by claartje

### indicates thought or some memory.

The two fragments:
"Anne, this may or may not come as a surprise to you. We have not known each other long. And I am still not certain if you caught me when I first saw you, or that you wound me around you little finger in the first weeks of our acquaintance. What I want to tell you or rather ask you is, will you marry me? Will you be my wife?" He reached into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out a small ring that had two inlaid stones. An amethyst and a sapphire. "I believe this is your size. Will you do me the honour to try and see if it fits?"
"Archie! Oh, yes I will, all you said! I would gladly be your wife. I will happily share my future life with you. But at Wesley Hall? Archie, are you sure? What about the navy? You won't give it up for me will you? You can't."
"Yes, I have never been more sure. For you I will try anything. Please, accept this ring, I am still holding it. It should have been around your finger by now. You have no idea how happy you have made me just now! I feel like I am the happiest person alive."
"Impossible, that is me." He slipped the elegant ring on her finger and tugged on her hand, making her lean over the table. Halfway across they met with a kiss. With her eyes still closed she said; "That is the third time you kissed me."
"Then let's tell them the good news. I think I just heard the carriage return." He stood up from the table, and helped her up. Together they walked to the front door.
"Wait. You still have tears on your face." He took a handkerchief and started to wipe them from her face. "I will do everything I can to never make you cry again. I promise."
"Promise to kiss me first. Let's start counting all over from our new start. You wanted three kisses, right?"
"I like that... you have a cunning mind. You make me forget myself." He brushed through her hair with his free hand. Then he lifted up her chin. The door opened. They had quite forgotten that they were by the door and they were startled out of their wits.
Mrs. Kennedy came through the door first. "Ah. There you are. Here now, what do you think you are doing?"
"We are celebrating." Archie said, and mischievously glanced at Anne, who seemingly had less control over herself.
"Then tell me, what is there to celebrate? Oh!" Mrs. Kennedy looked at them both and turned to Anne. "He has made you an offer, hasn't he? I knew it. Oh this is the best news I have heard all day! Those Philips's were so dull. No exiting news they had to tell." She walked a few steps back outside and gestured Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey to get inside and to hurry. "Come inside! There is great news to hear. Oh! I am so exited." She turned next to Archie. "You have been polite, I might hope, haven't you? Don't make Anne tell me you were not. Else you don't deserve her. And what of the Hall? You will accept?" She was calm and very much delighted with what she had just heard. "Come, come, all to the drawing room. That is best suited for occasions like these." Though they were still guests of the Humphrey's, Mrs. Kennedy had always had a hand at managing situations best. So therefore she commanded and the others obeyed.
Archie cleared his throat. "Anne and I have something to tell you." He looked around. It was obvious everyone knew what he was about to say, thanks to all the excitement raised by his mother. "We love each other very much, and have decided to get married. This morning I asked this lovely lady," he stole another glance at her, "and she has made me indescribably happy by telling me she would very much like to share her life with me. We are going to get married. And now we are going to continue what we were about to do before you came in." He lifted her chin for the second time. "This is one."
Which is where part III ends.


"Mommy, can I go play outside please? The rain has stopped... can I please?" A little boy of about seven years old was tugging at her skirt to get her attention. "Mommy, please?" He looked up at her, pleading with his bright blue eyes to go outside.
"Only if you will not jump in the puddles my dear. Think of poor Marianne have to clean your play-clothes again. She's just washed them."Anne said, tying a scarf around his neck. "Oh, and Robert, be home in time for dinner this time please."
Anne looked at her eldest son running over the front lawn to his friends from the village that were waiting for him to come out. It had been raining all week, and every time the sun would come out, even for only a few dry hours, she could not keep the boy inside. Matthew, his younger brother, had locked himself up in the library and kept himself busy looking in atlasses. He had not yet learned to read, but was eager to learn and was very fond of the coloured pictures. "Where is daddy now," he would ask "is he here?" And then he would point at some blue spot, indicating water. It didn't matter to him if it was a lake in the middle of Finland or somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. If it was blue, it was water. And daddy was on a boat and boats were in water, was the child's logic.
Anne sighed. It had been seven months now since Archie had left. She missed him terribly. She knew that if she had a bit more patience, the pain of having him so far away would eventually grow less. It always went that way. First very fierce, then slumbering. But she would miss him. Sometimes she cursed herself to sending him back to the sea. She did not consider herself to be an expert at this, it had only happened five times before, but still. Even though she knew the pain would cease, she had some difficulty handling it. Even more so with her darling children around the house. It was their father who was away. She turned around to walk back inside and was about to close the door behind her when something cought her eye. A carriage was entering the drive.
A familiar figure stepped out. It was captain Hornblower. But no first lieutentant Kennedy. Horatio was the only passenger.
Horatio was invited into the house, Jasper took his coat, and Anne led him to the sitting room. It was a small room, furnished with a settee, three elegant chairs and a few small tables. There was a fire in the hearth and the room was pleasantt. Anne and Horatio sat down and Anne rang for Penny to bring them a cup of tea. After Penny had entered and left the room again, Horatio asked "Mrs. Kennedy, I came here as fast as I could. Are you well?"
"Yes, I am, should I be otherwise?" she replied, a bit shocked by his question and manner of asking.
"Have you not heard the news then?" He asked, quite surprised.
"What news? Is it Archie? Is he unwell? He will recover from what's ailing him, won't he?" she asked. "Horatio, promise me that." She now had a very worried look on her face.
"If I could. Anne, Archie has-" Horatio tried "no, let me start at the beginning. I must better start at the beginning. We were in a storm. There were two other ships. One French. One unindentifiable. They both seemed to be in more trouble than we but there was not a lot of time to make sure. We could only watch, and try not to become too damaged ourselves. When the wind finally lay down again to a normal level of force, we were able to make a damage report. The other ships were nowhere to be seen at that time." Horatio paused when Penny came in with a tea tray. She placed the cups on the tables next to where the two people in the room were sitting and then left again.
"Where was I? The damage report," Horatio continued. Anne listened in silence. "There were a few sails that needed repairing and one yardarm had come down and hit three people. Two of them had died instantly and the third died three days later. One man had been thrown overboard. But aside from that the ship and crew had come through the storm reasonably well."
Horatio reached for his cup. "You want milk, or sugar?" Anne asked him, reaching for the little tray that carried both the sugar bowl and the milk. "No, but thank you for offering." He answered. Anne then poured some milk into her own cup and stirred her tea. They both were silent for a while. Anne because she wanted him to continue, Horatio because he didn't know how to continue. At last she spoke. "Will you tell me more?"
Horatio put down his cup on the table and looked at her. "What I will tell you now will probably upset you that's why it is so difficult to tell. But I must. I was surprised that you didn't already know, there should have been a messenger..."
"Horatio, tell me what happened, when it happened and how it happened. And what it has to do with Archie." Anne pleaded. "And don't spare me; I don't like you to keep hovering around the story."
"Anne, Archie has been killed during a fight with the enemy at sea, about a month ago. Someone stabbed him in the chest. He was taken to the infirmary and his wounds were treated, but that was all the doctor could do for him. He had lost a lot of blood. He died shortly after." Horatio's voice tembled a little, but he restored himself. It was not nescesary for him to cry. His heart would, but he, Horatio himself, wouldn't. He continued. "Just before he died Archie made me promise to make sure you would hear he died from me, so therefore I had sent a messenger with a letter explaining it all, two days before I left to come here. I would have come sooner, but the ships' repairs and the mandatory visits to the admiralty had to be seen to first."
"After the storm we sailed on to look for the two ships. The next day we found that one of them had hit a reef. There was not much left of it but there were still some who had survived. They jumped overboard when we were near enough. It was the French ship, and the people were taken prisoner by our men. Later in the day a raft carried two more people. Since they were also speaking French we first put them away with the others in the brig. Apparently only twenty people from two ships had survived. We then considered ourselves lucky to be spared such a fate." Horatio sighed. "Little did we know of how things would turn out."
Anne moved to the front of her seat. As if that way she would be closer to the story and it would be over soon. It needed to be over soon, or else she would start to cry in Horatio's presence. That had to be prevented at all cost. She looked at him from over the brim of her cup and he continued. "The prisoners were made to help repair the damaged sails by turn. It was then Lt. Kennedy found out that one of the prisoners was a deserted Englishman. Once he had sailed on the same ship as we, Archie and I, but he was shot and thought dead. Quite dead, until then. He was immediately put away from the others and was denied the right to work on the repairs."
A squeak from the door made them both start. Matthew had come in from the library and was looking for his mother. When he walked in he could see Captain Hornblower sitting in a chair, talking with his mother. "Mr. Captain Hornblower!" the boy shouted. "Did you bring home daddy?" he then asked.
"Matthew! Can't you see Mr. Hornblower has only just arrived? To come rushing in like you just did! Apologize to Mr. Hornblower Matthew..." Anne told her son, a bit more fierce than she wanted to.
"No he has not just arrived. He has been here since tea time. The cups are still on the table." the boy told his mother.
"Matthew, that is quite enough-" Anne was about to reprimand her boy, but then she was in such a state it would only make things worse. "Matthew, why don't you go look for your brother, Mr. Hornblower has something to tell you" she asked him instead.
To Horatio "I'm sorry I'm going to make you do this, but I simply can't. I have not even heard the close details and your story has already worn me out more than I expected. I'm sorry."
"Don't be-" Horatio took her by the hand and gently stroke the back of her hand. "You've only just heard you have lost your husband. I don't know many people who can cope with the death of a loved one like you do. You are brave." Horatio said.
"Maybe, but please do not continue before we've had dinner. I'm not that brave... Not at all actually. You will stay ofcourse, won't you? And I can't let you travel back to Portsmouth in this rainy weather either. Allow me to have Penny make you a bed so you can travel back tomorrow." Anne pleaded Horatio. Then she rang for Penny.
Only a few minutes later Penny entered the room. "Will you make sure an extra plate is set at the table for Mr. Hornblower, and that a room in the guest wing is prepared for him?" Anne asked her.
"Yes ma'am. Ofcourse ma'am. Can I take the tea things away now?" Penny asked. Then without waiting for an answer she took the cups and the tray, and left to see to what Anne had asked her to do.
It was after dinner, when the plates had been removed and the table was cleared that Horatio continued with his dreadful news. First there were the two boys who had to know that their father would never come home.
"Robert, Matthew, Mr. Hornblower has something to tell you. It's about your father." Anne said, and gestured for Matthew to come closer and took him on her lap. He was her favourite. He had a lot of his father in him. Like his brother he had his father's blue eyes, but he also had his father's grin, his lively nature. And he was the youngest. But Robert too was not even seven. Horatio gestured for Robert to come closer.
"You, Robert are the eldest, and what I will tell you is very important. Do you understand that?" he asked. The boy gave a nod. "Then I must ask you to be very brave and be a good example for you brother. And I will ask you to look after your mother, because she is only a girl. Girls need a little help now and then." Horatio looked at Anne. 'Sorry' he whispered. "You too now, Matthew pay attention. The reason I came here today is to tell your mother and you that your father won't come back here. He died at sea and he will never come back." Horatio stopped and looked at the faces of the little children. Their faces had turned pale, but no tears. *Yet*. That would come later, when the news would have completely made its way to their little heads and their hearts.
It was silent for a while. Or so it seemed at least. The 'tic toc' of the great standing clock in the hall could be heard, but no one paid attention to the sound. Then Anne broke their silence by telling her children it was time to go to bed. She took her children by the hand and brought them to their room. There she helped them into their sleeping clothes and tucked them in. "There now, she said. Think of happy things. And sleep." She kissed both of her boys on the forehead and then quitted the room.
When she came down the stairs Horatio stood there waiting for her. "I didn't know what room to go to. You have so many here" he said with a disoriented look and a wry smile on his face.
She gave him a quick smile and answered "I had to get used to it myself at first. And now I have. It is actually quite nice to have a different room for every occasion. Although sometimes I do think there are too many." She grinned as she stepped from the last stair into the hall. "We can go that way. It's time for tea again. I shall ask Penny. Or would you rather have made you some coffee?"
"Coffee please, if you don't mind. It's difficult to get some decent coffee made while on board. It would be a treat to have it now." He said to her, as they walked to the little sitting room where they had spent a few hours already today.
"Yes, Archie would also like coffee at this time. It is so strange to think I will never see him again. I will never pour his cup with coffee again. He will never sit with me in this room again, and he will never see his boys grow up. So many small things that seem so unimportant will never happen again. Excuse me for being so silly and rattling away like that." She then said, as they walked into the room. Anne first rang for Penny and then started to light some candles. "There. That is so much better." And then they sat down agian.
After Penny had come in and brought their beverages, Horatio continued his story. "Well, Archie recognised this man and he was securely put away. We were very busy with our ship that we almost forgot about the other ship. Also because we thought it had sank and there were no survivors. Which two days later turned out not to be the case. Two days later we were attacked. I was walking down below near the brig when I heard guns firing. At us. The prisoners were very upset about it but then when they knew it was one of their ships attacking they grew calmer, more determined for revenge." Horatio took a sip of his coffee. Good coffee. He tried to look pleased but then his thoughts interfered.
### "Hey young snotty. So you made it captain eh? A poor captain are you to get yourself in so much trouble. Do you hear those guns? I know what they are and how many. Enough to pulverise this bloody frigate. Now let me out. I want to die killing you!" ###
He shook his head as to wipe away the voice he heard. He went on "We fired back at them. That man had not been lying. *For once*. There were now three ships, surrounding us. Including the unidentified ship that now had raised the French colours. It was a terrible fight, and we were in a bad position, until two more of our ships arrived."
### "Mr. Kennedy, those guns. Powder monkeys! Here, here, here, hurry!" and then he heard Archie shout "Fiyah!" There was a great thundering noise and a lot of smoke. But before it was cleared up there was another range of shots. "Fiyah!" it was shouted again, and again. Then the ships were too close to fire again. From this moment on it was a man to man battle. And this is when hell began. ###
In an attemp to stop his memories from running away with him, Horatio focused hard on the story he was telling. "Our ship was entered by the enemy, and they rushed over the ship. We fought. They fought. Pistols, cutlasses, everything was used. You cannot know of the chaos that is there during a battle. Some of the enemy tried to get down below to the prisoners. Our men first tried to stop them but it was no use. Not before we had our reinforcement troops from the other ships, who were quite busy fighting and keeping the enemy off themselves. Then we heard a loud roar and the people that had been locked away came rushing up on deck." He couldn't help himself. His mind was busy to make him remember *exactly* what happened...
### "Have you missed me Archie?" Horatio heard someone say behind him. He turned around to see who it was, but he already knew. "Of couse you have. You had no one to torment you. But here I am and most willing to do the job." ### The words were still in his head. He thought he had blocked them. And that he had blocked the sight of- Horatio rubbed his eyes and continued his account.
"This is when Archie, your husband died. That one prisoner took a cutlass from one of the bodies that lay on the deck and he ran toward Archie. He stabbed him eight times before any of us could stop him. By then it was too late. He of course was put away again when we had regained control over the ship. Archie had been brought to the infirmary but the doctor could not do a lot. Practically nothing." Horatio stopped talking. He didn't know really what to say next. Everything important had been said.
### "Horatio, you must tell Anne. I'm so sorry I can't even get home this time. Tell her that."Archie told him. "And give her the letters I wrote her. They are in my sea chest. You have always been my best friend. I can't ask anyone else. Please do this last thing for me." He spoke softly, his life slipping away from him, fast. ### The image of him, dying, was still very clear in Horatio's memory. With his eyes closed or open, it would not matter; the image was there. Archie was there. And always would stay there.
"Anne, eh, Archie asked me to give you these letters. I found them in his trunk, which I will have delivered here next week. I assume he didn't write more, I could only find these two. I didn't like the thought of them getting lost so I took the liberty of taking them out and handing them over to you personally. Here they are." He then pulled two sealed sheets of folded paper from his waistcoat and handed them to Anne.
"Thank you Horatio, you are most kind." She whispered her face pale. Then a bit louder, but with a lump in her troat she continued. "I somehow feel this is all my doing. I told him not to give up his career in the navy. I knew there was a certain chance that he would be hurt. We both knew that. But I told him to go back to sea..." Anne's voice quivered when she spoke. She was standing near the window now but it was already dark out and there was nothing to be seen that could distract her thoughts.
Horatio walked toward her and stood next to her. He then also pretended to look outside. "That is silly." He said. "Don't think of that. This would have happened one way or the other. Navy or no navy, if this man had somehow learned Archie or me to bestill alive he would have come after me, and after Archie." Horatio tried to comfort her.
"You know," she soflty spoke "Archie once promised me, that if it was in his power not to make me cry, he would try anything to prevent that to happen. I can not cry now that he isn't here anymore to protect me from that. I owe it to him to be strong. But God... how badly I would want to cry now..." she sighed.
"You can have my shoulder." Horatio spoke and turned her gently around so they faced each other. "He wouldn't want you not to cry because of him. There now... let it go." And he held her close, just this once. And she led her tears run, just this once. For Archie.
Horatio left very early the next morning. Before any of the household should wake up. No breakfast, and a steady walk to the next village in prospect. There he would take a carriage to Porthsmouth and he would be witness to the trial of the English deserter. He would most surely be executed. Horatio walked on. He was close to the end of the drive now. There he turned around for a last look at the house, to find out that he was wrong when he thought he was the only one awake at this hour. Behind one of the gallery windows stood Anne, watching him leave. She waved, then stepped back so he could no longer see her. At that moment it started to mizzle. Horatio put his coat more securely around him and walked on.
"You bastard! You made my life, and that of others, miserable when aboard the Justinian. Then again when you came aboard the Indifatigable." Horatio shouted. In front of him a man was chained to a wall. A dirty looking man, filthy trousers and with nothing but a ragged shirt on his shoulders. The long hair that once had been tucked away in a shabby que was now hanging loose. Dirty, greasy straw coloured hair.
"It was such a relief to think you were dead. Then you came back from hell and murdered Lt. Kennedy." Horatio's anger was raging through his blood. If only he could keep that feeling so he could shoot him. "I will shoot you this time, though you still are not worth the powder," Horatio took a deep breath and continued. "But then what are you..." he smirked. "You are dead." Horatio felt the bullet leave the pistol, and watched it enter the chest of one of his worst enemies. Simpson.
"You are the reason Kennedy's wife has no grave to turn to. You have robbed two little boys of their father. You are the reason I have lost the greatest friend one can have. You are dead, and so you should be!" He then turned around and walked away.
The end.

Free Web Hosting