A Letter from Hell - Drew Brandon's reply
by Jean

So you are Simpson.

I have thought often about you. I am not the only man on board
Indefatigable to whom you are known only by reputation. Many of them
have wondered about you, wondered what made you tick, wondered what drove
you to your evil. They wondered how Mr. Kennedy survived and Mr.
Hornblower stood up to you. And after they wonder about you, they give
themselves a little shake and put you out of their mind, because it is
really not a very nice thing to think about for very long.

I do not wonder about you, Sir. I do not need to. Though I never met
you, I know you, oh, far too well.

Forgive me for not introducing myself properly, not that propriety has
ever meant a damn to you. I am Midshipman Andrew Brandon, currently
serving as ship's doctor on the Indefatigable. I am just fifteen years
old, and an old friend of yours once told me that he thought you'd fancy
me. How is Hepplewhite? Or has he not made it there yet? Don't worry,
Sir; he will!

You asked about Mr. Hornblower. I could tell you that he is well liked,
well respected, honored and admired, even by some of our enemies. I
could tell you that, far from having low esteem for Mr. Hornblower,
Captain Pellew now looks at Horatio as a surrogate son, and envisions a
far reaching future for him. I could tell you that the men of your
division who you taught cruelty and despair are now amongst the highest
regarded men on Indefatigable, thanks to his work. But I have the
sneaking suspicion that none of this would bother you. Horatio has
always been your failure; you recognized it, sure enough, and that is why
you had to try over and over again to kill him, in your cowardly fashion.
As you realized, he takes a lot of killing, Sir.

Ah, but then there is Mr. Kennedy. Whom I have no doubt you consider
your brightest success. That you can be PROUD over the destruction of a
homesick twelve-year old boy is so pathetic that I could almost laugh, if
I had not known what it is like to be on Mr. Kennedy's end of the
equation. You have been waiting for him, I understand. Your wait, Sir,
will be eternal.

For Mr. Kennedy lives. He was found in that jolly boat you condemned him
to, and brought to prison. He tried several separate escape attempts.
Perhaps it is me, but that despite everything you had done to him he kept
on trying says that you hadn't quite been as successful as you thought.
He wanted to live, and live freely, and he fought for that freedom, for
he was no longer a helpless twelve year old in the midshipman's berth.
At one point, though, he almost did succumb to despair. Guess who God
sent to him to give him the strength to keep fighting? Yes, it was
Horatio, thanks to a think fog that proved to be a blessing in disguise.
God does really work in mysterious ways.

And so they both of them made it back here, and have continued to thrive,
Archie just recently passing his Lieutenant's exam. In fact, Archie did
not put his past behind him so much as he put it to good use, in saving
my life from my own particular torments, for he could recognize my pain
and felt compelled to assist me.

But wait, Sir; you laugh. You think over your decrepit torments of
Archie and know that even if he lives, you must have destroyed him
inside. Surely no normalcy could ever ensue for a child so violated as
you violated him. No, you think, no wife, no children, no home life, no
LOVE could ever be his. Except, as it happens, he is to marry my sister.
And yes, he told her about you. (Knowing Alicia as I do, and how deeply
she loves Archie, you should be glad that Pellew felled you with that
shot!) He can speak your name without pain, without bringing on one of
those fits you tormented him about. He now only scorns you, which is
about as much attention as you deserve.

You may think I am naive, Sir. The truth is, you are. You believed you
were the worst man, the most evil, the most cruel, an important personage
cutting a swath of destruction in the hearts of men. Really, you and men
like you (like my father) who enjoy the suffering of others are a dime a
dozen. Evil has existed before Jack Simpson; evil will exist afterwards,
and men who are weak enough to lose themselves to its luster will always
be with us. You are not special. But every Jack Simpson will have a
Horatio Hornblower; every Lord Exton will have an Archie Kennedy. And
every Horatio and Archie will have a Captain Pellew to lead them on.
You, Sir, cannot win; because you never have been more than a pawn in
this game.

I hope you are angry in the futility of this. But I doubt if you are
capable of seeing the truth in any of it. Now do leave us all alone; we
have enough real problems in this life to worry about the likes of you.
You really are not worth the powder.

Oh, and when you do see Hepplewhite, do me a favor? Tell him the "sorry
whelp" who assisted him in his Surgery has lost but two lives on the
operating table since he left us (none to putrid fever), and only two
limbs, to boot. Tell him the surgery is clean, the men are healthy, and
the spirits are high.

And tell him I still have no taste for Gin!

Yours truly,

Drew Brandon.
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