An American Encounter
By Skihee :

Ch. 24 Love and War

Horatio returned below decks to his cabin and his wife. He had hoped to spend some time thinking about their situation above decks but found the thought of her and a possible child drawing him back. She was sleeping. Quietly slipping into his nightshirt he eased himself into bed with her, pulling her to rest in the crook of his arm, using his chest as a pillow. He felt the warmth of her body, smelled the scent of her hair, listened to her quiet breathing. Leaning towards and rubbing his cheek on her forehead, he closed his eyes for sleep but his mind had other intentions.

He thought about the latest mood swing he had witnessed before the game with his captain. He had come back to change his shoes and trousers, being thoroughly soaked from his watch. He considered what she said and tried to understand the workings of her mind. It seemed as though her thoughts careened from one subject to another, bouncing like a carriage on a road littered with potholes, the carriage thrown from one side of the avenue to the other, and back again. How had she gone from discussing the characters in the book she was reading to Archie's description of a mooring hitch? And then become tearful when she said the knot would disappear with a tug on the end! In all his readings of seamanship and knots he had never found himself moved to tears, unless from boredom.

His brow scrunched as he thought about the qualities of a mooring hitch. The more he tried to equate it to the characters in her novel the more confounded he became. He had chuckled over her attempt to explain it to him and that had put her in such a sad state he did not know what to do. And, that is how he had to leave her to be on time to the whist game. Crying over a knot? Is that what she was crying over? He still wasn't sure. It was a wonder he could think at all to play whist.

He sighed. His father came to mind. Would he know about these rapid swings of mood? These odd mental connections? He wished he could talk to his father. He began a list of women he recalled him attending. Most child delivery had been done by midwives. His father was only called in dire emergencies. He knew his father had performed a Cesarean delivery. That frightened him. He opened his eyes in the darkness with worry, kissing the brow before him. Again, he tried to recall the women his father had doctored. One that came to mind was Mrs. Feeney. He grinned. She had become violent during her labor, throwing things, cursing her husband, cursing the child. He had heard her with his own ears as he held his father's horse carriage. Would Pamela do that? God, he hoped not!

Mrs. Feeney must have been in a lot of pain for she was normally a retiring woman noted for her kindnesses. In fact, he had not believed it was she that had been doing all the yelling. Then, her husband emerged with a cut on his brow from the dish she had pitched at him, saying what a state his wife was in! If he were there during Pamela's delivery he would have to make sure there was nothing loose for throwing. In all likelihood though, he would probably be no where near when the child came. Hopefully, hers would be an easy labor, attended by the standard midwife.

She was young, in good physical condition. He supposed one good thing about her climbing the shrouds was it told him she was physically capable. She did have some good muscles on her come to think of it. That made him feel better.

Perhaps he had been going about this analysis all wrong. He had tried to think of the women, but maybe the men were the key. Dr. Sebastian had said it was men who described things similar to what Bracegirdle said about his sister. Men. Another list pulled up inside his mind. What men had come to his father about their wives? Bennett! Not one that came to his father but one he knew! Mr. Bennett!

When he had been very young, he had gone to visit the Bennett farm. He had a young cow that had just delivered a calf. His words came back from the recesses of his memory.

"There, there, Bessie. The first one's done. Ye'll settle after this and so will Margie." He rubbed the golden cow's sides watching the new calf rise on spindly legs in search of its first meal.

"Margie, Mr. Bennett? Who's Margie?" he had asked the farmer.

"Why Margie is Mrs. Bennett, Master Hornblower."

"What's she got to do with a cow?"

Mr. Bennett chuckled. "Well," he looked at me with pinched eyes. "How old are you, boy?"

"I'm eight, sir."

"Hmm. Well, I reckon you're old enough. Mrs. Bennett is gonna have a babe. Like Bessie here, she's been havin' a bit of a rough time."

Margaret Bennett was Tom Bennett's second wife. She was young and expecting her first child. He had three other children by his first wife who had died of pneumonia winter previous. Margie was his second time around with a child bearing woman so he must have been speaking from experience.

Hornblower pushed through the fog of his memory to that golden August afternoon in Bennett's barn. He could see the middle aged farmer in his dark breeches pocked with straw from the stable. His hair graying at the temples, shirt sleeves rolled to his elbows, a sturdy man of calm and common sense. Hornblower smiled remembering how much he liked Mr. Bennett. He was always willing to take time for his inquisitive nature.

"It's like this," Bennett said, "Sometimes when a woman comes to bear a child her mind gets all confused like. It's not just her anymore. She's got tother one to consider, and her body knows it, but her mind don't. The body and the mind kind of get in a tussle over the new boarder and it takes 'em a while to accept it. After a while though, they ease into the friendship, and everything is all right. It's just that gettin' to know ya process they seems ta go through. Understand?"

Horatio pondered his words diligently, then said, "No, sir."

The man sighed looking closely at Horatio. He scratched his chin. "Take Bessie here. This calf is her first ever. When she come to be with it, she went all off her feed. She went to lowin', hangin' her head, had me worried, till I realized old Henry'd had his way with her." He chuckled. "Anyhow, the first time around for a cow is usually the most difficult time. The cow's body kinda takes notes on what's happenin' even though the cow herself don't know. Are ye followin' me, boy?"

Horatio thought again, knitted his brow, looked at Mr. Bennett, studied the cow, watched the calf at its mother's udder, and said, "No, sir."

"I reckon maybe eight ain't old enough after all," he said looking down at him. "Ye need to get some female experience first. Then, you'll understand." He patted him on the shoulder. "Just remember this, when a woman don't rightly seem herself, just give her some time and some space, be patient, it'll all work out." He motioned with his hand as if smoothing a cat's ruffled fur. "Gettin' yourself worked up over female furies will just confound the heck out of ya. Don't do it. And, that's all. That's all."

A grin broke over his face as he recalled the look on his mother's face when he had tried to explain to her how Mr. Bennett had said Mrs. Bennett was like a cow. He remembered she and his father discussing Mrs. Bennett and the cow behind the closed doors of his father's study. He had heard them laugh at the last and remembered how relieved he was that they were not angry with him. His parent's laughter. A soft sad smile rested upon his lips remembering the sound of them together. His father loved his mother deeply. He rubbed his cheek against Pamela's head once more.

A day or two later his father had brought up the work of butterflies with flowers and had tried to equate them with the cow and Mrs. Bennett. He had been thoroughly confused and decided to answer *yes, sir* when asked if he understood. Then, he had held his breath hoping against hope that his father would not want him to regurgitate the meaning of his message. But he did! Thank God, Mr. Butler had run up with an emergency from the village. He had been sure to avoid his father for a few days after and fortunately he forgot to get back with him on the meaning. He sighed. Maybe he should have after all.

There was one rope there he saw he could hold onto. Mr. Bennett and Dr. Sebastian seemed to be in agreement in one aspect, and indeed, so was his own nature. Stay calm, be supportive, and just continue to love her. He mused over Mr. Bennett's advice a final time. The part about *the body and the mind in a tussle over the new boarder.*

Maybe time would ease off the mental handsprings going on in his wife's mind. Maybe when her mind and her body knew of *the boarder* as Mr. Bennett had put it she would return to her old self. That was something to be hoped for. But he loved her. He knew that. If there is a child, he would love it, too.

But what if she were not pregnant? Sebastian had said it was too soon to know. What would cause her behavior if she was not expecting? The trauma of the last weeks? She has been through a lot. He would be glad to see her safely in Gibraltar.

The ship's bell drew his attention from his thoughts. It was very late. He yawned, knowing he needed to stop this analysis. He also needed to talk to Sebastian to discover the other *symptoms* he mentioned. Not knowing was a trial. Waiting another one or two months seemed unbearable. He really needed to go to sleep. He ordered himself to stop thinking. Would it be a boy or a girl? He smiled, knowing he would not care. Either would represent the miracle of life and his love for Pamela. His mind and body eased into the steady spell of rest that encapsulated his partner.

Pounding. Horses hooves? A herd of horses came running over the green meadow towards the tree where he and Pamela were preparing a picnic in the noonday sun. He was dressed in his formal leftenants uniform. She was wearing a broad brimmed hat, dressed in a gauzy summer dress. A breeze whipped her skirts about her legs. A navy blue sash ran around her middle and tied in a huge bow in the back. A child lay sleeping in a basket in the shade of the tree. He wanted to look at the child, wondering if it were a boy or a girl. If he could lift the blanket to see how it was dressed he would know. Why did she not tell him its gender? She was holding a plate towards him. What did she say? *Would he like to eat some mortars?* Eat some mortars? He jumped coming aware of the sounds in his ears. A drum beat repeated rapidly and he heard the shouts.

"Beat to quarters! Beat to quarters!"

Hornblower dressed rapidly. Pamela looked up at him with sleepy eyes.

"What is it, Horatio?"

"I don't know." But he could guess, and he did not like it. His body clock told him it had to be early yet. Kneeling beside the bunk, he stroked her hair seeing her sleeping once more. "Darling?" he said softly. "It might be best if you dressed." He wanted her in the orlop if this were what he feared it was. Smoothing her hair a last time, he kissed her forehead. Sword buckled, he headed for his station.

The gray of an overcast dawn greeted him along with an oddly cool late spring. The men prepped the cannon here as they did on the gundeck. The Midshipman, Cleveland, James, Cutter, stood with the gun crews waiting for orders. Pellew was on the quarter-deck peering into the distance, along with Bracegirdle, McMasters, and Bowles

He tried to look across the gray expanse of water. The quarter-deck would give a higher advantage. Rising to the quarter-deck, he glanced aft noting the decks of Dolphin crawling with men and topmen prepared for battle. Turning back to the Indy's waist he saw Sebastian climbing out onto the deck, Kennedy following. Both were uniformed, Archie wearing his sling, though his arm was not in it. The two followed him to the quarter-deck. Taking position, all attention focused east northeast.

In the distance, sail on the horizon. The small field telescopes snapped to full extension in the hands of Hornblower and McMasters joining Pellew's larger glass. Pellew handed his to Bracegirdle. "Mr. Bowles, bring us around. We have just re-entered the war, sir. Mr. Bracegirdle, signal Mr. Rampling to stay close, then identify us to Dreadnought."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Hornblower counted the ships in the distance. A Spanish frigate, no, two, escorting two French schooners. Were they supply ships? Behind them, Dreadnought and Swiftsure, Britain's ships of the line. The enemy ships made a clumsy tack northerly, not expecting to see Indefatigable in their path. They were in a run. The danger was not eminent. It would take some time for Indefatigable to draw near enough for battle, but Bowles was giving the order to do just that.

Pellew glanced at Sebastian. "Early rising, Dr. Sebastian."

"Aye, Captain. I came to see for myself if sick berth would be moving to the orlop."

Pellew thought a moment. "Better safe than sorry, doctor. Best move them." He eyed Kennedy, passing a final glance over Sebastian. "Mr. Kennedy, take the starboard number one gun crew and if I see you misuse that arm of yours..."

"I will not, sir!" Archie said quickly looking from Captain to Doctor waiting but a moment for a protest. He headed for his position.

Brandon stepped on deck feeling Archie whoosh by him to the guns. He looked up to the command deck seeing Sebastian on his way down.

"We're moving, sir?" asked Brandon of Sebastian.

"Yes." The two disappeared below.

"Captain Pellew, sir. Look," said Bracegirdle as he passed him back the glass.

He raised it scanning the horizon east and south. "Damn me!"

Hornblower moved closer to him turning his glass. His stomach flipped.

"Looks like that east wind is blowing some business our way," stated Pellew.

"Do you think Dreadnought and Swiftsure are aware, sir?" asked Hornblower still peering in the distance.

Pellew snapped the glass open and up again. "Get us over there, Mr. Bowles! Mr. Hornblower,..."


He turned. Hard eyes softened a moment resting on those of his leftenant. Quietly he said, "Get your wife moved to the orlop."

"Aye, aye, sir." Hornblower descending was stopped by a call from his captain.

"Mr. Hornblower!"


"Tell her I said that is an ORDER!"

Hornblower fought the corners of his mouth. "Aye, aye, sir!"

His gaze caught sight of Archie with his gun crew. Their eyes met. Horatio looked over the starboard rail. Bowles' handling of the ship made the view eastward visible. Archie looked seaward as well. Behind the two British ships of the line were two Spanish tripple-deckers and one double. What else might be coming from the Straits? When Archie looked back, Horatio was gone.

On the gundeck, the steward was distributing a cold breakfast to the men. Battle on a full stomach was always preferable. They were at the ready. All signs of hammocks and tables gone, only guns and crew, shot, powder, and wad.

Hornblower entered his cabin. She was sleeping as he had left her. He pulled her navy blue dress from the trunk. "Pamela." He studied her face. The purpling bruise had turned a pale yellowish green color. The cut on her cheek was much reduced. But there was something different. She did not look well. "Darling." He smoothed her cheek. It was warm to his touch. "Pamela." He pulled her up to lean against him. "I need you to dress, dear. You've got to go to the orlop."

She opened her eyes to look at him. They felt hot and tired. She could see the worry in his face.

"The orlop?"

"Yes. Dr. Sebastian and the sick berth will be with you. You must go."

"All right, Horatio."

This was too easy, he thought. No protests? He put the back of his hand to her cheek again. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, yes. I am fine." In truth, she felt sick, but she did not want him to know. "What's going on?"

"Enemy ships have been sighted. We are being cautious. I need you to dress."

"Could you get me a drink, Horatio? Please?" She wanted him out before she became physically sick. "Please, dear?"

"There might be some cold tea," he said anxious to get her to safety and anxious to return topside.

"That would be marvelous. Thank you."

"Please, dress quickly."

He left. She knelt over the nearest bucket feeling her insides upheave with nothing to show for it. She leaned against the bunk. Perspiration popped onto her fevered brow. What was wrong? Dressing felt like she was a plucked cotton ball trying to move inside a bale. She felt her stomach pinching in nausea. Swallowing, she gulped the air before once again bending over the bucket. Nothing. Panting at the autonomic exertions, she needed air. Tugging her brush through her hair, she tossed her cloak over her, leaving the cabin.

The ship did not pitch unusually. Actually, it had more of a steady motion to it than the last twenty-four hours. Why was she sick? She pulled her hood closer down over her head. Where was Horatio? Air, she needed fresh air.

The men on the gundeck watched her exit and climb the stairs. She gave them but a parting glance. A couple of them mumbled to find Mr. Hornblower. She emerged on deck. The starboard crews gazed east. She could tell she would not be able to move to the rail. There was Archie. What was he doing up here? Beyond him, she saw the tips of several masts on the far horizon. The information distracted her from her queasy stomach and for a few moments she was free of the malady. The officers on the quarter-deck looked eastward as well. She made it her destination.

Bowles spotted her first. She walked aft around the men standing forward with Pellew.
Leaning against the rail, she let the east wind blow into her face. It cooled her and soothed the nausea. Her lips parted at the sight convening before her.

Bowles peered into the waist looking for Hornblower.

Closing her eyes, she clutched her stomach. She swallowed the sea air fighting another wave of nausea. Holding the rail, inching toward the man closest forward, she asked if she might use his spyglass. It was McMasters. He was so startled to see her there he passed it to her.

Pellew closed his eyes hearing her voice. He looked around him for Hornblower. He stepped towards her mastering the anger that sought release, the men next to him moving out of his way. He stood watching her gaze through the telescope.

"They're magnificent!" she whispered.

He inhaled, clasping his hands tightly behind his back, looking shipward, then back to her. His anger eased, awestruck. A woman admiring fighting vessels!

She spoke again. "They glide on the water like silent mountains, blown with a billowing cloud! I've never seen so many! They're beautiful! Just awesome! I count nine. Is that right?"

"Eleven, madam, counting Indefatigable and Dolphin," said Pellew dryly.

She startled at his voice. Lowering the glass, she turned to Pellew feeling her cheeks burn more intensely. She could tell he was not pleased to see her on his command deck. Finding McMasters, she returned the instrument. "Thank you, kind sir." Turning her head out of the wind brought the nausea back to her. Quickly, she faced the stiff breeze.

McMasters shied away from his captain's disdainful look. "Your welcome, ma'am."

Feeling she could speak, she said lightly, "Good morning, Captain."

The redness in her cheeks caught his eye. He inclined his head trying to see her better. Her forehead was wet with perspiration even in the coolness of the morning. "Why are you up here, madam?" The concern in his voice surprised him.

"I... I needed some air, sir." She gulped it, closing her eyes, fighting back the queasiness.
He was about to speak when she fell forward into his arms. "I'm sorry, Captain."

He felt her shivering while the heat of her body floated towards him. Searching her features, her eyes were red and dull. "You are not well, " he stated. He supported her.

"I'll be all right." She pushed herself away from him. Standing straight, a smile quivered on her lips and then she fainted.

Holding her in his arms, he asked in agitation, "Where is Mr. Hornblower?" Her forehead touched his cheek. He leaned her out from him, putting his hand on her brow. "She's burning up with fever, damn it! Mr. Bracegirdle, Mr. McMasters, get her to Dr. Sebastian."

McMasters made his way down the companion to the gundeck, Pamela in his arms. Bracegirdle steadied him. Horatio was on his way up when he saw them. "What happened?" he asked taking her from McMasters arms.

"I'm going back topside," said Bracegirdle.

"Thank you, sir." Hornblower headed for the orlop.

McMasters, making a way before him, explained what occurred on the quarterdeck.
"Then, she fainted. Captain Pellew thinks she has a fever."

Hornblower went down the final flight of stairs.

"Have you got it from here, Mr. Hornblower?" asked McMasters, turning to go back up.

"I do. Thank you, Mr. McMasters." He carried her quickly to the orlop area sick berth.

"What happened, Mr. Hornblower?" Sebastian cleared an operating table for her.

Brandon took one look at her and knew she needed a fever reducer. "I'm on it, doctor," said Drew.

"I don't know. She was sleeping when I came in last night. This morning I have not had time to ... she said she was fine," he blurted anxiously.

Sebastian put his hand on her forehead. "She is burning. Go on, Mr. Hornblower, we will take care of her." Hornblower hesitated, torn between his duty and his wife. "I will do what I can. Do not worry. I will send you word."

He caressed her cheek and pulled himself back topside. He joined the quarter-deck.

"Well, Mr. Hornblower?" asked Pellew, moderately surprised to see him.

"There was a problem with the galley guns, sir. The crews needed assistance. Sorry to take so long," he answered trying to be the officer Pellew expected, more concerned with his duty than his personal life.

"And, your wife?" This was the information he was requesting. He marveled that Hornblower gave the other first.

"I... I don't know, sir. I'm sorry, sir," he answered, turning his gaze to the enemy ships they were rapidly approaching. Indefatigable was closing with the outside frigate accompanying the two schooners.

"Starboard bow chaser, Mr. Bracegirdle, when you're ready," ordered Pellew.

"Starboard bow chaser, fire!" shouted Bracegirdle.

The projectile was the first volley of many. The Spanish frigate continued at a pace with the schooner. The Indy under greater sail pulled closer, becoming near parallel. The order was given to fire when ready. The forward guns let go. Cannonball tore through the frigate's mizzen sail and onto her quarter-deck.

The Spanish gun crews fired. The first shot landed forward of the Indy's bow. Bowles was calling orders to the topmen to get the most out of the wind pressing them slowly but steadily nearer. The guns fired again finding the target they sought. A gaping hole stared from the enemy vessel's port side. The Spanish crews fired again. This time the shot hit the forecastle sending splinters into Indefatigable's foreward gun crew. Cries of pain accented the cannon fire.

Hornblower entered the waist striding forward. He would do what he could to assist the depleted crews. He hopped over the remains of a man, no longer recognizable. Another shot landed amidships punching a hole in the deck to enter the one below. He felt the spray of splinters pelt against his back. Shouts of pain spewed from below. Dragging Cutter to lean against the fo'csle, a splinter loosed red blood onto the back of his middy jacket. Hornblower took over his gun crew.

"Surgeon! Surgeon!" He yelled for help for Cutter. "Reload, men!" he shouted, dragging another man's body from behind the cannon trucks.

"Fire!" Came a familiar voice from his right. It was Archie.

"Fire!" he yelled to his crew.

The Indy's cannon continued to fire aiming to cripple the Spanish frigate. At last a shot rang true, cutting the foremast of the frigate in two. With a splintering crack, it tumbled into the sea dragging beside the bow. Men on the frigate deck worked to cut the lines away and free them from the drag.

Indefatigable starboard guns let go another volley into the frigate. An explosion rocked its deck as the cannonball found a store of powder. The Spaniard ceased firing. The Indy fired again cutting the rigging and sending spar to the Spanish deck.

Hornblower sighted his gun high to cripple the mainmast. "Fire!" Several other guns went off at the same time. One of them found the mark. The frigate was dismasted save the mizzen mast. Her colors descended quickly down her halyard.

>From the quarter-deck, Pellew had tracked the other ships. Dolphin pulled past them and assaulted the outside schooner, her guns taking out the mainmast. The second Spanish frigate was maneuvering to take on Dolphin. The British ships of the line, far back, turned to face the trio of approaching Spanish vessels, trading broadside for broadside. Cannon fire reverberated in the early morning air.

Indefatigable moved to assist Dolphin. Pulling into position, the crews fired into the second Spanish frigate. They returned the volley punching holes into Indy's foremast sail. The wind turned her giving the dropping ball only ocean water to crash. Again, the bow chasers blasted out the heavy shot into the Spaniards side. Cannon smoke billowed from the starboard side of the Spanish. They were firing on Dolphin on the one side and the Indy on the other. The smoke obscured the view.

Bowles gave the order to bring the Indy on a northeasterly larboard tack. When the smoke cleared, the Indy was nearly sprit to sprit with the Spanish Frigate. Marines on both ships fired into the other. Hornblower heard the musket balls pelting the wooden floor and walls around him. He held his breath as the two ships avoided collision. Archie, further back on the deck ordered his two guns to fire as they passed sending the cannonballs hard into the frigate's bow. She grazed Indy's stern in passing. Marines ran to the quarter-deck firing into the enemy ship. The aft guns fired into her starboard side, while the Spanish starboard ones fired wildly missing Indefatigable's stern.

Clearing the frigate, Pellew could see Dolphin, smoking in the distance. One of her sail was ablaze, but she moved slowly towards the schooner. He saw the topmen cut away the canvas, the wind taking most of the burning bits into the ocean. Men on deck worked the pumps to douse the flames. His eyes moved to the schooner. He could see Dolphin's crews aimed to cripple.

Dolphin concentrated on the closer ship. Rampling succeeded. Pellew watched the schooner strike her colors. His attention returned to the frigate behind them. She was running and seemed to set a course around the British ships to rejoin the remaining schooner. Pellew peered through the glass to the far horizon at the ship fight going on there, then back to the other schooner, unharmed, pulling away from the fray. He set his jaw. "After her, Mr. Bowles!"

"Aye, aye, sir."

There were a few moments peace. Hornblower scanned the deck for wounded. His men, Oldroyd, Styles, Stephens, Hardy did what they could to assist Sebastian's men who were ferrying wounded below as fast as they could. Matthews was leaning over Midshipman James seemingly dazed from a head wound. Cutter was gone. He did not remember when he was taken. The dead were lain near the launches to keep the fighting deck clear.

Archie was completing a similar scan. Their eyes met at the same moment. His blue-eyed friend broke into a grin and gave him a salute. Hornblower nodded at him, then glanced at Pellew gazing far to starboard. His eyes followed his Captain's. The schooner. He looked larboard at the Spanish frigate, nodding his head at his captain's decision. They would go for the schooner. The frigate would follow and then they would have it as well. What could be so important a transport to have so many of the Spanish navy giving protection? He looked aft. Dolphin was boarding the other schooner. Beyond that he saw the first Spanish frigate in a list. Would she sink? And even farther back, the sound of cannon fire between the larger fighting vessels. The wind brushed his face. Giving attention to the gun crews, he readied them once more.

The peace was short lived. The Spanish frigate let go a starboard broadside. Indefatigable rocked at the impacting cannonball. Kennedy took it on himself to re-order the range of the larboard guns. He looked back to Bracegirdle.


Checking the range from the first cannon fire, Kennedy moved down the line of guns giving the order. Hornblower stood watching the effects. The Spanish frigate received the brunt of Indefatigables shots, then seemed to veer to larboard avoiding several of the last volleys.

Pellew's eye was on the schooner. She was his prey. More sail was unfurled, they were gaining on her.

Hornblower moved to the fo'csle to observe the chase. The forward caronades awaited the order. It was given. The shot hurled toward the little schooner breaking her main mast in two. She did not have long before they overtook her. He watched as a man on the schooner rushed to her side to drop something overboard. He cursed when he saw it, recalling to mind his own dispatches that he never so assigned to the briny deep. He looked back at Pellew with glass to eye. He could tell by his expression that he had seen it too. What was on with these ships? Why would they be carrying dispatches by sea? Where were they going? All these questions gathered unanswered in his mind.

Drawing near the schooner, a crew was dispatched overside in the longboat with a squad of marines. Pellew waited until he knew the schooner was in hand before he left the boarding crew. There was no defense. Their surrender was immediate. With the schooner incapacitated, Pellew turned his attention to the frigate, ordering the helm on a course to intercept.

At a moment it seemed the Spanish Captain knew it was futile. Saving his own ship became his goal. He did not know who was commanding the British frigate, but he knew a capable adversary when he saw one. He turned his ship to fly with the wind and ran.

Pellew hated letting the Spaniard go, but had no desire to engage in a lengthy stern chase with his crew already depleted and three prizes in disarray behind him. He gave the order to set a course back to the schooner. Tacking back took awhile. At last the Indy pulled within shouting distance of the small ship.

"What have you Mr. McMasters?" called Pellew to his leftenant.

"A Frenchman, sir, says he is a delegate for the French Republic. And, sir, there's a chest full of gold on board. Shall I send it over?"

Pellew glanced at Bracegirdle. "Hold onto it, Mr. McMasters. We'll come along side and have it swayed up." He turned to Bracegirdle. "Prepare our guest lodgings for the prisoners."

"Our gaol seems to be getting a work out this deployment, sir."

"Indeed." Finding Hornblower amid the masses in the waist he called him.


"Get a repair crew going there in the waist. I want that schooner mast patched and sail rigged as soon as possible. Kennedy, take the gun deck. See to repairs needed there."

Hornblower smiled at his friend. "And, don't use that arm either."

Kennedy returned the grin, then answered his captain. "Aye, aye, sir."

The schooner bumped against Indefatigable. Styles, Oldroyd and Stephens made her secure. She was not much bigger than the pirate yacht that had met them days ago,
a fine looking ship shining with new varnish over wooden trim. Her captain and crew were sent up the side of the Indy to their imprisonment. The delegate was met by Pellew with Bracegirdle and Hornblower at his side.

"You have quite ze catch, Capeetan." The man bowed slightly. "I am Monsieur Guillaume de Tulède, delegate of ze Republic of France."

Pellew returned the bow. "Captain Sir Edward Pellew, sir. Would you care to explain just where you are going, sir?"

"Merely an outing, Capeetan."

"With a chest full of gold and a Spanish guard?"

The man shrugged. "One can nevair ave too much gold, monsieur. And, zese days eet is wise to be well protected on ze high seas, no?"

"Place him under guard, Mr. Bracegirdle."

Hornblower and Pellew looked over the side as the chest of gold coins were placed in the netting for swaying. "Mr. Hornblower, have it placed in my cabin for the time being. We shall try to join up with the fleet south of us as soon as possible. Let me know when the schooner is ready to sail. I suppose it best to check with Jervis before sending her anywhere else."

"Admiral Jervis, sir?"

"Indeed, Mr. Hornblower." Pellew left him standing awestruck in the waist. He had never seen Admiral Jervis or his ship. That would be something to savor.

"Careful, men. Sway it in easy, easy. Lower, easy now." The chest sat with a thump on the deck despite the netting beneath. "Styles, Oldroyd, lend a hand with this." The two men picked it up with a grunt.

"This is like lead, this is!" said Oldroyd.

"Aye, but worth a hell of lot more," added Styles.

"Belay that! Starns, get your repair crew on that mast. I'll be back in a moment. Follow me you two." Hornblower led the gold carriers to Pellew's cabin. He knocked.


"I've the chest, sir."

"Oh, fine. Place it here, Mr. Hornblower." Pellew moved a chair out of the way.

The chest was stuck in a corner of his office area near the stern windows. Pellew figured his marine guarded cabin was as safe a place as any until the chest could be turned over to the Admiral. Oldroyd and Styles left, Hornblower was about to leave when Pellew spoke to him.

"Mr. Hornblower, you have the repair crews working?"

"Aye, sir."

"Good. I've another duty for you." He sat peering over his paperwork, not looking at his officer.


"Check with Sebastian, see how the wounded are doing. Let me know the status of the crew."

Hornblower smiled. "Aye, aye, sir. Thank you, sir."

Returning to the waist, he made sure the repairs were going on unhindered. Starns seemed to have the activities well in hand. "I shall return shortly, Starns, to check on your progress."

"Aye, aye, Mr. Hornblower."

Entering the gundeck, he found Archie bent over one of the guns knocked off its truck. "Much damage, Mr. Kennedy?"

Kennedy jumped at his address. "Don't sneak up on me like that, Mr. Hornblower."


"Yes, the damn things popped off its carriage. Going to be the devil to get it reseated."

"I have every confidence in your abilities, Mr. Kennedy." He slapped him on the shoulder. "But don't try to lift it yourself. Remember that shoulder!" he called as he left the deck.

"You're starting to sound like Dr. Sebastian. You're both a couple of old mother hens!" he called after his friend as he disappeared to the lower deck.

The orlop was dark except for the few lanterns dotted around the beams. Several hung over the chests used for operating tables. Hornblower's eyes roved the scene. Most of the men seemed to be ambulatory. Sebastian was fitting a bandage to a mans shoulder, Brandon dabbed at a cheek, and Johnson helped a man up the stairs. Loblolly boys mopped the deck, ferrying waste water to the bilge.

"Dr. Sebastian. The captain has sent me to inquire after the crew."

"Hmm. Well, I suppose it could have been worse. Wounded ..." he thought "Nine, isn't it, Drew?"

"Yes, sir. The carnage seems to be at two extremes, either dead or light wounds. I suppose that is something to be thankful for."

"I counted three dead, sir, is that correct?" asked Hornblower.

"Yes," sighed Sebastian. "Three dead, nine wounded. Drew is right. The wounds seem light. No limbs missing, thank the Lord." Sebastian turned his eyes from bandaging to Hornblower who seemed to be peering into the dark recesses of the orlop. "Come back tomorrow, Jordan, I will check the wound and change the bandage."

"Thank you, doctor."

"Wait. Drink this before you go." He placed a cup in Jordan's hand. He stepped next to Hornblower. "I think you seek another casualty," smiled the doctor.

"Is she all right?"

"Come. I have not checked on her since before the fighting."

The two ducked walking under the beam supports of the deck above. Between the beams one could stand, but traversing the length of the deck it was wise to duck. About half way down the keel, tucked between the knees of the ship was a low crate. One of the lanterns hung from a nearby beam. On an upturned bucket sat Seaman Carden, the man who had lost his arm on Dolphin. Pamela was curled up on the crate.

"Mr. Carden, thank you for watching her for me," said Sebastian. "I did not want her at the mercy of the rats so I asked Mr. Carden to sit with her."

"Thank you, Carden," said Hornblower.

"Glad to do it, Mr. Ornblower. She's been peaceful after that last draught you got down her, sir." Carden moved back to the orlop sick berth area.

Sebastian placed his hand on her forehead. It was much cooler. He sighed.

"What is it, doctor?" whispered Hornblower.

"I do not know, Mr. Hornblower. I can treat her symptoms, fever, nausea, but I do not know. She does not seem to have any other symptoms than these. They could presage many things. We will watch her to see if any others arise."

"Nausea, sir?"

"Yes, the first cup of willow bark we administered came back up immediately. I asked her if she had been vomitous earlier. She had. So, I combined some ginger with the next cup of tea hoping to ease her stomach and the fever. It seems to have worked."

Hornblower squatted beside the crate, stroking her forehead. "Does this have anything to do with..."?

Sebastian pulled him away from her and whispered lowly to him. "Nausea is a sign, Mr. Hornblower. Fever, I do not know, but it is possible. Who can know what happens in the female body when pregnant? We know very little as I told you. It is a shame we do not know more. We can only treat the symptoms and take it from there. You did not know of her nausea?"

"No, sir."

"Then, we will assume it is a new occurrence. She could not have been hiding it from you for very long." Hornblower quavered that she might be hiding anything from him. "You must be sure she does not become dehydrated, Mr. Hornblower."

"Can I take her back to our cabin?"

Sebastian smiled. "Is the Captain finished fighting for the day?"

"As far as I know, sir," smiled the leftenant.

"It would be good to get her away from the vermin down here most assuredly."

"Thank you, sir." He went back to squat beside her stroking her forehead once more. Her skin temperature felt normal. When she did not immediately awaken, he pulled the bucket over to sit on. He knew he could not stay down here too much longer, but he did not want to wake her abruptly. He took her hand in his, resting his elbow on the crate, turning the back of it to kiss. Gazing at her, he felt the guilt of having to leave her that morning, of having to rush her so that he did not see she was sick. He held her hand next to his cheek rubbing it there.

She let out a sigh and moved on the crate. She squeezed his hand and released it, turned on the crate to the wall, then opened her eyes. She turned her head to look at him. "Horatio?"

"Yes, dearest."

She turned on the crate to face him. "You are all right. What happened? Did I miss anything?"

He chuckled. "I am afraid you did."

"Oh." She reached to stroke his cheek, gazing into his weary face. "I love you." He moved to sit on the crate taking her in his arms. He held her closely. She kissed his cheek. The smell of gun powder on his clothes alarmed her and she hugged him tighter and he her. "What is it, Horatio?" she asked as he continued to hold her. She felt him shake his head. "Darling?"

At last he swallowed and spoke. "I had to leave you. You weren't well and I had to leave you."

"I'm all right. Dr. Sebastian took care of me. You must not worry." They faced one another.

"Why did you not tell me you were sick?"

"I didn't ...I..." she hated to say more, she did not want to lie to him.

"Dr. Sebastian says ..."

She placed her fingers over his lips. "I'm fine now. I feel fine." She looked at her fingers. "Kiss me, Horatio." He looked from her eyes to her lips, feeling her fingers move to his cheek. He kissed her, disappearing into their world of love, comfort, and closeness. He felt her hand on his head and sunk deeper into her embrace. Thinking about her passed out in his arms, he felt the prick of tears. He had been too occupied earlier to give it a thought until now. And while the thought of her ill and alone worried him, the fact that he could give his duty his attention encouraged him. Leaving her was imminent. He was an officer in His Majesty's Navy. It was his job; it was his life. But, for this moment, he still had her with him. As long as it was possible, he would cherish their time together.

She felt a tear seep beneath her fingers resting on his cheek and kissed him more intensely, wiping it away. The moisture combined with the powder smell to imbed another memory of the man she loved. War seemed to intensify her feelings. She knew their parting grew nearer by the moment and while she dreaded its coming she knew it had to come. He was an officer in His Majesty's Navy. She felt her heart swell with pride within her. He was destined for greatness, she knew it to the marrow of her bones. Who could she be that would keep him from his destiny? That she could be part of it was enough. That she might bear his children was a blessing of a magnitude she could not conceive. That he would love her out of all the women in the world filled her with awe and gratitude. They ended the kiss forehead to forehead, kissing lips lightly. He hugged her again inhaling next to her ear.

"I need you, Pamela. I need you like the air that I breathe."

She hugged him close pressing out a tear from tightly shut eyes. These she must learn to control. When it came time for him to leave her, she had to control her tears. She felt she had to let him go without remorse, to make it as easy as possible for him to return to duty. She rested her cheek against his wool covered shoulder. These little separations she laid as a foundation for when they would ultimately part. And, as a solace, she stacked each memory of reunion in a pile close to her heart. All of these would sustain her, wiping out the memory of partings with her second husband that left her a widow. She could not let herself think on William. She could not let herself compare these two men of the sea. She inhaled to steal herself against these thoughts.

"I'm hungry. Is there anything to eat?"

He chuckled in her embrace. "I'm pouring out my heart to you and all you can think about is food?"


"I'm teasing you, sweetheart. I don't know if meals have been considered yet. We shall have to see."

She insisted on coming topside with him, no longer feeling self-conscious about her face. He held her hand all the way to the gun deck where they stopped to speak to Archie.

"We made it through this one, Mrs. Hornblower."

"So I see. How did you talk Dr. Sebastian and the Captain into releasing you?"

"I don't think the captain's realized yet," he whispered with a smile.

"Well, I can tell you are back in your element, Mr. Kennedy," she smiled.

"And I see you are in yours,"

She smiled leaning against Hornblower. "Belay that," Hornblower whispered. "I can get away with holding your hand up the stairs, but no more." She straightened and tried to let go of his hand. He held on smiling at her. "Come on. See you later, Mr. Kennedy."

"Indeed, Mr. Hornblower."

He pulled her behind him up the stairs. Turning, he could see the mast of the schooner held by the tackle. He released her hand walking to the side. "Any problems, Starns?"

"Oy. Mr. Hornblower, sir. Not yet! I can patch her to get her to Gibraltar, but this mast should be replaced as soon as possible." He went back to his patching.

"I'll make note of your recommendations."

She looked around the deck surveying the damage. To larboard was the hole created by the cannonball going below. It was directly above where Kennedy was working. It must have been what knocked the cannon off its cart. Another of the carpenters sat smoothing the ragged edges with a patch piece sitting near by. She gasped when she saw the bodies covered on the deck. Hornblower heard her.

Striding to stand beside her, he said, "I should not have brought you up here. It is too soon. I am a fool."

"No. I wanted to come. I'm all right. I would be out of your way on the quarter-deck. May I go there?"

"Yes. Come."

The view from the taff gave another sight. "May I use your glass?" she asked.
He pulled it from his coat pocket, extended and handed to her.

"I need to check the progress of the repairs. Wait here. I will find out about some food for you."

He hoped she would stay that far back. A burial crew would be coming on deck to sew the bodies in canvas. He did not want it to be a sight for her to remember. Seeing her look at the ships in the distance, he returned to his duty.

His long legs carried him to the opposite end of the ship. He recalled a shot early on hitting them in the bow area. Climbing to the forecastle he looked about him. No damage here. He leaned over the side. A gaping hole met his eyes. He swung himself over by the heads. Leaning out he could peer through the hole. If Sebastian had not moved the sick berth there would have been more casualties. He wondered if Archie were aware of the mess in sick berth. It would not do to be in high seas with this new entry way. He climbed back to the fo'csle, walked to the larboard side inspecting Indy's hull. "Damn." He could not see very well. He entered the waist. "Here, you men, swing the jolly boat over. I want to have a look at her hull."

"Mr. Hornblower!" Starns called him.


"I'm nearly finished here and it will be ready to rig. What's next fer me?"

"Hole in the bow. I'm getting ready to inspect the hull. Will we be able to move the schooner away?"

"Aye. I'll get the riggers over and tell *em to move her off. Bow ye say, sir?"


"Aye, aye, sir."

The jolly boat waited with two rowers. He climbed down into it. The boat carried him along the larboard side. He could see where the shot had grazed her in places. A ball had imbedded itself in her side. He shook his head. "Aft slowly, men," he ordered.

Pamela saw him and leaned on the rail to look down at him. "Hello, Mr. Hornblower!" she shouted.

He waved at her and saw her leaning precariously. "Careful, Pamela!"

"I'm all right!" she shouted.

Pellew heard the two of them shouting at each other. "What the devil?" He put on his coat and hat.

Powers entered his rooms. "Here's yer lunch, sir."

"Hmm? Go get another one. I'll be right back." He stepped into the waist seeing the men busy at repairs. "Have these men had their lunch, Mr. Bracegirdle?"

"I believe the steward is about to call the starboard watch to lunch, sir."

"Good, good. Mr. Hornblower is checking the hull?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good." He turned to climb to the quarter-deck. There she was looking through a glass at the ships in the distance. "Mrs. Hornblower. I am glad to see you are well."

She startled at his words nearly dropping Horatio's glass. "Oh! Captain!" She grabbed it before it hit the deck catching it in her skirts. "Oh, I don't want to drop this!" She collapsed it and stuck it in the pocket of her cape.

"I do apologize. I should have given you more warning. What did you see?" He moved to stand next to her.

She felt her face redden and turned to look in the distance. "Well, I see Dolphin back there with a smaller ship. Is that an enemy ship?"


"Dolphin is all right, isn't she? I mean the ship and the men?"

"She needs some repair, but she will be fine. I don't know about the men, but I pray there are few injured. And, you. Are you all right? You gave me quite a scare this morning."

She put her hand on his. "Oh, Captain, you are too kind. Yes, I am well. I can't imagine what came over me. One of Mr. Brandon and Dr. Sebastian's brews seems to have put me right. I am sorry I was so much trouble."

"Have you had anything to eat today, madam? It was early when you came topside this morning."

"No, sir, not yet. But Ho..Mr. Hornblower was going to check on lunch."

"Hmm. Yes, I can see that." He watched him in the jolly boat making his way beside the schooner waiting for it to be pushed off. Well, he could not damn his officer for doing his duty. "Mrs. Hornblower, would you do me the honor of having lunch with me?"

She blinked at him, suddenly aware of how she must look and at the plain dress she was wearing. "Captain, I...I don't know what to say?"

"Yes, will do."

"But I'm a sight, sir. Hardly dressed to have lunch with a captain."

"Are you hungry?"

"Starved, sir!" she smiled.

He held his arm out to her. "Come." She looped her hand onto his arm feeling butterflies dance in her middle. She wondered what Horatio would think, but let her hunger get the better of her.

She entered the sun sprayed cabin. "Oh, Captain, this is lovely. It was nice the evening we had dinner, but the sunlight coming through the windows defies description."

"Thank you, madam." He removed his hat placing it on the stand. "Give me your cloak." She undid the frog holding it together. "Would you care to wash before lunching?"

"Could I?" He lead her over to the small alcove that held his wash basin, giving her a towel. "Thank you, sir."

Powers stood nearby eyebrows raised. Pellew stared hard at him for a moment. "Madam, would you mind if I removed my coat?"

"No, Captain, please do be comfortable. It is warm in here," she called from the wash room.

He pulled it off handing it to Powers, daring him to say a word.

"Ah, Captain. I feel human again. Thank you."

He held her chair for her. "Please, join me."

She sat in the chair offered her. "What would you like to drink, Mrs. Hornblower?"

"Would you have any water with lime? Is that too much trouble?"

"Not at all. Powers?"

"Aye, sir." He left the room.

Her plate contained some slices of cold chicken, cold potatoes, and a dollop of pease. On a separate plate lay one of the pan fried biscuits. "This looks heavenly, Captain. I'm famished!"

He smiled. "Eat, then."

As hungry as she was she held herself back for proprieties sake. She dwelt on each mouthful relishing the flavor. At the point she was at, anything would have been delightful.

"I am glad to see you out of your cabin after your harrowing experience. I cannot begin to tell you how responsible I feel for your kidnapping."

"Do not feel so, Captain. It is in the past and best forgotten. You did all you could and you did rescue me. I am still here after all."

"Yes, thanks to Mr. Matthews quick thinking."

"Isn't he a dear? I just love Mr. Matthews."

Powers came in with a pitcher full of the lime water. He poured some in a glass for her. "Thank you, sir." She smiled at him, and drank it down. "Oh, my I did not realize I was that thirsty." Powers refilled her glass.

"Leave it with us, Powers."

"Aye, sir." He placed the pitcher on the table and quietly left the room.

Pellew leaned back sipping the white wine he was drinking with his meal, watching her eat. She noticed he had stopped eating and slowed herself by drinking the water, letting her eyes rise to meet his. She could feel his dynamism. She blinked at his presence, feeling her cheeks pink at his stare.

"How long have you been in His Majesty's Navy, Captain?"

He inhaled, placing his glass down and retrieving his fork. "Twenty years, or there abouts." He knit his brow thinking, no, it is more than twenty.

"That's a long time. You must have started very young."

"I did. Very young."

"I bet you were a handful as a midshipman," she looked at him askance, a soft smile crossing her lips.

He chuckled. "Madam, you don't know the half of it. But, let us cease speaking of me. What about you? What are your plans?"

"My plans? They are yours right now, sir."

He chuckled again. "Yes, our trip to Gibraltar seems interminable. But, rest assured, we will get there."

"I believe you, sir."

"So, what will you do there? You have no family in Gibraltar."

She sighed. "I will gather my resources and then decide ... with my husband, what I should do."

"Do you think England might become your home?"

"Perhaps. Where ever Horatio wants me, that is where I will be."

"It is a lonely life. The life of a navy wife."

"I know that, sir."

"But in America, you had your extended family."

"Captain... I do not deceive myself. Gibraltar will be lonely with Horatio at sea. I know that, believe me." She stood and walked to the stern windows. "Forgive me, sir." She dabbed her eyes with her napkin. He followed behind her.

"It is I that should ask forgiveness. I meant only ... I would not want to see either one of you hurt. I..." he started to tell her of his first wife, her despair at his long absence, her untimely death in child birth, his feelings of helplessness and hopelessness at her loss. "I know from experience the feelings of destitution." He turned away from her, she turned to him.

She reached for his hand, "Captain..." her touch stirred his emotions. He knew she should not be here alone with him. He turned to her. She reached up to touch his cheek, looking from eye to eye. "What happened to her?"

How could he tell her when it was suspected that she was with child? That would be too cruel. His heart was racing. He wanted her to stop touching him. He stepped back from her and turned, closing his eyes. This was not where he wanted this conversation to go.
" gone. I do not speak of her."

"But you have to me. You must have loved her deeply. I am sorry you lost her. If I have done anything to dredge up unhappy memories for you, please forgive me."

He remained quiet dealing with his kindled emotions about his wife, about her. How could he be feeling what he was towards her? This was never what he intended. No wonder Hornblower had fallen helplessly in love with her. Why did he not say something?

"I will do my best to make Horatio happy."

Hornblower. He inhaled, realizing he had not been breathing for the last several moments. "I am sure you will." He braced himself and turned to her. She had moved back to stare out the stern windows. He was relieved she had moved from him. A knock.


"Captain, you might want to come out here, sir," said Bracegirdle.

Pellew looked at his first leftenant and decided he was a God send. He grabbed his coat and hat, "Would you excuse me, madam?"

She smiled, "Of course."

He pulled on his coat and hat as he followed Bracegirdle out. He was definitely not expecting the sight that greeted him. "Mr. Hornblower! What on earth happened to you?"

"I slipped, sir. But, I hope it was not in vain." Water dripped from his hair and sputtered off his lips as he spoke. "I believe these are some of the dispatches the Frenchman tossed overside. Somehow they got loose. They were floating under the Indy and the schooner, sir. I don't know if the water might have damaged them..."

Pellew took them from him to examine. "No, by God! Excellent, Mr. Hornblower! You've earned your pay today, sir!" He turned them over, seeing them tightly wrapped, protected with wax from the weather they would encounter at sea.

"I ordered Mr. Cleveland to do another row around to see if there were more, sir."

"Excellent, sir! Go get into some dry clothes, Mr. Hornblower. Then, come to my cabin."

"Sir, if I may, I need to check on..."

"Do as I say, Mr. Hornblower."

"Aye, aye, sir." He was crestfallen. He knew Pamela must be starving. He hurried below, squishing in his shoes. He changed rapidly, briskly drying his hair with his towel. He pressed his foot into his boot again, shaking his head wondering if his shoes would ever dry out. He supposed he should be thankful they did not come off in the water. Opening his cabin door, he called for a cabin boy. He knew Pamela would not like finding a pile of wet uniform in their cabin and neither would he. The boy arrived. "Find a place to dry these, boy."

"Aye, aye, Mr. Hornblower!" The sandy blonde boy grinned at him showing two missing front teeth.

Hornblower felt his own stomach growl. Poor Pamela. He must do better about seeing to her needs. He bounded up the stairs, taking giant steps to knock on Pellew's door.

"Come." He stepped into Pellew's cabin. "Ah. There you are." he said quietly. "I shall leave this to you, sir."

He stood blinking in his Captain's cabin. Pamela was lying on his stern window seat fast asleep. "How, sir?"

"I confess, Mr. Hornblower. I asked your wife to lunch. When I returned from speaking with you I found her thus. I will leave you to wake her, sir."

"Thank you, for feeding her, sir."

"Don't take too long, Mr. Hornblower. I will be checking our status." With that, he left his cabin once more.

Hornblower smiled and shook his head. Sleeping again? He went to kneel beside her placing one arm on either side of her. He blew her hair by her ear. His stomach growled again. He saw her eyebrows move. A drop of water fell on her cheek from his hair. He reached to wipe it. She moved to turn her face into the sun. Another drip landed on her cheek. She opened her eyes recognizing his hand next to her, she smiled and turned to look at him, the most quizzical look coming over her features. "You're wet!"

He laughed. "You're asleep! Again!"

She looked around her. "Oh dear, Horatio. I am in your captain's cabin! What must he think?"

"He thinks you're sleepy, the same as I do." His stomach growled again.

"Is that you?"

"Yes. I'm starving!"

"Then, let's go eat!" She sat up.

"I thought Captain Pellew already gave you lunch."

"He did. But, I'm still hungry." She stood grabbing her cape and throwing it around her. "Don't tell him!"

"Ow! What have you got in that thing?" He shook his wrist where her cloak had brushed him. She pulled his glass out of her pocket.

"I'm sorry, dear." She pulled his wrist to her lips to kiss it. She raised her eyes to his looking over his hand. He could see her eyes full of mirth. She threw her arms around his neck. "I love you!"

He hugged her back. She released him hurrying to leave the cabin. "Food! Let's go eat!"
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