The Uninvited
by Marijke

Part 11

After Hornblower had dismissed the other two groups, he had fully focused on his own group. Kennedy had told him, that no-one of the crew knew where they held captain Pellew, although they had an idea where they held the midshipmen. Probably in the same northern tower. Only then above the ground. With their group Kennedy and Hornblower had left the cell and moved towards the stairs.

When they reached the stairs and climbed them. They found several bodies laying stifles on the stoned steps. Probably the results of their scouting groups.
The cleaning and bandaging of Archie’s wounds had helped a bit, but still Archie’s face was pale and his forehead was wet from transpiration.

All thought Kennedy had fought very bravely against the guards, who had stand before their crew’s cell. It was better if more fighting could be prevented. They had their crew after all, and those men were eager to take revenge.

“Les Anglais!”

*bang* some shots hit their group. Horatio saw five of his men fall. “Damn” he muttered. “Get them men!” he shouted. A short fight followed. But finally the resistance was gone. They had killed ten Frenchmen, but it had cost eight brave lives.

The reward was that they had reached another door. The group of men must have guarded it. When they tried to open it, it was locked. “Search the Frogs pockets, look for a key” Kennedy said, turning a body on it’s back, to examine it.

“I’ve found it sir!” one of the youngster had a key ring in his hand.

“Excellent” Archie smiled. “Now open the door”

They swiftly opened the door and their guess was right. Hornblower, with a torch in his hand peered in the room. “Well done men!” he shouted happily. “We found our midshipmen. “Please hurry, Mr Peters, you too Mr Landon.”

Kennedy counted ten men, who came out of the cell. He was relieved to see, that these men were unharmed. Probably they weren’t interesting for Thompson and his men. He was surprised when he recognised a marine collared jacket, it was the captain of the marines. Archie glanced at Horatio, saw that he had the same plan in his head and said:

“Mr Clark, please take half of our group with you and make for the Indefatigable. When you reach it, you will see that our men already have concurred it. You will command them and make sure that they will hold the ship, whatever the loss.”

Mr Clark looked at the lieutenant. “Yes sir” he saluted.

“Take the weapons of the French here” Kennedy continued. “Mr Peters, Mr Landon, you’re with us, the rest of you gentlemen follow Mr Clark.”

“What of you sir?” Mr Clark asked, he had not missed the blood on Kennedy’s shirt, but he had also noticed the determine look and didn’t want to upset the young man.

“We’re going to find captain Pellew. When we have succeed, we will meet you on the Indy.” Hornblower answered for him. “Another thing, Mr Clark” Kennedy looked at the taller man. “A group who is being led by my division will try to save the Interceptors. After you have secured the ship, it’s your duty to give that group your full support.”

“Aye, aye sir!” Clark assembled his group of twenty men, gave some orders, checked if they had enough weapons and left.

Hornblower looked around. Archie’s commands made sense. He had thought of them himself. There group was too large. They would me sensed, sooner or later. It was more prudent, to search the captain’s cell, with a smaller group. As long as the Indy was save, they would have a place to retreat and by sending captain Clark and some midshipmen and their gunner, they would have officers who would lead the men. Their group exists besides him and Archie, of Mr Peters and Mr Langdon and eighteen sailors.

“Archie” Horatio glanced sideward. “You know more about castles then anyone else, where do you think they would hold captain Pellew?”

Kennedy lowered his head. He didn’t want the men to see the painful memories, who where very close  at the surface at the moment, besides it helped him think better. Horatio noticed it of course, Archie could see it.

“I think they would have locked him in the old armoury. In Medieval times, it’s a strong, stoned room. It’s not so far from the grand hall, so they would have a easy excess to the cell and it’s more comfortable then our own cells.”

Horatio frowned in concentration. “Where would be that room located?”
Archie smiled “If my guess is right, I think at the eastside of the fortress. The fortress is build to control both the port as the land. The danger must have came and is still coming from the sea, that is as you’re well aware the west side of the castle. For the defenders it’s very important to defend your supplies, even in those days, so they build the armoury at the eastside”

Archie grinned. “I wonder why you didn’t figure this out yourself Horatio” he teased.

“You’re right Mr Kennedy, but otherwise you couldn’t make yourself useful” Horatio joked. He wanted to lift the anxiety from Archie’s eyes and he could see that it had worked. “Very well, we go east. Take as many arms you can carry and please be quiet. We have to surprise them.”

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Matthews took a deep breath. It the night, the air had lost the heat of the day and without the burning sun, the temperature was pleasant. It was lovely to smell the fresh sea air. The group of hundred men had worked efficiency. They had soon reached the gates. The guards had offered heavy resistance and a lot of the Indy had died or were wounded, but after the gate, the remaining seventy men hadn’t found much oppression. It seemed like the guards were caught unaware or their escape attempt.

That was very good, but Matthews knew that it would not stay that way. He had to make precautions. At this moment he missed officers. A cool head, who knew what to do and who could command. But thank god, the men had listen to him, knowing that his commands made sense.  He had send men, to prepare the sails, other men to search for the munitions and other supplies and the remaining seamen to stand guard and care for the wounded.

Matthews was concerned for the other groups, especially the group of Mr Hornblower and Mr Kennedy. God, how the two lieutenant had looked. The sharp cry of Mr Kennedy, the bruised face of Mr Hornblower, the cleaning of the wounds. Matthews took a deep breath, it was just awful. He wondered what the two men had experienced and decided that it was better that he didn’t know.

Didn’t know, but he suspected it. He had seen it in the eyes of both men.
“Mr Kennedy saved me. After the.. the flogging.. we where separated. Apparently Mr Kennedy managed to get out and then went for me.”
And then his own question, “Where there no guards sir?” and the horrified response “Well there.. there was a.. a guard, but..”

Something terrible must have happened to Mr Hornblower, but somehow Mr Kennedy must have saved him.  Matthews knew what must have happened, what caused the horrified reaction and was extremely grateful of Mr Kennedy’s courage and prayed that the young man would hold it somewhat longer. They could use it.

“Matthews!” a sharp cry, made Matthews flinch. It was Styles.

“Someone is coming! All men take your positions!” the yell was clear, but Matthews could hear the tension. ‘Damn, why had they do this without any officers.’ He was glad that at the moment the men didn’t need them, but Matthews knew out of experience that when the battle was more tense, they needed one. Their lives depended on them.

At that moment Oldroyd appeared on the deck. “We found the weapons Styles. There’re lots of the them. Those Frogs haven’t touch them.”

“Hurry men” Matthews voice sounded panicked “Grab a weapon and aim, they are very close!” He saw that a dozen of men had already grabbed one and where aiming at the coming group. Matthews was amazed that such a small group would approach them, but perhaps they didn’t knew that The Indy was in their hands.

It was Oldroyd who yelled “That man looks like Mr Clark!”

“My God Oldroyd, you’re right. Hold your fire!” Styles shouted. “They are shipmates. Let them come aboard and give them backup.”

It wasn’t necessarily, the small group could come aboard, without much problems. One of the midshipmen was wounded, but doctor Hepplewhite was already attending the young man. When the group reached the quarterdeck, it was Mr Clarke who took command.

After he had listened to Matthews and Styles who reported to him, he explained them what had happened with the group of Mr Kennedy and Mr Hornblower and what their orders where.

“Mr Clark! The gate!” one of the lookouts had spotted movements.

Clark looked at the gate and saw a large group coming. He didn’t knew if it where friends or foes, but he didn’t take any risk. “In your positions!” he barked. “You there!” he pointed at Oldroyd.

“Go below with five men and bring more of those damn muskets!”

“Aye sir” Oldroyd saluted and disappeared again below decks. Matthews looked around, after the officers had came aboard, the atmosphere had changed. Mr Clark had took command and although the man was no Navy lieutenant, he had much experience in battle situations and remained calm.

The group of men came closer. “Frontline reloaded!” Clark commanded

“Sir” one of the midshipmen looked through a spyglass “I think it’s Mr Kennedy’s division sir. They are leading the group, I recognize Scarlet”

Clark snatched the spyglass out of the hands “Give me here! You’re right Mr Martens” he looked again, then suddenly swore “Goddamn!”

“What is it sir?” Martens asked shocked. “Look Mr Martens, the French are coming and they will attack our men from behind, if we won’t act.”
The group of Scarlet must have seen the danger, because they started running. Some of the men had troubles of keeping with the group, they were wounded or just very weak, it must be the Interceptors. There were also non Navy men running. It must be the captured gentlemen Matthews thought.

“Frontline aim!” Clark barked “Fire!”

*Bang* *Bang*

Seven Frenchmen felt down. But on the walls more Frenchmen were appearing and they were shouting as well. Two men who walked behind the group fell down.

“Frontline reload!” “Fire!”

*Bang* *Bang*

Again several Frenchmen fell, the group were very close now. The first ones had reached the entry port and hauled themselves aboard. As soon as they had, they grabbed a weapon and shot on their enemies. More French troops were coming.
Styles saw that the little group of Oldroyd had reappeared with more weapons. The eagerly new men grabbed one of them and aimed at the growing Frogs.

Styles didn’t think they had much time. Most of the group were aboard. On the docks lay the laying forms of the lads who were not so lucky,

“Poor sods” he said softly. “We don’t have much time” he said to Scarlet, who was bleeding, but seemed fine. “Aye Styles, but we have to hold her. We have no other choice. Until Mr Kennedy and his men are coming, we have to..”

“You mean Mr Hornblower and his men” Styles grinned. It was a usual joke between the men of the divisions of the two popular officers, but the concerns for their superiors made the replying smile of Scarlet thin at best.  “What’s keeping them.” Scarlet grunted. “They could be here by now.” Styles didn’t answer, his easy smile vaporised and his face with a concerned look gazed at the plaza and remained at the gate. But no-one appeared.

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Thompson stood on the great wall, overlooking the gate and the harbour. His men had been to late, to stop the latest group and Thompson’s eyes flashed with anger. If that fool of a Peckham had raised the alarm sooner and hadn’t gone back to Farnsworth the whole situation would have been different. They had never have the right to underestimate Kennedy. Thompson cursed. The boy was after all a lieutenant under Pellew’s command. That proved enough about his ability, it would seemed.

“Damn” Thompson muttered under his breath. He hadn’t expect the Indy’s to be so fast. Everybody was aboard, Thompson had seen the officers were on board, but wait a moment. Thompson peered closer, The ship was still in his place and the men aboard it, had no intentions to sail away, they were instead… preparing for battle. Strange, very strange. It could only mean one thing. The captain was not on board. Those Indefatigables were so damned loyal, surely they wouldn’t leave without their captain.

It they planned this right, they could still make from this disaster a profitable outcome, they only needed captain Pellew. Thompson turned around, saw Foure and gave him the command. He called for a compliment of men and walked to the stairs. They had to go to the old armoury and they had to go there now!

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Horatio was glad, that Archie was with him. Not only because he could now keep an eye on him. Which was necessarily. Kennedy was getting paler by the minute and Horatio could sometimes see him sway. He had grabbed Archie for a number of times, otherwise afraid that the man would fall down. Archie had startles of the contact, but had also refreshed at bit.

But Kennedy had a correct insight how the French built their castles and the route to the Medieval armoury was without Archie impossible to find. Sometimes they met French guards, who had fought bravely and had taken eight sailors down with them. Hornblower was surprised at the low resistance, but perhaps the guards where at the port, trying to stop the Indy’s. Hornblower knew that his men would hold here, but felt nervous for the others. Would they have succeed, had they made it safely back to the Indy?

“We are very close now” Kennedy’s voice. “I think it’s at the end of this corridor.” He pointed with his hand to the left side. “Mr Peters, take seven men with you, see what you make of the guards and if it’s possible take them out.”

“Aye sir” the men nodded, grabbed their weapons even tighter and disappeared around the corner. A moment later shots and cries where heard. “Come on men” Horatio yelled and they all brushed forward. Mr Peters had succeed in his mission. The four French guards were dead. Kennedy saw sadly that two of their men hadn’t made it either.

“The keys?” Hornblower asked, facing the midshipman.

“We already have found them sir” Horatio took the keys and opened the door.

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Pellew was still thinking of a solution what would help his men and what would get them out of this fortress of hell. So fare nothing came it was Mr Bracegirdle who broke the icy silence. “Sir, I think I heard something”

“Heard what Mr Bracegirdle? I..” shots, Pellew heard them their selves.
“My God” Pellew’s face became pale. “What are..”

“I think it’s close sir” Bowles had jumped out of the chair and had walked to the old wooden door. “I can hear footsteps” he exclaimed. Suddenly he flinched backwards. “What’s it man.” Pellew’s voice was tense.

“Sir, someone is opening the door.” Bowles answered.

The three officers looked in fascination how the door opened.

When they recognised the faces they felt stunned.

“Mr Hornblower, I must say that is an unexpected pleasure” Pellew couldn’t hide the surprise nor the happiness to see his lieutenant. He had feared for the lad, with some concern he saw the bruises in Hornblower’s face. How the devil did he got theme. He would found that out later. “Mr Hornblower, how in earth did you found us here?”

“It was Mr Kennedy’s idea sir. He could escape and thanks to him, we are in a good position to leave this devilish place sir.” Hornblower talked fast, he wanted to give Archie all the credit he deserved.

“Mr Kennedy” Pellew hadn’t seen his young officer and when he did saw him, he became anxious. My god the lad looked like hell and was leaning against a wall. Best to get him out of here. He glanced at the two midshipmen and the eight sailors. “Mr Hornblower where are the rest of the men?” he asked worried.

“They are at the Indy sir. Mr Kennedy send Mr Clark with the other officers to accompany a group of hundred sailors sir. Mr Kennedy’s division are at the moment saving the Interceptor and we are the remaining group who have the honour to free you.” The last was said, with some remorse. Pellew distinctly knew that a lot of his men had died in the attempt for freedom.

“Very well Mr Hornblower” Pellew nodded. “I suggest that we take our leave sir.”

*bang* *bang*

Four of the seamen felt down. Hornblower swiftly turned around, but he couldn’t see anything because of the smoke. “Archie!” ‘Archie was still out there.’

“Take cover!” Archie’s voice

Again the shots.

After that, silence.

“A very interesting situation captain Pellew” the smooth and hated voice of Massey reached Hornblower’s ears. “Will you come out of your cell, with your arms up, or shall I kill one of your remaining officers, right here and now, very slowly and very painfully”

A heavy thumb and then a cry of pain.

“No” Horatio tried to run towards the door, but a strong grip stopped him. He tried to shack the hand of. He had to go to Archie. That filthy bastard wouldn’t molests his friend again. He would stop it. “Let me go!” he shouted.

“No, Mr Hornblower”

Horatio stopped, it was the captain’s voice.
“I see I have no choice.” Pellew stepped forwards. Nodding at Bowles that they held young Hornblower. When he reached the corridor, his face expressed anger. One of the midshipmen, Mr Langdon set on the ground. He held his arm, who was severely bleeding. The others were laying moving less on the ground. Then his eyes were fixed on the figures who where standing against the wall. Mr Kennedy was pressed by two men against the wall. Massey was standing next to him. The boy’s face expressed pain and something else. Pellew knew in an instant what it was, terror.

“You can leave my brave lieutenant alone” he said, trying to keep his voice calm. “He had been trough a lot, it’s no need to harm him more” the last was said with such venom, that one of the guards looked at him. “It’s me you want, so leave him alone!”

“Ah captain Pellew” a cheerful Thompson appeared. “I know now where your men get their courage from, this sacrifice. I must say sir, your officers are very good in it.”

Pellew turned around to face Thompson, but at the same time, kept Kennedy in sight. He didn’t trust Massey, not for a penny. “We are true Englishmen sir, we will stand up for our country.” He growled

“Well that’s very touching. I’m afraid our motives are somewhat less noble” Thompson laughed. “Take them!”

The guards came forward and bound Pellew, Hornblower Bracegirdle, Bowles and Mr Langdon. Horatio searched for eye contact with Archie. He had noticed that they hadn’t bind Kennedy’s hand. What were they going to do with him. Horatio feared the worst and tried to get his hands free. But the ropes were to tight.

“Fine, very fine” Massey smiled. “It’s no use Mr Hornblower. We know how to bind someone’s hands. Rest assured that we’ll bind your hands in your next cell.”
Horatio took the meaning and froze. ‘Not again!’

He saw that Archie had raised his head and was looking at him with disgust on his features. Pellew was also looking at both his lieutenants and saw the looks they gave each other. He was missing something..

“But first Mr Kennedy” Massey turned again, saw that Hornblower was watching with horror and smiled. “You, killed one of my men and as you can imagine, that is something I will never forget, nor his best friend.”

Peckham was still holding Kennedy, his heart was full of white hot fury. That English swine had killed his mate. He would pay for it and without warning he hit Kennedy in his stomach.

Kennedy felt on his knees, but was jerked back by Massey. Not so fast boy, we’re not finished with you yet!”

“Let him go!” Pellew stumbled forwards. “You would hit an unarmed and wounded man. What sort of a creature are you!”

“You don’t know half what I’m capable of” Massey exclaimed and hit Pellew in his face. “Stay out of this captain.”  Pellew stammered against Bracegirdle.

Peckham used the time to slam Archie again in his stomach. A soft cry escaped the lad and he felt down. Peckham gave the young flinching man a few kicks.

“Stop it, you’ll kill him” tears were on Horatio’s face, but he didn’t care. He had never felt so hopeless. He could straggle these men with his bare hands. But the damned rope didn’t give in.

“That’s exactly the idea lieutenant.” Thompson replied. “ This man was stupid enough to intervene your private conversation with Farnsworth and he will pay for it with his live”

“Than it will be for the greatest cause… in the world” a soft, but defying voice was heard.

“This will be the end boy” Massey grabbed his pistol and aimed it at Kennedy.

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Davies was watching the plaza, just like the other Indefatigables. The French had not tried to charge the ship, instead they were just observing them.

The midshipmen had taken the command over the sails and some time ago, the report came that the Indy was ready to go. But their officers weren’t aboard and without them, they would never go, so much was certain. But where were they?

“Scarlet, perhaps we should try to find them!” he almost run into the big man. “No lad” Scarlet took his arm in an effort to calm the younger man down. “We have no idea were they are. Besides we must we ready, when they will come. It’s no use when we are running through the castle like some silly frogs.”

“But what if something happened to Mr Kennedy and the others, what if..” Davies couldn’t finish the sentence. “He’s wounded, you saw the wounds yourself.”

“Aye, I did, but we must have hope Davies. Mr Kennedy is a very brave officer and we all know how exceptional Mr Hornblower is. They will come, rest assured.” Scarlet tried to reassure, but found it hard to do. It just took to long.

He glanced upwards to the quarterdeck. He saw that Mr Clark was organising a group who would give Mr Kennedy and the others coffer. It they would come..

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The shot baffled everybody.

‘No!! It can’t be true not Archie!”

Horatio flew his eyes open.

There was Archie, laying on the floor

Blood was running on the floor


“One more step Thompson and the next one will be for you!”

Words, but Horatio didn’t hear them


It couldn’t be

Wait a moment, the fog slowly disappeared and Horatio could think again

There was another body on the ground

It took some time to recognise him

‘My god, Massey, it was Massey

But who had shot him?’

Hornblower looked around and saw that there was a unfamiliar man holding a musket and was aiming at Thompson.

“Fuller, what the hell are you doing!” Thompson was shocked to the bone. “Your filthy bastard, you killed Massey.”

“He deserved it” Fuller was aiming, without trembling. “That filthy pig, is now in hell! I should have done it ages ago. And if you don’t want to lay beside him Thompson, I would give the order to release these men.”

Thompson stared at Fuller. He was flabbergasted. He had never imagined that Fuller would turn against him. He remembered the man on the Indefatigable. He was hesitated when he had asked for Massey. Fuller never liked the necessarily action, but now… Probably he had made a choice. Had seen the torture of Kennedy and wanted to stop it.

“Make your choice Thompson!”

Thompson knew that he didn’t had a choice. He nodded. “release them!” he barked, his eyes never left Fuller. Perhaps he would make a mistake. But Fuller remained sharp and was constantly looking at his former officer.

After Horatio’s bounds were cut, he raised forward to Kennedy.

“Archie” he touched his friend’s shoulder.

“How is he Mr Hornblower?”

Pellew was standing next to him, looking with grieve at the wounded lieutenant.

“I don’t know sir, he.. he has al lot of wounds. The crew have cleaned him earlier this evening, but now… the wounds have opened.. he has lost a lot of blood sir and.. ” Horatio didn’t knew more to say.

Captain Pellew laid a hand on Hornblower’s shoulder and felt his protégé tens “He will be all right Mr Hornblower, mark my words. Mr Kennedy is to brave to let go now.”

“Yes he is sir!” It was said with so much fierce, that Pellew raised his eyebrows, but knew that he couldn’t ask more. He looked around and faced his first lieutenant.

 “Mr Bracegirdle, please assist Mr Hornblower with getting Mr Kennedy back to the ship.”

“It will be a honour sir!” Bracegirdle stepped forward.

“Mr Bowles. Take the weapons of these men.”

“Aye sir” With the help of Fuller, they disarmed the men and throw them in the now empty cell. After they had looked the door, Pellew faced the small group.

“I’m very much in your debt sir. You saved the life of a very valuable officer” he softly spoke to the raging Fuller.

“I should have act much earlier captain” Fuller spoke with regret. “It would have save your men a lot of grieve.” He looked at the wounded Kennedy and sighted audible. “But when I saw that this pig”  he kicked at Massey “wanted to kill him, after all what he already had done to the lad, I knew I had to do something.”

“You’ll be honoured to join my crew sir. The Navy could use brave and honourable men like you.” Pellew nodded to Fuller.

“Thank you sir, I will join your ship.” Fuller smiled slightly. “But first we have to get of here. We have dealt with Massey and Thompson, but we have to get of here, before monsieur Randolphe notice we’re missing.”

“Monsieur Randolphe?” Bowles asked “Who’s that?”

“He’s the commanding officer of this fortress and you don’t want to face him.”  Fuller grimaced.

“Indeed, we don’t want to.” Pellew answered smartly. “One time at the diner table is more than enough.”

“Let us go to our ship and leave this miserable place!” he continued. “Fuller, you lead the way, Mr Langdon, can you hold a musket?”

“Aye sir!” Fuller saluted.

Hornblower raised Archie, he was glad with the help of Mr Bracegirdle, because Archie wasn’t really helping and Horatio wanted to be so gentle as possible.

After some time, Horatio, thought that they had made two hundred metres, he felt that Archie was stirring. He softly spoke to the wounded man, trying to reassure him. “It’s okay Archie, I’m here.”


“Yes Archie.” Horatio smiled, happy that his friend was conscious again.

“What’s happening?” Archie’s voice was calm, but somewhat confused.

“We’re going home Archie” Horatio gave a reassuring pat.

“We are?” Kennedy couldn’t believe it.

“My word on it Archie.” Horatio replied “Hold on just a little longer.”

But there was no reply.


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End of part 11

The Uninvited


It was a sunny day, the view clouds who could been seen, made no effort to block the sun. The men who where working on the decks and in the rigging, looked at her and marvelled her beauty and her warmth. On the quarterdeck there was a young man who was also admiring the view. Horatio sighted, he loved to be back on the Indy. Especially when you would thought, that she would be lost forever. Yesterday evening came back to him. The horror, the pain an the miraculous escape to the ship.

When they had reached the plaza and the gate, they had thought that all was lost. Kennedy had been still unconscious and was slowing them down. No-one had even considered of leaving him behind. But when they saw the French guards commanded by Foure, standing on the wall, ready to shoot them all like dogs, there was little hope. Yet at the moment the shots where heard, it took the men some time, to realise that it weren’t French shots.

It was their crew. The brave crew who had saw them coming and had come to the rescue. It was a intense fight, won by the Indy’s. They had killed Foure and most of the guards and had taken the officers back to their ship.


It was a good word and Horatio excelled the fresh sea air. Pellew’s first command was to sail the ship out of the devilish place. His next order was to get Kennedy to the sick berth. 

‘Archie’, Horatio joy of their new won freedom was damped by the state of his friend. All though Pellew had almost ordered him to get some rest, Horatio had instead remained with his friend for the whole night.

Together with Hepplewhite they cleaned the wounds and had bandage them again. During the cleaning of Archie’s wounds, there had been a alarming moment when Pellew had appeared. Hornblower was deliberately disobeying Pellew’s orders and had waited for the deserved punishment. But the captain had only looked at Kennedy’s wounds, had stared at them and had said nothing to Horatio. Hornblower had noticed how soft the face of his captain was, but then Archie had made a distress sound and his attention had been drawn back to his friend.

Pellew had observed Hornblower for a moment.

He knew very well, that the lad was disobeying his orders, but had not the heart to call him away from his friend’s sick berth. He was moved by the display of friendship. Knowing that he couldn’t do anything for his wounded officer he had left. But his soul was burning.

Horatio had stayed with his friend, was grateful that his captain hadn’t said anything. When the dawn was not far away, Archie had awakened. It was a short moment. He had wanted to know where he was and the sight of Horatio and the comfortable answer that they were back at the Indy, reassured him and he had fell back asleep and hadn’t awakened since.

After Horatio had told that to Hepplewhite, the doctor was pleased, saying that Kennedy probably would recover. The danger was gone, the only thing what would help him recover was rest and to check the wounds every two hours.

It was after this news, Horatio dared to leave the sick berth and now he was standing here on deck. To take some fresh air. He knew that Hepplewhite was right, that Archie would be fine, eventually. Still, Horatio missed his friend, he wanted to talk to him.

“Mr Hornblower” Horatio looked around and saw that Mr Bracegirdle was calling for him. “Yes sir” Horatio stepped towards the kind officer. Bracegirdle was looking at him, with a concerned look. “Captain’s orders sir, you will be expected in his cabin.”

“Yes sir” Horatio saluted and turned away. His stomach ached. ‘the captain’, he must have questions and Horatio didn’t want to tell everything, he had wanted to talk with Archie about it. And know that was not possible, ‘damn’. Horatio took a deep breath and walked to the captain’s cabin, painfully aware what happened the last time he walked here. When he reached the door, he knocked at waited at the brisk “Enter” before opening.

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Pellew saw his protégé enter. “Ah Mr Hornblower, please have a seat sir” he pointed at the chair before his desk. “Thank you sir” Hornblower settled himself down, but a soft moan escaped his lips.

Pellew, sharp as ever noticed it of course and glanced Hornblower a concerned look. “Mr Hornblower, are your wounds treated sir?”


Horatio looked down, in all of his worries for Archie, he hadn’t gave a moment thought for his own comfort. He had forgotten it, but sudden movements, like sitting on a chair caused a great deal of pain. “No sir, I haven’t.” he said plainly, waiting for the outburst to come. Pellew never had much patience with men who made themselves unfit for duty. Strangely, the outburst never came.

Pellew was still observing him, with an almost fatherly expression on his face. “I see,” he murmured. “I take it, that your concern for Mr Kennedy is the reason for this neglect.”

“Yes sir” Hornblower saw no other reason than telling the truth.

“Very well, after our conversation, please see to it, that your wounds deserve the proper treatment Mr Hornblower.”

“Aye sir” Hornblower nodded and gazed at his captain, waiting for more.

Pellew scratched his throat and continued. “This morning I’ve heard from Fuller some interesting things. Most things I had suspected myself, but this man could confirm this.”


“The group of men who had captured us where Englishmen Mr Hornblower.” Hornblower wanted to interrupt, but a look of Pellew was enough “I’m afraid to say that they were more interested in money than in matters of honour, so they formed a group together, to rob as much as they could and sold it to their French allies.”

“Sort of smugglers sir?”

“Yes, smugglers, pirates whatever you want to name them. Their group changed when Massey and Thompson joined their group a year ago. They were criminals, from good breeding never the less,  who were searched for so many heinous crimes, that they needed an escape. So they fled to France, to Bayonne.”

Pellew paused for a moment, saw that Hornblower was listening to the story and continued “In Bayonne, the situation had changed. The commanding officer Randolphe was still interested in smugglers stuff, but also wanted to do something against Britain.”

“He much have feared that the Republicans would otherwise take his fortress away” Hornblower said, at last there came sense to this story.

“Aye, he must have” Pellew smiled, Hornblower was in good form here.

“So he thought of plans to capture English ships.” Pelled added  “The Republicans would be happy and didn’t bother what he would do with the captives. The group of English thieves and murderers were happy, because they would still earn money and didn’t have to be afraid to got arrested and hanged.”

“And they didn’t mind, they were fighting against there countrymen!” Horatio get upset. “No, they didn’t” Pellew confirmed. “They had only death to fear from the English.”

“I see” Horatio nodded, but his eyes were full of fire.

“It’s a sad story, but I promise you Mr Hornblower” Pellew looked at his protégé. “When we reach the Admiralty, I would let them know what had happened. That place of the devil will be destroyed. You can count on that.”

“Yes sir” Hornblower never doubted his captain’s words.

“Well Mr Hornblower” Pellew looked at him and smiled. “Do I get the story of how you and Mr Kennedy escaped and so saved the officers and the crew?”

When he saw the downcast expression of the lad, the smile suddenly disappeared. “Mr Hornblower is everything all right sir?” he asked concerned. He hadn’t expected this reaction and was shocked by the downcast expression of the lad.

“Yes sir, it’s just..” Horatio stopped and continued with the story. “After the flogging, Mr Kennedy and myself were separated. They told me that if I didn’t betray our country they would kill him.” Horatio looked up and faced his captain. Pellew saw the pain blistering in the eyes and swiftly poured a brandy, surely the lad needed it. “Thank you sir” Hornblower took a sip and continued.

“I know what Mr Kennedy would have said, he would never betray his country and so would I sir, so I refused. Knowing that their word holds no truth. After this  argument with Massey, they left, but… but.. one of them remained and he.. he..”
Horatio couldn’t say more, tears were running down his cheeks. “Archie.. Mr Kennedy must have escaped from his cell, because suddenly… he was there.. in the cell…. killing the man… saving me..

Pellew looked with pain at this terrified youth and was very grateful of the interference of Mr Kennedy. He couldn’t imagine what would have happened without the brave man, everything would be lost.

Horatio took some deep breath, the fear had suddenly came back to him.

“It’s all right Mr Hornblower, you’re save now” the gentle voice of Pellew reached him somehow.

“After that.. Mr Kennedy knew were the crew was being held.. we managed to free them and you know the rest of the story sir. Horatio drunk the rest of the brandy and trembling visible he stared at his captain.

Pellew nodded “ Yes I know. How is Mr Kennedy?” changing the subject rapidly.

Hornblower raised his shoulders. “Mr Hepplewhite insists… that he will be fine sir. Probably he will wake up at the end of the day.” Horatio felt silent, there was nothing more to say.

He saw that Pellew had risen from his chair, hands behind his back and was staring at him with fierce concentration.

“Mr Hornblower” Pellew started “It’s my standing order to report to me the moment Mr Kennedy had regained his conscious.”
“Aye sir” Hornblower nodded and was about to leave.

“Wait a moment Mr Hornblower, I have something else to say.”

“Yes sir?” Horatio was confused, but was sitting as straight as possible.

“Listen well sir, I will say this to Mr Kennedy when he’s awake rest assured.” Pellew started. “That you two are the most honourable and courages officers I’ve ever met. You fought against these men, defending your country and each other. And I’ll make sure that the Admiral will know this too!  Your friendship with Mr Kennedy enlighten us all and I’m very privileged to be your captain!”

Hornblower stared at the man in shock, he hadn’t expected this.

“Sir.. I..” he whispered

Pellew stopped him by raising his hand “Mr Hornblower, you are exhausted and it’s my standing order that you are released of your duties the rest of the day. During that time you can let your wounds examine and see how Mr Kennedy is fairing.” Pellew looked at Horatio with sympathy “Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir” Horatio rose, feeling strangely relieved. His worries had disappeared, just like his uncomfortable feelings with the whole situation. He was happy to be home, glad that he served under this captain and thrilled to see Archie awaken in a few hours and tell him about what had happened and that they in all likely would get a recommendation from the Admiral himself.’’

“Of you go Mr Hornblower”  Pellew nodded

“Yes sir” Horatio saluted at left the room, hading straight to the sick berth

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Matthews was staring at the sleeping officer. The lad looked so calm now. The stains of blood have been washed away. You could only see the bruises and the bandages who would hide the awful wounds beneath it. It was getting darker in the sick berth. Some moments ago, the sick berth attendant had lighten some candles to give more light. Matthews could see Kennedy’s face and was happy that thanks to the laudanum and the long rest it didn’t expressed pain.

The old seaman felt his stomach stir. He was hungry after a hard day on the ship, but he didn’t paid much attention to it. It was an honour to relieve Mr Hornblower in his duty of keeping a eye on Mr Kennedy. Mr Hornblower didn’t want to leave his friend, but Matthews had the right arguments. The lad had to eat something and after some mutterings Mr Hornblower had left the room, leaving Matthews behind to guard Mr Kennedy.

Matthews had checked if Mr Hornblower indeed had left. He could see that his officer was walking with some difficulty. Probably from the fresh bandages, he reckoned. Matthews knew that Hornblower was treated this afternoon. It was the reason for his non attendance today on the deck. But Matthews thought the young unconscious man before him was a other reason.

A sudden sound made him flinch

“No, don’t” it was very soft and in a step Matthews was at the bed of the wounded officer.
“Mr Kennedy?” he softly asked, he carefully touched the young man’s shoulder. “Please wake up sir.” He felt the muscles under his touch tense and quickly removed his arm.

A soft moan was heard.

“Please sir, wake up” Matthews heard the worries in his own voice. Mr Kennedy was not waking up, instead he was tossing and muttering. The seaman feared that the wounds would tear again. “Damn” he softly cursed. ‘why did he had send Mr Hornblower away, he would know what to do.’

He touched Kennedy’s shoulder again, this time somewhat firmly. The boy had to wake up. The result was shocking.

“Noooo!” a loud gasp was heard, Kennedy flew his eyes open in alarm, but was not recognizing him.

“Mr Kennedy?”

“No, leave me alone” the voice was thin, but was panic was clearly noticeable.

“It’s me sir, Matthews” the old seaman tried to keep his voice calm, but it was hard, when you looked at the young frightened officer before him. Matthews hated the men who had made this effect and was happy that most of them where dead. He took the lad’s face in his hands and was looking in the panicking eyes until some recognition could been seen.

“Ma.. Matthews?” a stammering voice asked.

“Aye sir, it’s me” Matthews smiled, he was relieved the officer had wakened up.

“Where’s Hora.. I mean Mr Hornblower?” Kennedy was looking around

“He was here most of the day sir. But I told him that I would watch over you, so that he could get something to eat.” Matthews talked softly, saw that the panic was disappearing, but still small traces could been seen.

“Oh” Kennedy laid his head on the pillow and was looking at Matthews with a puzzled expression. “How is he?”

Matthews smiled, typical Kennedy always wanting to know how his friend is fairing.
“He’s fine sir. Doctor has cleaned his wounds and bandage them, just like your own wounds. His bruises.. on his face will heal sir.” He saw a flicker of emotion in Kennedy’s eyes and wanted to ask his officer what had happened with Hornblower. ‘How did he get the bruises?’, but knew that he had no right to ask that question. 

“He was very worried for you sir” Matthews changed the subject rapidly. “Shall I send for him?”

“Yes Matthews, thank you” Kennedy was facing him with a serious expression, Matthews saluted “I very happy that you made it sir” he whispered. He saw that his words had a deep effect on Kennedy and to give the lad some privacy he walked away.

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It was noisy and crowded in the officer’s mess. The men where relieved to be on the ship again and out of that dreadful prison. Horatio settled himself down and immediately a plate with food stood before him. Horatio was hungry, but still it seemed wrong to eat when Archie was still laying unconscious. Perhaps it was better to return, he was about to rise when Bracegirdle grabbed his shoulder.

Horatio flinched and looked around, when he saw that the first lieutenant was watching him with a strange expression he felt himself blush. “I’m sorry sir, I’m… just somewhat stiff” he murmured an apology.

“Please sit down Mr Hornblower” Bracegirdle nodded to the plate with food. “eat something.”

“I’m not hungry sir” Horatio said sternly.

“How is Mr Kennedy?” the unexpected question nerved him

“He’s.. he’s still unconscious sir. Seaman Matthews is with him now, he told me that I should eat something.”

“Smart man!” Bowles said smiling. “It’s no use Mr Hornblower to making yourself unfit for duty sir. Mr Kennedy would not appreciate that.” Bracegirdle said amiably.

Horatio wanted to reply that, yet knew that it was no use, he settles himself down again and started eating.

After he finished some chicken Matthews entered the mess.  Hornblower raised immediately. “What’s it Matthews? What’s wrong?” he exclaimed.

“Mr Hornblower, there’s nothing wrong sir. Mr Kennedy.. he is awake and he wanted to see you” Matthews was smiling.

“You will be excused Mr Hornblower” Bowles smiled “Thank you sir!” Horatio stood up and walked quickly to the door. “Matthews, would you please inform captain Pellew”

“Aye sir” Matthews saluted at walked away

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Horatio walked quickly, he had missed his friend and the fact that he was badly injured made him very worried. Thank god he had awaken. He wanted desperately to talk to Archie, to insure him that everything is well and.. Horatio stopped for a moment, he wanted to thank Archie for saving his life.

He opened the door of the sick berth and peeked inside

“Hello Horatio” Archie was sitting as straight he could, with his back against the wall. He had put the pillow behind him, to give himself more comfort.

“Archie!” Horatio walked to the bed.

“Matthews told me you’re awake and I..”

“You run here, so fast as you could, leaving your diner behind you.” Archie grinned “I can imagine it Horatio.”

“Well I..” Horatio laughed too “It’s good to see you Archie” he said more seriously.

“Yes, I’m glad we’ve made it” the smile had disappeared and a small frown had come instead. “Matthews told me your were treated. How are you feeling Horatio?”

Hornblower blinked and somewhat emotional he looked at the floor. “I’m fine Archie” he said, a little bit to earnest.  Kennedy looked at Horatio, saw the emotional struggle. “It will heal Horatio” he said softly.

“Really?” the doubt and pain was clearly noticeable in Horatio’s voice.

“Aye it will, it needs some time” Archie smiled thinly.

“Archie, you.. you saved me and I.. I..” Horatio couldn’t continue and closed his eyes in pain. He was surprised when he felt a hand on his arm. He flew his eyes open in alarm.

“Archie, you..” Kennedy had saw his friend’s distress and had risen from him bed.

“Hush Horatio, please don’t do this.” Kennedy whispered

“You saved my life in Spain and on a numerous other occasions, perhaps even without you knowing it.” He continued more loudly. “Besides you would have done the same for me, when I was in your shoes.”

Horatio smiled, a different memory was awaken by those words. “Aye, you’re right Archie.” He patted the younger man on the shoulder.

“Mr Kennedy, shouldn’t you be in bed sir!” a stern voice came out the doorway. They both stiffened and straightened as best they could.

“Captain Pellew sir” Kennedy saluted smartly. “I was.. just trying my ability to walk sir!”

“Well” Pellew peered at his officers. “I suggest you try that exercise tomorrow again sir.”

“Yes sir” Kennedy climbed in his bed. It cost him pain and Pellew hadn’t missed it, nor the emotional appearance of his protégé. He had heard the words in the corridor and was shocked by it.

“How are you feeling Mr Kennedy?” he said, his voice uncharacteristic kind.

Kennedy thought for a moment. “I’ll mend sir” Horatio was observing Archie, it was his turn now to look down.

“I’ve heard and I saw with my own eyes that those men have hurt you badly lieutenant.” Pellew said, looking carefully at the wounded man.

“They did sir” the voice was a mere whisper
“And yet you didn’t told them, what they wanted to know?” in Pellew’s voice crept admiration.

“No sir”

“Why not?” Pellew saw that the head came up and when he looked in the blue eyes, he was amazed what he saw. There were still signs of pain and fear, but through it was a soul, a brave soul, who didn’t want to be bullied or suppressed. Pellew knew what the trials were in Kennedy’s live and marvelled the strong spirit who could overcome those horror’s.

“It was my duty to my king, my captain and my friend sir” Kennedy looked straight at his captain.

“Mr Kennedy, listen well sir, I’ve said this to Mr Hornblower and I will say the same to you sir.” Pellew started.

“That you and Mr Hornblower are the most honourable and courages officers I’ve ever met. You fought against these men, defending your country and each other. Whatever these men did to you, you didn’t gave up.  I’ll make sure that the Admiral will know this too!” Pellew smiled and added “Mr Kennedy, I’m very privileged to be your captain!”

Tears came in the eyes of Kennedy and he swiftly blinked them away.

“Thank you sir” he stammered.

“One more thing Mr Kennedy” Pellew had noticed that the young man was exhausted and needed rest. “In the future, when you experience these problems again, you will report such problems directly to me, they will be dealt with in a swift way.”

“Problems sir?” Kennedy asked surprised

“Aye sir, I believe Mr Massey was starting his terror already on the ship, Am I not right?”

Hornblower noticed how pale Archie get and stepped in. “Sir, Mr Kennedy couldn’t say anything, they would..” he stopped

“I know what they were capable of Mr Hornblower, but I do not wish to lead a ship, when my men are in fear. Do I make myself clear Mr Kennedy.”

“If someone is getting under your skin, you will notify me directly.” Pellew glanced at his officer and saw how moved the lad was.

“Aye sir, I will”

“Good” Pellew smiled “It’s the least I can do for such a valuable and brave officer.

Kennedy looked up and nodded “Thank you sir” he said softly. “You do not know how much this means to me.”

“It all right lad” Pellew’s voice was soft. “You take your time to heal.”

“Yes sir” Kennedy answered brightly

“Mr Hornblower”


“I take it, that you have not finished your diner?”

Hornblower blushed. “No sir, but I..” a sideward glance to Archie “I’m not hungry sir.”

Pellew shacked his head. “Very well sir, perhaps you can make sure that Mr Kennedy will eat something.”

“Yes Sir.” Hornblower nodded and together with his captain he walked away.

“I’ll be right back Archie” he said before closing the door.


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The end


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