William Bush's Journal
Tempers are getting progressively more strained. I frankly
know what can be done.
Hornblower is completely exhausted and looks as if a stiff
would blow him over. But how else can he be expected to look, given
the circumstances? I have tried to remember the last time I actually
saw him getting some sleep, but the memory escapes me. It has been
far too long, I don't doubt. What kind of discipline is thirty-six
hours on watch, and what, exactly, is the lesson to be learned from
all of this?
And Wellard has suffered not just one, but two canings in as
days. I blame myself for the second one; I should have held my
tongue when the captain was off on a different scent. But how could
I have known he'd be so irrational on the subject of that young man?
And now to have this happen. A complete breakdown of discipline
belowdecks. A brawl in which the bosun's mate was very nearly beaten
to death. I have had very little contact with this man, Styles, but
he surely did not become a bosun's mate on his good looks. He is
reckoned a most able seaman by his comrades and looked to for
leadership in many situations. It was Randall and two of his cronies
who assaulted him.
Randall again. A pattern, perhaps?
And another most inexplicable reaction on the captain's part.
would have at least expected him to consider the case seriously;
after all a bosun's mate qualifies as a warrant officer. Which means
that Randall did, indeed, strike a superior. And yet he is not to be
More rewards for "loyal hearts"?
Hornblower and Kennedy are understandably upset; they have
served with Styles for some time and can be counted as knowing his
true worth. It was they, in fact, who broke in on the fight and put
a stop to it. Much of what I've heard about the matter is second-
hand and therefore of little use.
One fact of interest that I have heard is that Wellard was
the time, although why he failed to act is something of a mystery.
Kennedy did let one thing slip, however. He thinks that Doctor Clive
may have dosed the young man with laudunum after his beatings. If
true Wellard can not be depended upon to act in a manner conducive
with the good of the ship.
I sound like a frightful prig, don't I? However, the conclusion
inescapable. I would rather not believe it, but the more time that
passes on board this ship the more willing I am to believe almost
And the latest act of the drama now involves me directly.
I am to be
punished, along with Lieutenants Buckland, Hornblower and Kennedy.
For what? I'm not entirely sure I know. More combustible
accusations of conspiracy from Captain Sawyer, and I've been pulled
in along with the rest. And for the first time the captain made
reference to what must be his greatest dread.
Even the word itself can chill the heart. I have seen captains
lived in mortal fear of the ratings in their crew, but this is the
first time I've ever seen one so afraid of his officers. He actively
courts the support of the seamen at our expense. He made a vague
reference to it on Sunday, placing special emphasis on Article 19.
And his statement "This rule applies to my officers as well as to the
men.". What are we any of us supposed to make of that?
Hornblower has been sentenced to a further thirty-six hours
continuous watch. On top of that he, Kennedy, and myself are to
report to Mister Buckland every hour, day and night, fully and
properly dressed. To what end only the captain truly knows. From my
point of view the only end possible is exhaustion and further
problems. How can we be expected to fulfill our duties under the
circumstances? Our inevitable loss of abilities will play directly
into the captain's hands, supporting his contention that we are
nothing but a passle of "weak-kneed officers".
Doctor Clive is no help in any of these matters. He and Sawyer
friends and have served together for over fifteen years. There will
be no depending on him to do what is right for the good of this ship
and the good of the service.
Perhaps it is time to act.