The Coffee Crisis
SCENE - Aboard the "Hotspur" in some unidentified
location off the
Coast of France, 1803
*The Steward James Doughty enters into the claustrophobic cabin
Captain Horatio Hornblower, bearing the pewter breakfast service he
bought for his commanding officer. Horatio slouches behind his cluttered desk,
surrounded by unfinished paperwork. His eyes are bloodshot and he his
hands are stained with ink, as he prepares to address letters to his wife, Maria.*
DOUGHTY - *Chipper* Good morning, sir. *Sets breakfast tray
table* Today I have prepared you the most delightful breakfast. It
includes two sausages and
two eggs, the freshest to be had from the chickens. *Sighs*
I do not
know how Styles is able to get them to lay, but he truly does the
most splendid job. These eggs are quite unlike those Misses Mason use to send--
HORATIO - *Annoyed* It sounds pleasant, Doughty, *Leans forward
inspect breakfast* but is the coffee ready?
DOUGHTY - *Pauses* Sir, I regret to inform you that you drank
last of the reserves yesterday morning and--
HORATIO - *Coughs* Damn it! *Pounds fists upon table, scattering
paperwork to the floor* I demand coffee and I demand it now!
DOUGHTY - *Nervously while wringing his hands* Yes, sir, but
have to prepare you the coffee substitute.
HORATIO - *Arises forcefully* I said I demand coffee now!
DOUGHTY - But sir, there is none in supply aboard this vessel.
Perhaps some rum would suffice-
HORATIO - *Stomps feet, shaking his oaken desk* No! No! No!
DOUGHTY - Sir, I-
HORATIO - *Pulls Doughty by his collar across the desk* If
get my morning coffee, I become an insensitive bastard.
DOUGHTY - *Smiles uneasily* Yes, sir.
HORATIO - *Narrows his eyes* Is that sarcasm in your voice?
hold from Doughty, pushing him toward the cabin door* If it is, I'll
flog you myself.
*Bellows* Pass the word for Mister Matthews!
*Outside the cabin, the marine guard sprints down the narrow
toward the deck, desperately searching for Boatswain Matthews. His
throughout the ship, his heavy boots clomping like horseshoes
cobblestone streets. One minute later, the gentle gait of Matthews
can he heard plodding down the corridor*
DOUGHTY - *Anxiously* Sir, with all due respect-
HORATIO - *Roars* Shut up, you p***y!
MATTHEWS - *Salutes* Captain Hornblower, sir!
HORATIO - *Smiles* Matthews, I need coffee.
MATTHEWS - *Clears throat* I'm afraid there are none in the
sir. We'll have to wait until the next supply ship in three weeks.
HORATIO - *Frowns with narrowed eyes* Are you sure?
MATTHEWS - *Nods* Yes, sir.
HORATIO - I don't believe you. *Screams* Pass the word for
Bush! *Paces throughout cabin while the marine guard scampers in
search of First Lieutenant
William Bush* He never tells a lie. He's too honest. He knows
going on. *Laughs maniacally* And if you're lying, he'll let you know
the back of his hand.
MATTHEWS - *Confused* Sir?
HORATIO - *Ceases to pace* Don't play ignorant with me, Matthews.
DOUGHTY - *Whispers to Matthews* Pardon my language, I think
Captain has gone nuts. *Matthews nods in agreement*
HORATIO - *Wide-eyes* Nuts! Where? I like a shot of hazelnut
*Enter William with stealth*
WILLIAM - *Soothingly* You summoned me, sir?
HORATIO - *Clears throat* Yes, Mister Bush. Now you can tell
*Grins* William, is there any coffee aboard this vessel?
WILLIAM - *Pauses* There are no authentic coffee beans, sir.
But I am
certain the substitute can be brewed quite handsomely by your steward.
DOUGHTY - *Beams* Thank you, sir.
HORATIO - *Screeches* Did I say this is time to chit chat?
fist upon his desk, shaking the breakfast service* This isn't social
hour. I need coffee, damn you all!
WILLIAM - *Growls* Horatio, I think you are overreacting.
HORATIO - Did I ask for your opinion? *Sighs* I'm sorry, William.
really am, but is there any Coffea arabica or canephora?
WILLIAM - *Raises eyebrows* Sir?
HORATIO - Oh, never mind. *Paces throughout cabin* This is
Utterly, perpetually hopeless.
*The cabin door bursts open bombastically. Enter Midshipman
with flushed complexion*
ORROCK - *Pants* Sir, we've spotted a battle off the starboard!
HORATIO - *Smirks* Well, a battle. Everyone, on deck!
WILLIAM - *Bellows* Beat to quarters!
*Exit Horatio, William, Matthews, and Doughty. They sprint
stealthfully toward the quarterdeck, with Horatio hanging his tongue
out as if he were panting. Master
Prowse stands watch, grimacing as he observes the battle through
HORATIO - *Happily* Mister Prowse, report!
PROWSE - *Removes glass from his eye* Sir, it's two cargo ships.
One's an Englishman, the other those damn Spanish.
HORATIO - *Beams* Spanish you say?
PROWSE - *Nods* Aye, sir.
HORATIO - Well, well. *Holds out his hands with upturned palms* Glass!
*Orrock surrenders his glass to Horatio*
ORROCK - *Excited* Can you identify them, sir?
HORATIO - *Rises glass to his squinting eye* Oh my! *Squeals*
goodness! *Lowers glass from his widened eyes* This is the best news
I've had all morning!
ORROCK - Sir?
HORATIO - *Passes glass back to Orrock* Mister Bush, it's time
prepare a boarding party or two. *Rubs hands together fervently*
We're going to take them both.
WILLIAM - *Aghast* Sir, one of them is English!
HORATIO - *Shakes head defiantly* I don't care. I've never
prizes and now I'll have the best in the whole damned Navy! *Bellows*
Don't you people know those are the first coffee ships sighted in these waters since
1803! It's a damnable miracle!
ORROCK - *Nervously* What ships are they, sir?
HORATIO - *Grins as points toward battle scene* Mister Orrock,
jewels are the Starbuck and Juan Valdez. The best coffee in all
creation is to be found
there! And rumor has it, the steward on the Starbuck is the
brewer of coffee. Hello to lattes, mochas, caramochas, cappuccinos,
rappuccinos, frappuccinos, cappuccinos, and alpaccinos!
DOUGHTY - *Aghast with sweat drops upon his forehead* Sir,
offense! I'm the best steward in the Fleet!
HORATIO - *Sticks out his tongue at Doughty* But you're not
So there! I want not just black coffee, but espresso! Yeah, and
frothy milk on top with a shot
of hazelnut! Now everyone, prepare to attack!
WILLIAM - *Soothingly* But Horatio, to attack an English vessel-
HORATIO - *Screams* I need that steward! I need my own barista!
demand coffee, and I demand it with style!
DOUGHTY - *Grumbles as he crosses his arms* Perhaps I shall
HORATIO - *Distracted* What? Whatever. *Stomps forcefully upon
quarterdeck* No, I demand coffee! I need some Folgers in my pewter
Men, fire at the mast of the Juan Valdez. We want that ship
no coffee for anyone--ever again! *Foams at the mouth as he rubs his