" Carry on then, Mr. Hornblower." Pellew returned Horatio's salute, and then went to his cabin.
A familiar voice was prodding Mary back to her awake. Her eyes flickered, and she recognized Pellew's voice.

" Mary?" he asked.

" It's Edward, Mary."

" Edward, I don't really want to talk right now. I hope you understand."

" Of course, Mary. But we're here for you. Sometimes talking about it helps." he said, then left.

Mary lay awake for twenty minutes after that. She considered what Pellew had said, then she decided to wait until Horatio came in from his watch.

She stayed awake, gazing at the ceiling, thinking about her past. Mary had been the tomboy of the group. Sarah and Jessica were tall, willowy and ladylike. Mary had liked to take off her dress, and go climb trees with the other boys. She had been their friend, even if she was a girl.

Then the years had gone by. Mary was growing up, and she realized it wasn't ladylike for a woman to climb trees and have friends that were boys. She had tried to be like her sisters, but they had always excluded her from their activities.

One day, Sarah told Mary just what she thought of her.

" You're only bound to us by name! You're not part of this family at all! Mary, you're a sniveling little tomboy who likes to run around and climb trees. After you've done that, you can't expect a good character. You'll never be hired for anything. You'll be begging on the streets." Sarah had turned and flounced away.

Mary let silent tears flow down her cheeks, thinking of that memory. But she smiled as she remembered what had followed.

Her mother had gathered her up in an embrace, then comforted her. Mrs. Driskell tried to punish Sarah, but Sarah resisted, and ran off.

Mary was startled out of her thoughts by Horatio coming in the outer hall. Horatio was done his watch. Time for her to pour her heart out to him.

Horatio came in, hanging up his raingear. Mary watched him silently as he settled onto his bed, then he finally looked at her.

" What's wrong, Mary?" he asked. Mary couldn't speak, just let out tears. She sobbed wordlessly. Horatio opened his arms, and she practically flew into them. He hugged her, stroked her hair as she poured out her feelings and hurt to him in a torrent of words.

Archie and Pellew were walking nearby, discussing the needs of the sick berth when they heard Mary's sobbing and Horatio comforting her.

Pellew and Archie saw Horatio, and Mary in his arms, reassuring her. Pellew was quite moved by the scene, and at the same time, a little envious.

" That will be all, Mr. Kennedy." he said harshly, then went to his cabin.
An hour later, Archie knocked on Captain Pellew's door.

" Come." Pellew was burying his hurt under mounds of paperwork he had to fill out, requesting a midshipman's commission, and was in no mood for small talk,

" Sir. We're heading north 'ard by the compass, and Mr. Bowles reports a steady wind that will help us along."

" Very well, Mr. Kennedy." Pellew brusqly dismissed him.

" Sir, permission to speak freely."

" Granted." Pellew finally looked up.

" Although it is of no business of mine, I noticed that you seem a bit on edge."

" Very good, Mr. Kennedy!" Pellew sarcastically said. Archie ignored him.

" I believe it is caused by you being Mary's confidante for so long, and now she's confiding in someone else. That makes you feel less important."

Pellew jumped up and began pacing back and forth, gazing out the window.

" I might suggest that you just keep cool. Just because Mary confides in not only you doesn't mean she doesn't need you as much. She needs you. Don't let her down by not being there for her when she needs you." Archie took Pellew's mood in stride, then left the captain's cabin before Pellew bit his head off in frustration.

Pellew sat down and contemplated what Archie had said. When he had first met Mary over five years ago, she had been beaten down by her sister, and left in a dark room.

He had come to her rescue, and stuck by her side when she became desperately ill. Mary had always known Pellew had been there for her. He would never stop being there for her.

On his way to talk to the ship's doctor, he peeked inside the lieutenant's room, and saw Mary and Horatio, sound asleep, lying together. Pellew smiled.

Two weeks later, Mary was up and about, doing her farm work as though she never left. Pellew, Horatio and Archie were there, being a little overprotective of her.

" Mary Driskell?" a unfamiliar voice asked. Mary whirled around from where she was playing with her dog, Jake.

" Lily!" Mary cried out.

" How are you, girl?" Lily asked her.

" Great! I haven't seen you for some time!"

" It really has been a dog's age, hasn't it?!" Lily joked.

" Come! You must meet Archie Kennedy." Mary had a sudden flash of inspiration.

" You'll like him." she took Lily to where the lake was, Horatio and Archie were wrestling in the water, with Pellew watching out for them.

" It's the easiest way for them to get their energy out!" Pellew joked, soaking up some sun. Mary smiled, and motioned for Lily to come closer.

" See the blonde? He's Archie. The brown haired one's mine! His name's Horatio!"

" Let's sneak up on them!" Lily grinned.

" Sure." Mary and Lily quietly dove into the water, and got behind Archie and Horatio.

" Mr. Hornblower! Mr. Kennedy!" Pellew said on cue. They turned to face him. Mary and Lily ducked down underwater, and came up again, yelling, scaring Horatio and Archie.

" This is Lily Brown, Archie." Mary introduced them. Archie and Lily couldn't take their eyes off each other.

The spell was broken when they heard a dog bark, and Mary saw her black labrador dog, Jake, swimming out to them.

" Jake, you rascal!" Mary laughed as Jake stuck his paws into her arms, and gave her doggie kisses.

Horatio and Mary kissed deeply as Archie and Lily chatted, getting to know each other.
One week had passed by. Pellew and Lily waited at the docks to see Mary, Archie and Horatio off. Mary wanted to sail with Horatio, and she had promised Lily she'd watch Archie carefully.

" There she is, the Renown!' Pellew pointed to the ship that had just dropped anchor next to the Indefatigable.

" We might see you in Kingston, sir." Horatio shook hands with Pellew.

" Be careful Mr. Hornblower." he said the same to Archie as they filed into the jollyboat.

" One stop in Plymouth, and we're on our way. I'll miss you, Edward." Mary hugged him.

" Just be careful!" he teased her.

" Aye aye, sir." Mary teased, and went into the jollyboat, seeing Archie kiss Lily goodbye.

" I'm happy Archie found someone." she leaned against Horatio as the boat shoved off.

" As am I, but I am happy you're not dead." Horatio and Mary kissed.

Pellew was watching them. He turned away, and went to the Indy to get to Jamaica.

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