No Rest for the Wicked: Interlude
by Emily Regent
*INTERLUDE 1 of 3*:
a/n: This is intended to tie up the last few loose ends from 'No Rest for the Wicked', and set the scenario for the next stories. It is done from Pellew's POV because I don't feel the series offers very much about his views on Kennedy (or vice versa), and I'd like to try and redress that.
_PART ONE: A CONVERSATION WITH THE CAPTAIN_
That it was Kennedy who had requested entry to his cabin
was not entirely unwelcome to Pellew. He had one last disappointment
for the Lieutenant, and had put-off sharing it, but knew that
such a situation could not continue indefinitely. Kennedy would
have to be told, however little Pellew liked the duty, and he
had already pictured how it would be taken: an accepting nod and
acknowledgement perhaps some query as to why, and perhaps
a jest if Kennedy could think of one quickly enough. But he would
avoid Pellew's eyes as though to look at him would be to betray
his feelings of rightful anger and frustration.
'Rightful anger' and 'frustration' didn't cover it, Pellew considered with a snort. He would be furious and bitter, and despite having every right to both, he would demonstrate neither; just feel them deeply and continue with his duty despite it.
"Come in, Mr. Kennedy," he invited, determined to pitch this interview at a warmer level than his previous communications with him.
"Thank you, sir," he replied, formally. "Please forgive my intrusion, but I have a request, if I may?"
Pellew made up his mind to grant whatever Kennedy wanted that was within his power to give, to make up for the blow he must deliver. "You aren't interrupting, Mr Kennedy. Please what is it?"
"Well, sir; I would like to remain aboard /Seawitch/ during her refit, if I might. I have been absent from the sea for two years, and feel I would benefit from using this time to refamiliarise myself with a warship. I could be of use-"
Pellew let Kennedy carry on, but didn't pay any attention to the rest of the speech. It was excellently argued, brilliantly delivered and unless he was no judge of men at all, extremely well-rehearsed. His former intentions flew out of the stern window like a musket-ball.
Most captains, so long as his offers operated efficiently and gave him no reason to be concerned, didn't care about the relationships good or bad that existed between them. Pellew gave all the appearance of being similarly disinterested and that was an intentional impression as Pellew didn't feel a captain could afford to be seen as being sentimental.
But Horatio was like a son to him; every bit as much as Admiral Halliwell was a surrogate father. He couldn't claim a similar affection for Kennedy, but he did have a certain fondness for him or not quite fondness, perhaps; he wasn't sure what it was. If he could say he was 'fond' of Hornblower, it was because he admired his protégé in many ways, but he would have to say he was 'fond' of Kennedy out of nothing better than pity for him for many reasons. The rift between the two of them saddened him deeply, moreso because it was not even his place to reconcile them, and he knew both men were the poorer for it.
"Mr Kennedy," he interrupted, when he didn't think he could stand the babble any more. "I have no intention of allowing any such thing."
Kennedy started. "Sir? I-"
"Mr Kennedy I will not assist you any attempt to avoid Mr Hornblower," he declared. "I remember too well your determination to get ashore and to Drury Lane. Neither do I feel that a two year absence from sea has made you forget everything, since I recall a time when a three year absence made precious little difference."
"Truly, sir I am not attempting to avoid Commander Hornblower. Indeed, Drury Lane would be the place to do just that," he said with a smile. "Besides which, we could not avoid each other aboard and to do so now would simply delay the inevitable."
"Then why do you wish to remain aboard?" Pellew enquired.
"As I said, sir-" That Kennedy could repeat the speech almost word-for-word only confirmed that there was some other reason behind the request.
"Yes, yes, yes I've heard your soliloquy, Mr Kennedy," he brushed off, impatiently. There was a moment when Kennedy's blue eyes betrayed hurt, but he covered it quickly. Pellew took a breath. "Sit down, if you please." The Lieutenant did so, awkwardly.
Pellew suppressed a sigh. Kennedy was well-educated, with a keen interest in literature, music, art and a myriad of other refined subjects. As it happened, so was Pellew. Their education had been to about the same level, they both claimed good family backgrounds and although Pellew was much older, all factors dictated that himself and Kennedy should get along well. Yet somehow their conversations always proceeded awkwardly; always there was Kennedy's nervousness around him and his own frustration with his inability to get through to the younger man. Kennedy always left any discussion with him with the air of a man in grateful retreat, apparently in a sorrier state than when he had advanced upon it. And Pellew was always left with the frustrating sense that they had both failed to grasp some connection; that each had thrown lines to the other which the other had failed to catch.
There had been a few more promising moments during Kennedy's recovery in Jamaica. His sense of humour had been an important part of his defences so Pellew had laughed at his remarks (not always falsely, either - Kennedy was really very witty, and could be surprisingly cutting beneath his gentle ways), and allowed him to keep up the apparent 'protection' it provided. Yet there had been moments when Pellew felt some genuine warmth for him, too.
One night; a stiflingly hot night, shortly after Dr. Sebastian had removed the bullet from Kennedy's body, he had woken from a nightmare, still dazed from the drugs, short of breath and in pain. Pellew had bathed his burning forehead with cool water (as he had his children when they were sick), held his hand and spoke reassuringly to calm him. Kennedy had eventually responded to his care, settling back into exhausted slumber. But Pellew suspected that he did not properly recall the event.
He had also been fooled by the Lord Cassillis act. He had believed Kennedy to be growing in confidence and becoming more comfortable with himand so he hadas the Earl of Cassillis: an act no more real than if Kennedy had chosen to be Prospero or Hamlet. Although he could never admit it, it saddened Captain Pellew that Kennedy had only ever been comfortable with him when either barely aware of his surroundings, or pretending to be someone else.
"Mr Kennedy; an accomplished actor you may be, but I hardly think that 'refamiliarising yourself with gun-drill' or 'becoming accustomed to the motion of a ship' are reasons why you would pass up an opportunity for shore leave!"
The Lieutenant did not take up his cue. Hornblower or Bush would have known that they were expected to speak at this point, but Kennedy merely sat uncomfortably by the desk like a frightened twelve-year-old midshipman who could no more address a being so superior as a captain than he could speak to god.
And idea struck him, and he forced his impatient tone to one side and tried to address Kennedy more softly. "Perhaps you fear meeting with someone else ashore?" he asked. "Perhaps someone who has not forgotten Cpt. Sawyer?"
"Oh, no, sir the report was never widespread, and I doubt I'd be recognised anyway," he said, and then foundered. He had probably just realised that he had passed up on an excuse that Pellew would never have questioned or been unsympathetic to.
"Mr Kennedy, I am used to receiving honest reports from my officers whether they are former spies or not " (it had been intended to make the Lieutenant smile, but Kennedy just looked ashamed) "-and you shall not leave my cabin until I am satisfied as to the reason you wish to remain on board. Either that, or you agree to take your liberty."
There was silence. "Come now, Mr. Kennedy," Pellew said gently. Whatever had possessed him to come up with such ridiculous excuses, he couldn't think, but the Lieutenant was obviously distressed enough to try. "Please if you are not trying to avoid Mr. Hornbloweror someone else unconnected with the Navy, even?" Kennedy looked down and shook his head. "Then what can be so bad that you feel a need to retreat to /Seawitch/?"
"Sir, I- please excuse me, sir."
This was unusual resistance. "Have I done nothing to earn your confidence?"
Trapped, Kennedy looked away and spoke so quietly and rapidly that Pellew had to ask him to repeat himself.
"Icannot afford it, sir. I don't have enough money even for the most basic lodgings." Kennedy swallowed and blushed furiously. "After getting a new uniform, having the old ones adjusted, my contribution to the ward roomI haven't five guineas left."
Pellew realised he was staring very hard at Kennedy when the Lieutenant looked away again, and admitted, abashed, "I haven't got two."
Experimentally, Pellew kept up the stare, wondering whether the total amount was going to go down much further, but then Kennedy gave him the precise sum of two pounds, one shilling and five pence. So not quite two guineas, then. But it was not enough for a month ashore.
Although Pellew was reasonably rich, he did not assume wealth on the part of his officers; Bush had four sisters to support and no connections or influence, having been promoted from before the mast. Hornblower's buckles were always pinchbeck, not silver, and now he had a wife and child. He knew that Kennedy had no income except for his wage and prize money, but neither did he have expensive taste. Although he went to a tailor who charged more than the average, he also went to a tailor who used fabrics which wore better than most at sea, and while he liked a shirt that had more character than the most basic of garments, he again showed a sensible economy, and would patch or mend himself with considerable skill an ability he sometimes traded on, if Pellew remembered correctly. He was not a gambler, nor did he keep a mistress or support illegitimate children, he was not a drunkard
It was a mutually awkward moment when Pellew felt compelled to ask how the state of affairs had come to pass, while brutally aware that he had never had to worry about such a matter himself, and Kennedy would not be unreasonable if he resented the enquiry.
Tactfully, rather than betray any bitterness, Kennedy phrased his first misfortune neutrally as "there was no prize money from /Renown/," when what he meant was that he had not received his share. Then he tried to jest his way out of the second. "A dead Lieutenant's pension is not sufficient to keep him, I fear. He must resort to haunting a ship."
So, the savings a midshipman and junior lieutenant could amass was sufficient for a new uniform and ward-room stores. No wonder he was embarrassed and had concocted some alternative excuse. Pellew found his irritation melting into pity. Perhaps this way why he never seemed to have a better relationship with Kennedy he either pitied him, or was irritated by him. However, there was very little he could say that was not an insult. "I'm sorry, Mr Kennedy. I had never considered."
The man looked wretched and Pellew was briefly sorry he had persisted. However, if he didn't know then he couldn't help.
"I am not in debt sir. I have never borrowed money, and I should not wish to start when there may be some other alternative." His tone was a little defiant, but it put him in more respectable company than other Lieutenants Pellew had known, who would borrow very quickly, confident that their wage would cover their debt or they would be dead with no further reason to be concerned.
Pellew had already rejected offering him a loan; just the suggestion would put Kennedy in a more humiliating position.
"You have my permission to stay on board, Mr Kennedy," he said (what else could he say?) "However, you are currently being paid I think you should spend a few days ashore before we leave - come back aboard a few hours before we sail, eh?"
The smile he received was one of grateful understanding. There was no need for his fellow officers to know the reason he had stayed aboard, and spending some time in Portsmouth would make it look as though he had chosen where he spent his time. "I appreciate that, sir," he said, recovering his composure, somewhat.
"Well I have no clerk at the moment - you write a fair hand, as I recall?"
"I have attempted to keep it so, sir," he answered. Good no false modesty.
"Excellent I may even have time for some shore-leave myself." Pellew smiled. "Come back at two bells, and I'll have some reports for copying."
"Aye-aye, sir," Kennedy responded.
Pellew let the man go and retrieved a fresh page. There was one piece of correspondence he intended to deal with personally.
A moment later, he thrust the paper away from him in agitation.
He had forgotten to inform Kennedy of the bad news.
_PART TWO: DINNER WITH THE CAPTAIN_
Pellew had thrown the line, and was glad that Kennedy had
caught it, rather than make some excuse to eat alone in the wardroom.
Of course, the satisfaction was somewhat dimmed by the fact that
there were very few excuses Kennedy could make at all, since he
had no appointments, and little to do in the evening except read
or accomplish whatever work Pellew himself might provide.
In truth, Pellew was rather impressed with the way Kennedy conducted himself. He had been able to witness a variety of command styles during his career and was always interested in the way some men made a complete hash of the issue, whereas others knew just how to handle it, and each in their own way.
Bush, for example, could be quite a fearsome man with his inferiors - his accent, his bearing and his active participation in shipboard life betrayed his origins as having been before the mast. Some men, therefore, viewed him as no better than the other ratings, believing, through jealousy or bitterness, that some cowardice or betrayal had earned him his commission. Men who would never succeed or who had been pressed needed someone to hate, and it probably felt safer when the man making their lives a misery (as they were wont to perceive the matter) originated from no higher position than themselves; who was, socially at least, their equal.
So, Bush was strict and hard, but fair - he didn't punish frivolously, but would do so unflinchingly when he needed to, and he was willing to execute his own duty with no more leniency than he showed to others. He would be in the thick of any fight and as a physically powerful man, he could match most of those aboard.
Hornblower was a natural leader - a brilliant strategist and had a knack for keeping the men under his command alive; a mixture of ability and luck. He inspired loyalty and could judge when to be soft and when to be harsh. There was a dignity about him, and he was willing to make sacrifices of his own. Men could look towards him and know that they were competently led and their lives valued. Although as a midshipman, he had been tall and awkward, he had filled out somewhat, acquiring an air which - if it wasn't quite elegant - was something very close to it.
Bush and Hornblower had both been born to the sea; much like Pellew himself. Pellew had the impression that whatever skill Bush had turned his hand to, he would have proved himself most capable, and Hornblower would have excelled and made a name for himself in whatever profession he chose. However, he also felt that both men would need to devote themselves entirely to their respective trades as they had done to this life in order to achieve their successes.
Kennedy was very different. He was soft spoken, with a high-class accent and conducted himself as both a gentleman and a gentle man; he was effortlessly neat and tidy, and handsome in a soft sort of way, all of which combined to give the impression that he was a high-born fop playing at sailors, who valued the uniform more for the fashionable attention it could get him than the values it stood for. Of course, there was the advantage that he was too often underestimated, and more than once it had been the last thing an enemy had done.
He was stronger than he looked, but didn't have Hornblower's natural presence or Bush's ability to command attention. As a would-be actor, he had learned to project his voice without actually shouting; a skill he put to clever use, although there was a point in the noise and confusion of battle where one had to yell to be heard. But any lack of attention paid to him also meant that he could slip in and out of a room without either leaving a hole by absence, or by being noticed if he was late. Pellew idly wondered whether he, himself, had ever missed him in such a way.
Again, unlike Bush or Hornblower, he had amassed a multitude of skills and talents which were at his disposal. He never seemed to forget something once he had learned it. The other officers had to dedicate themselves entirely to a Naval career, but Kennedy might have excelled in many; he was intelligent (save for some weakness when it came to mathematics), he had a skill for languages and already spoke French, Spanish, Dutch and Danish, and was currently adding Russian and Italian to the list. Pellew didn't know whether he could draw, but he did have some academic knowledge of art. He was well-read and showed understanding of what he read. He could turn his hand to most tasks aboard ship simply by observing those who habitually performed them and had learned the tricks and trappings of espionage almost indecently fast.
The key was that Kennedy could learn, apply, adapt and then combine all the separate pieces of his knowledge. He could do nothing about his distinctly un-Spanish looks, but had he a darker complexion his command of the language and ability as an actor combined with a knowledge of the culture and Spanish temperament, he might have passed for a native. He probably could pass for French with just a little more work.
So far as Pellew could recall, Kennedy's command style was quite unique. Because he was not a man others initially respected, he had to actively demonstrate why he was worthy of that which he expected. This afternoon had seen some rigging going up, and with too few trained men for the task and pressed crew looking on resentfully, Kennedy had striped off jacket and waistcoat and joined in, willing to work alongside the men in untangling rope and releasing twisted canvas, as able as any for such a task. Pellew had watched, discretely, and saw some of the newer men regarding him very oddly, but with some measure of re-assessment. Not some highborn fop playing at sailors, then.
Punishment was also a matter which could tell one a great deal about how an officer commanded. Pellew and Bush would order a flogging when one was deemed necessary. Hornblower hated the thought, and was slower to inflict physical punishment, preferring to withdraw spirit rations, offer increased duties or the most unpleasant tasks before resorting to the gratings or rope's end. Kennedy had never ordered a flogging. How he punished the men when he needed to, Pellew didn't know, but the method must have been an effective one, since it was rare for any man within Kennedy's division to disappoint him twice. He had heard Kennedy cursed, criticised and occasionally despised by the men, but whatever else took place, the third lieutenant seemed to acquire the results he wanted.
Perhaps he would prove more capable on this voyage than previous occasions.
Kennedy dreaded dinner with the Captain from the moment the
invitation was issued. That Pellew was aware of this unexplained
awkwardness between them went some way to making him feel a little
less foolish after their infrequent discussions, but he wasn't
at any point where he wanted the Captain to make any particular
effort on his behalf.
At least there would be no shortage of subjects for discussion; he could happily talk about events in France, and so long as he kept matters small and trivial, or impersonal, then he should be in very little danger, and the evening might not be the disaster he was currently predicting. Kennedy allowed himself a very brief smile. Lord Cassillis had got on very well with Sir Edward; perhaps it was the Earl's company that Pellew desired, and not Lieutenant Kennedy at all?
No - it was only the serious matters over which he made an idiot of himself with the Captain; his diplomacy was too often mistaken for stupidity and his discretion for disinterest. He shied from heartfelt discussion over personal issues because he knew there was little to be impressed by. There were dangerous topics, too: Hornblower, Sawyer, /Renown/, /Justinian/ El Ferrol
There would also be the shadow of Hornblower. He knew full well that Pellew would have invited Hornblower rather than him, had he the choice, but he couldn't feel any particular resentment over that fact. The Navy, like the rest of society, had a hierarchy based upon a system of favouritism, favours and patriarchy, so Kennedy thought little about Pellew's patronage of the Commander.
Dammit, he hoped Pellew didn't want to discuss Horatio!
No; he was over-thinking the situation. It was far more likely that Pellew just wanted some company, for a change, and was being sympathetic towards the state of Kennedy's finances. Dinner was minor enough charity, especially as he could expect a return invitation to the wardroom at some point during the voyage. In fact, with the good relationship he had with his officers, and vice versa, such exchanged visits were likely to be frequent.
Dammit, he hoped he didn't make too big a fool of himself.
Poor, hapless Kennedy.
The honorific seemed to apply more than ever, Pellew reflected, dispersing his previous, more optimistic thoughts. For once, something had gone very well for Kennedy. He had an admiralty patron, at last (even if an eccentric one); he had proven himself dedicated and loyal to those who might otherwise doubt him. Pellew was far happier leaving him to be responsible for anything than he had when Kennedy was a mere midshipman. It would embarrass Kennedy for Pellew to admit it, but he finally had the Captain's respect. There would always be something pitiable and exasperating about the man, but beneath Pellew's gruff manner, he was beginning to hold Kennedy in higher regard.
And now he had to prove that respect and regard by delivering the Bad News. (It had been hanging over him now for what seemed so long that it had acquired something of its own life).
Perhapsperhaps that one piece of correspondence that he had not let Kennedy copy would go some way to comforting the man (so long as it did not look too much like a gesture of pity). He had that a sliding it between sheets of other dull paperwork, and so give Kennedy both the benefit of the surprise and the option of refusal. Then he had re-considered. Kennedy was nowhere near daring enough to refuse, and so if he was going to make the issue a surprise, he may as well go all the whole way.
Kennedy arrived for dinner promptly, properly dressed and just about as nervous as Pellew had expected. What he wouldn't give for Hornblower to be here - and for Kennedy and Hornblower to have made up whatever differences had fallen between them.
His steward laid out the food with all the appearance of disinterest, although Pellew knew he secretly disapproved of the light menu. Pellew enjoyed hearty food as a general rule, but since his return from El Ferrol, Kennedy had little appetite: the captain put it down to his attempt to starve himself while in prison. It was possible that he had never really recovered - some men didn't. Pellew recalled, however, Hornblower looking away all those years ago - eight or nine, was it? - as though not wishing to disagree with his superior openly, but knowing of some alternative cause.
"Thank you," Kennedy told the steward - a polite way of saying 'that's enough' - and the steward looked at him. Pellew gave a single curt nod, and made a mental note to inform him that Kennedy's appetite was small. He made a further note to say it when he had the time and inclination to listen to ten minutes of his steward's expert disapproval.
They ate unhurriedly: Kennedy told him of /Seawitch/'s progress, and so it did not appear as though he were dispensing a duty, he related a couple of anecdotes concerning the eccentric ship's master and the crew. Pellew would never have heard the tales if Kennedy made the report in a formal manner. For just a few minutes, Kennedy seemed to relax and Pellew, letting informality be the rule of the evening, allowed himself to enjoy the stories - Kennedy even told them very well, almost forgetting who it was he was talking to.
But it could not be put off indefinitely.
Pellew cleared his throat. "I'm afraid I have somerather bad news," he announced.
"Sir?" Kennedy asked, looking concerned.
"I'm not quite sure how to tell you" Pellew stalled, and then was startled as Kennedy's cutlery hit the plate.
"No, Mr. Kennedy, nonothing like that," the Captain assured him, quickly. (As if he would wait until dinner to deliver ill tidings that concerned Hornblower!) "It concerns the dock-yards at Crammond."
"Oh!" The look of relief was truly pathetic. "Delayed again, sir?"
"Delayed indefinitely, I'm afraid. The Admiralty has decided against their building."
"I see, sir," Kennedy replied, faintly. Pellew half expected to hear him say 'thank you, sir? Is that all, sir? May I go, now, sir?' But the younger man was silent, and Pellew had no idea what to say to him, and so chose something at random.
"Leith is to be expanded, instead."
Kennedy nodded in mute acceptance. He picked up the fork again, and pushed food around the plate aimlessly. He ate perhaps two more mouthfuls, washing both down with the wine, as though that were too much. Once, he looked as though he might speak, but then changed his mind.
After the longest five minutes of his life, Pellew said. "I'm sorry, Mr Kennedy - I know that's a blow. I was furious when I heard the news."
It was a probe - Pellew hadn't much stake in the now to be non-existent Crammond Dock beyond the security of the plans, which had been his responsibility. However, he hoped such an observation might accurately describe how Kennedy felt at that moment; and perhaps give him some liberty to express as much, rather than his quiet, stoic acceptance.
"C'est la vie," Kennedy responded, with the ghost of a smile.
Kennedy smiled more solidly, and said more slowly; "C'est la vie. That's life. It's something Tevellian used to say. I thinkI think he'll be very amused by this turn of events. And Anthony."
"Well, I'm not amused!" Pellew snapped.
Kennedy somehow managed to shrink away from his ire without actually moving. A kind of mental withdrawal that didn't require physical effort and which was one of the things about Kennedy that Pellew found so irksome. In fact, Pellew would have felt better if Kennedy had been entertained by the circumstances. In fact, had a man not sacrificed career, reputation, good name and life itself as Pellew's proxy, he might have seen the funny side himself. Kennedy abandoned his dinner entirely.
"Mr. Kennedy, I am truly sorry for this; none of my influence could change their minds. And after all I put you through, I -"
"Oh, sir, you can't think I /blame/ you in any way," Kennedy burst out, suddenly. Pellew had a sudden desire to bang his head against the bulkhead (whether his own or Kennedy's was the subject of further deliberation). "I understand, sir - it was just unlucky; no more than that."
Well; it was not the reaction he had been hoping for, but it was better than sitting in silence watching the Lieutenant make interesting sculptures with his food.
He took a deep breath, Pellew didn't disturb the mustering of his courage. "Sir; I know that you will have done everything within your power to ensure my effort did not go to waste. I know that you have always exerted yourself on behalf of those under your command."
It was the closest Kennedy had ever come to demonstrating his regard for his captain. Pellew felt gratified that it seemed so high; but it was typical of Kennedy to offer such an understanding. From what Pellew could gather, he was even being understanding about Hornblower's animosity towards him. But despite that reassurance, although he didn't feel as guilty, Kennedy must still feel betrayed.
"Mr. Kennedy...you have every right to be angry; I was furious, and your stake in this was far greater than mine."
"I'm not angry," he said, quietly. He looked up. "What would it achieve?" he tried to be philosophical.
"I would prefer it to this despair," Pellew said, with the general exasperation he felt around Kennedy.
He looked a little embarrassed. "I think, sir, if I became angry, then I would never stop." He managed to give a short smile, and sipped his wine. "And the experience has not been without its rewards. Already I have used what I learned, and my skills - new and old - will be useful aboard ship..." This time the smile was more robust. "By your order, only, Captain, of course," he said, sweetly, and damned near convincingly.
"I'm sure," Pellew replied. But he was remembering a seriously injured young man to whom several others owed their lives, lying helpless in the house in Jamaica, all because of his orders. And he was determined not to be angry?
Then he considered - Kennedy had sacrificed his personal honour merely in becoming Pellew's agent; he had sacrificed his good name during the trial, and his very life while aboard /Renown/, and now, it seemed, his closest friend. No. Despair was the more appropriate emotion, here; if he could just do something to heal the rift between the two officers, but he couldn't very well order Hornblower to become friends with Kennedy again. He would put the full story before his first officer at some point, in hopes that Horatio might at least understand Kennedy's position.
"The situation remains that you did not deserve to be put through all this for no purpose, in the end. And I truly regret my part in it."
"I was honoured by your trust in me, sir," Kennedy replied, so artlessly that it could only be a genuine sentiment. Pellew was oddly touched by the man's regard, especially since they had never been very comfortable in each other's company. "These things happen..." he said, crafting a neat, even spiral in the gravy. "If I may presume - not all has been a waste, sir. Admiral Halliwell appears to have taken some interest in me, if I may assume so much."
"Indeed he has, sir - I'm sure I don't need to tell you how grateful you should be." Pellew smiled, knowing that the Lieutenant was always properly appreciative, even when that gratitude was undeserved.
"And...And as I said; I have learned so much." He smiled, and it was a bright, optimistic gesture. "I am disappointed to hear of the dock, but I think I could have gained less from the experience as well."
Pellew considered, and nodded slowly.
"Besides," Kennedy continued, speaking for the sake of speaking, "Crammond is a beautiful bay there will be those pleased to see it unspoiled"
Pellew nodded without really listening. He could do no more.
_PART THREE: FIRST MEETING_
Pellew watched Kennedy being rowed ashore in one of the ship's
feeling unusually pleased with himself. Kennedy had actually made a
very useful clerk, and Pellew considered that should he ever survive
long enough to make Flag-rank that he could do much worse than select
Kennedy as his Flag Lieutenant. He quietly promised the younger man
the appointment as he watched the boat, especially if they could get
over this mutual awkwardness that seemed to plague them. But he would
make the proposal, anyway. Pellew had often wondered how he would deal
with such a relationship as a flag officer, and what sort of man he
should end up with if he ever acquired an office in the admiralty. He
couldn't bear the thought of separating Hornblower from the sea; the
man was too good at command, and Bush would never bear being separated
from Hornblower. When Hornblower got his own ship again, Bush would
inevitably take his place as First Lieutenant, and when Hornblower
himself was an Admiral, Bush would be his flag captain andKennedy
would probably be Hornblower's Flag Lieutenant, too. He would always
be in the shadow of both, and whereas once Pellew couldn't imagine his
former clerk going his own way without Hornblower, the new distance
between them had made him reassess the situation.
It was not just Kennedy's efficiency, his fine, neat penmanship and
his ability to fade into the background that would make him a good Flag
Lieutenant; his connections to the other Service would be invaluable to
any Admiral. Pellew had no intention of succeeding Halliwell or having
any association with the Service beyond Kennedy's own involvement, but
that link would be useful.
He smiled to himself again as Kennedy disembarked with a boyish
nimbleness, and turned to thank the boat crew. He had seemed pleased
to be able to afford at least a couple of days shore-leave before
/Seawitch/ weighed anchor, and had made no objections when Pellew had
asked him to take an appointment for him.
"The gentleman you are to meet will know what business to conduct:
please pass him my warmest regards, too," Pellew had instructed. "You
will have no difficulty beyond that, I'm sure: he's a most obliging and
agreeable man - and I should think you'll get on famously."
Whatever confusion Kennedy had felt, he had hidden it well. Pellew's
trusted steward had interrupted with an urgent and private message
right on cue, when Kennedy had asked for this mysterious gentleman's
name and Pellew had managed to avoid any such enquiries since.
Perhaps he was being just a little bit childish, but Kennedy had
impressed him, and that he should lose Hornblower's regard, and the
disappointment over the dock, Kennedy deserved a pleasant surprise, for
a change. Of course, it could still go horribly wrong, although Pellew
After all, Kennedy and the real Earl of Cassillis could despise one
He wished he could be there to see the look on Kennedy's face.
Although he could never say as much, Kennedy was very flattered
Pellew should entrust his personal business to him. Somehow he hadn't
been able to discover the gentleman's name, but Pellew had obviously
thought very highly of him and Kennedy was confident that he could
either discover his identity, or conduct the affair without the
knowledge. He smiled to himself again. Pellew had been very
understanding over the difficulty regarding his financial situation,
and had made no further comment on the matter. He had also tried to be
kind over the 'Crammond Dock Disaster', as he had come to think about
So kind, in fact, that Kennedy hadn't felt he could express his true
anger and bitterness over the situation, and had never wished more for
Bush's stalwart presence. He had been able to get along with
Bracegirdle aboard /Indefatigable/, too, and even wished for him. He
would usually wish for Hornblower to be there, but was trying to get
out of that habit, since it seemed unlikely to happen. Wellperhaps
being forced together aboard /Seawitch/ would bring him around and he
would realise that Kennedy wasn't the villain the Commander had cast
Kennedy hesitated at the door of the address Captain Pellew had
provided him with. He hadn't known it was going to be a private
gentleman's club; he had assumed it would be a place of business.
Dammit: he would just have to hope that Pellew's name and his own, new,
smart uniform were enough to gain him admission, and if not - resort to
some less honest means of getting in.
Hmph! He was becoming too much like Anthony when he stood here and
wondered how he had managed his life without the new skills he learned
/Come to think of it, I *didn't* actually get that far, did I?/
He smiled winningly at the footman who answered the door, pulling his
hat off awkwardly. "I do apologise for my intrusion, but I am charged
to attend on behalf of Captain Pellew of the /Seawitch/; as per his
orders." There - start with an apology and end by emphasising the
vitality of his mission here.
"Lieutenant Kennedy, sir?" the man asked.
"Ohyes, that's right," Kennedy replied, taken aback. "Am I
"You are indeed, sir." The door was opened for him and he was able
"Thank you," he said, absently.
Another servant promptly appeared to take his hat and cloak.
"Please follow me, sir," said the footman with propriety. It seemed
he really was expected and was relieved at the ease with which he
seemed able to carry out Pellew's orders so far. Well - he had
fulfilled all the ones he knew about, all that was left was to make a
good impression upon whomsoever he was to meet, and provided it was not
some erstwhile relation of Cpt. Sawyer's he was fairly certain he could
manage the feat. There didn't seem much that could go wrong, for once,
and Kennedy found he was able to fix a smile quite genuinely to his
From what he understood, it was rather unusual for the footman to
simply indicate the gentleman he was supposed to meet and leave him to
introduce himself, and the first stirrings of suspicion were awakened.
The figure before him was shielded by a broadsheet newspaper -
absolutely adequate to conceal a pistolperhaps to think like a spy was
no bad thing at all. He knew so little of Pellew's business that for
someone to have intercepted a message and use this appointment to
assassinate either the captain, or his agent, would not be impossible.
In fact, he was beginning to regard the whole aura of mystery
surrounding this situation as suspicious; from the captain's behaviour,
to the footman's casual acceptance of his appearance.
Some sort of test? Were these Halliwell's orders? To spirit Kennedy
away on some new mission, perhaps, or assess his suitability as a more
permanent agent of the Service? Well - assassination or recruitment,
he would be ready, and he brushed his fingers over his jacket as though
straightening the fabric. Yes - he could get the left-hand knife very,
He approached the man behind the broadsheet, and did not obey the
impulse to clear his throat to attract his attention, but chose the
direct route, and offered his right hand boldly, before speaking, ready
to pull either hand or pistol towards him and the owner into the knife
should he catch the glimmer of a weapon. He hoped it would not prove
"Please excuse my intrusion, sir - I am Lieutenant Kenn-"
The man had thrust the paper aside and sprung to his feet; or tried
to - he was apparently hampered by some physical weakness, but besides
being taller, somewhat darker-haired and older by perhaps half a
decade, Kennedy could have been looking at himself. He couldn't react
when his pro-offered hand was clasped, not for a handshake, but warmly
between the other gentleman's own. They must have stood in that manner
for too long, as the other man was the first to look away and laugh
softly; but he didn't let go, instead leading the stunned Kennedy to
the chair beside his own.
"My god; Archer!" he proclaimed, with a soft, Scottish accent
identical to the one Kennedy had imitated for so long.
"L-lord Cassillis?" /Who else could it be, idiot?/ he chided
"No, no," the Earl said, softly. "No titles here - I don't want us
to be 'my lord' and 'lieutenant'. It has been so very long; far too
long" he smiled.
It had indeed been a long time, Kennedy considered. His parent's
memorial (since there were no bodies for which to have a funeral), and
he had been a fifteen year old orphan with an uncertain future,
glancing worriedly at an austere, troubled man who looked so like
himself, knowing he was subject to whatever whim the young Earl of
Cassillis may have. His whim had been the Navy - a place where a man
might make a success of himself, despite few connections and no money,
if he applied himself, worked hard and showed proper courage and
devotion to duty. A place where opportunities might come to him and at
worst, he was guaranteed a regular income and, if he was sensible,
enough to live on thereafter.
Kennedy had always considered himself fortunate, in that respect. It
could have been a great deal worse; Cassillis might have thrown him
into the army, not bothering to spend much money on a commission, and
into a regiment where he was likely to die very quickly. He would not
be the first orphaned boy to be put to work as a servant in some cold,
big house, and forgotten by his relations, and despised by the other
servants because he was related to the master of the household. Even
sent to live far away on a farm, where his existence would be barely
above that of a slave; that was not unknown, either. Or Cassillis
could have refused to acknowledge his cousin on the grounds of the feud
that had existed between their parents, and done nothing to help him at
He had found Kennedy a place aboard /Justinian/ with Cpt. Keene, and
purchased his uniform and any equipment that he might need (not meanly,
either, although he had been aware even then that Cassillis could not
afford to do the task lavishly). He couldn't have known what kind of
hell existed in the midshipman's berth aboard that cursed ship, and
Kennedy had never blamed his cousin for any subsequent misery he had
suffered. None of it could have been foreseen.
But the last time they had laid eyes on each other had been that day
of the memorial, and in a distracted way, Cassillis had informed him of
what his future was to be, his mind clearly on other matters. Kennedy
had listened in the same preoccupied way, /his/ mind on his own lost
dreams of the stage and perhaps some scholarly acclaim for his many
grand treatises on the proper expression of Shakespeare, Chauser and
others. One had been half-written already, and guaranteed, of course,
to get him into Oxford on a scholarship - he had intended to finish it
aboard /Justinian/ and get back to shore as soon as his place in the
university was confirmed. He would sell the uniform and gear to some
aspiring midshipman in order to have a little money during his first
term, before he met some great benefactor who would view his talents
worthy of investment.
"Have I got the wrong man, here?" Cassillis asked, with a smile.
"No," Kennedy answered quickly. He found himself too surprised and
overwhelmed by this meeting to bring forth his usual eloquence. Ha -
the only investment his talent would procure him right now were a few
over-ripe vegetables hurled at his head. "I'm sorry - I meanI'm-" he
had no idea what he should say, and laughed at his own clumsiness.
Thankfully, Cassillis was laughing, too.
"Brandy for your guest, sir?" It was the footman, although he was
talking to the Earl.
"Nono - on no account! My guest is a fellow Scot, and will be
treated as such!" he tapped an empty glass, to request a re-fill for
himself. "Even if you can't stand the stuff, I insist on Scotch for at
least one toast," he said to Kennedy, before thanking the footman. He
gave Kennedy the new glass, and picked up his own.
"Now," he declared. "Here's to a successful Lieutenant, under the
patronage of Admiral Halliwell, and who is safely away from France, and
the bloody fool of his cousin, who should have taken more interest over
a decade ago." He pushed their glasses together with no small force,
and Kennedy grinned, realising that his cousin and himself had the same
sense of humour, and he could probably take liberties here that were
denied him aboard ship.
He drank to the sentiment, the long-absent burn of the whiskey a glad
reminder of his heritage, then, feeling a little more recovered, he
offered his own piece. "Here's to family - and friends - reunited and
it never being too late."
Cassillis' smile widened, and Kennedy realised that he had been
nervous about this meeting - his brisk warmth and hurried humour his
own way of hiding it. That Kennedy had shown willing to forget any
familial feud and accepted the offer of a closer acquaintance had
apparently allayed many of his fears.
"I was glad to get your letter," Cassillis told him. "Truly, there
was no need to apologise for using my name; I'm glad to have some
"It was terribly high-handed of me," Kennedy replied. "And even
worse, I didn't think of that until it was too late to go back. I was
too busy congratulating myself on my own genius," he ended,
"It /was/ genius; the situation fit so well! How did I enjoy France,
by the way? How on earth did I stomach the food? Did I meet many
"Well, there was a Spanish senora"
Within three hours, the footman had been forced to open another
of Scotch for the eccentric but polite Scottish aristocrat, and the
excitable, giggling lieutenant. He was seriously concerned about their
ability to move themselves to a dining-table when supper was to be
served, and even more worried about whether they would be able to eat
anything without there being unpleasant consequences for the carpet.
The Earl was a frail man, who moved as though he were elderly, though
he was less than forty years, and although he leaned on his cousin's
arm, the Lieutenant bore it without any apparent notice, and they
managed to the dining hall in as direct a route as doors and corridors
allowed, betraying nothing of how much they had drunk between them.
Scots! They put any man to shame with the quantity of alcohol they
consumed and the few effects they seemed to suffer.
Pellew watched his last lieutenant coming aboard from his
He had deliberately ensured that Hornblower and Kennedy would not have
the initial awkwardness of sharing a boat, and that most of the crew
would be aboard to welcome him.
Matters had been necessarily rushed after /Hotspur/ sank in dock;
having Kennedy re-arrested, Hornblower's sudden argument with his
former friend and Mr. Bush's worry for them both. He felt rather sorry
for the fourth Lieutenant, Potter who had been thrust into the middle
of whatever wardroom drama was going to ensue. But he had a reliable
report that Potter was a solitary man, preferring to keep a
professional distance with his shipmates and an almost obsessive
avoidance of anything that might be termed a 'social' obligation.
Some of the crew that had made up /Hotspur's/ complement were also
former /Indefatigables/, including his bosun, Matthews, and Styles, the
Bosun's mate. They had been grateful for the transfer to /Seawitch/,
along with the rest of the surviving crew from that ship. His new
midshipman, an exuberant Irishman named Orrock, had also been relieved
not to be put ashore and his manner might almost have been impertinent
when speaking to Pellew, had it not been gratitude that Orrock was
Captain Pellew liked to run a well-disciplined ship, but was also
aware of the importance of morale. Usually he would not like to begin
any voyage with anything less than efficient and smart conduct on the
part of the officers and hands alike so they might start with a
complete understanding of what their Captain expected of them. But
this was different, he supposed and smiled to see the look of stunned
gratification on the Lieutenant's face as Mr. Kennedy was cheered
He had left the crew lists for Mr Hornblower and Mr Potter to sort
out between them, hoping that Kennedy would not have any chance to feel
nervous that so many people who knew of Sawyer's fate would be serving
aboard /Seawitch/. A discrete interview with Bush and Matthews had
assured Pellew that the rumours were that Kennedy, dying, had made the
confession only to spare Hornblower the gallows. Nobody here who knew
much of the incident really held Kennedy responsible. In fact, most
were of the opinion that Kennedy was too damn soft to have pushed
Sawyer down the hatch, anyway.
Good lord, Styles wasn't actually going to /embrace/ him, was he?
Ah, no - there was Matthews pulling him out of the way...
and embracing the Lieutenant himself.
Good lord, how was he supposed to restore discipline now?
Bush suddenly laughed as Kennedy and Wellard came face to face and
regarded each other with mutual shock, then both began to speak at
once. They were clearly delighted to see each other, and he wondered
whether Styles whispered comment to Matthews was a wager over which of
them would cry first.
They were spared that embarrassment, at least, as Orrock came
forward and pumped Kennedy's hand unmercifully, saying "Welcome back,
sir, welcome back!"
"Thank you, Mr- uh"
"I have no idea who you are, sir, but welcome back indeed!"
He was going to have to make sure somebody kept an eye on Orrock, and
decided that they were going to have to get underway if they were to
catch the tide.
"Perhaps we should rescue Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Bush. Muster all hands,
if you please," Pellew requested.
"All Hands!" Bush growled in his powerful command voice. He was
instantly obeyed, and even those who had no idea why Kennedy's
embarkation should cause such celebration made a discrete path for him
to the quarter-deck. He took his place between Bush and Potter, and
tried to cover a brief look of pain as Hornblower merely nodded coldly
in acknowledgement of his presence.
"I didn't know you knew Mr. Orrock, Archie," Bush said, quietly.
"Mr. Bush - he's unforgettable," Kennedy replied.
"When did you meet?"
There was a brief pause and Kennedy's smile returned. "Just now, Mr.
Bush. As you saw."
"I wonder whether it's too late to transfer."
Before their discussion could go on any further, Pellew stepped to
the rail and raised his voice. "My name is Captain Sir Edward Pellew!
And I am here to tell you that your days of idling are over"