A Letter from Hell - Drew Brandon's reply
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
have wondered about you, wondered what made you tick, wondered
you to your evil. They wondered how Mr. Kennedy survived and Mr.
Hornblower stood up to you. And after they wonder about you, they
themselves a little shake and put you out of their mind, because
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
you, I know you, oh, far too well.
Forgive me for not introducing myself properly, not that propriety
ever meant a damn to you. I am Midshipman Andrew Brandon, currently
serving as ship's doctor on the Indefatigable. I am just fifteen
old, and an old friend of yours once told me that he thought you'd
me. How is Hepplewhite? Or has he not made it there yet? Don't
Sir; he will!
You asked about Mr. Hornblower. I could tell you that he is well
well respected, honored and admired, even by some of our enemies.
could tell you that, far from having low esteem for Mr. Hornblower,
Captain Pellew now looks at Horatio as a surrogate son, and envisions
far reaching future for him. I could tell you that the men of
division who you taught cruelty and despair are now amongst the
regarded men on Indefatigable, thanks to his work. But I have
sneaking suspicion that none of this would bother you. Horatio
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
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
homesick twelve-year old boy is so pathetic that I could almost
I had not known what it is like to be on Mr. Kennedy's end of
equation. You have been waiting for him, I understand. Your wait,
will be eternal.
For Mr. Kennedy lives. He was found in that jolly boat you condemned
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
He wanted to live, and live freely, and he fought for that freedom,
he was no longer a helpless twelve year old in the midshipman's
At one point, though, he almost did succumb to despair. Guess
sent to him to give him the strength to keep fighting? Yes, it
Horatio, thanks to a think fog that proved to be a blessing in
God does really work in mysterious ways.
And so they both of them made it back here, and have continued
Archie just recently passing his Lieutenant's exam. In fact, Archie
not put his past behind him so much as he put it to good use,
my life from my own particular torments, for he could recognize
and felt compelled to assist me.
But wait, Sir; you laugh. You think over your decrepit torments
Archie and know that even if he lives, you must have destroyed
inside. Surely no normalcy could ever ensue for a child so violated
you violated him. No, you think, no wife, no children, no home
LOVE could ever be his. Except, as it happens, he is to marry
And yes, he told her about you. (Knowing Alicia as I do, and how
she loves Archie, you should be glad that Pellew felled you with
shot!) He can speak your name without pain, without bringing on
those fits you tormented him about. He now only scorns you, which
about as much attention as you deserve.
You may think I am naive, Sir. The truth is, you are. You
were the worst man, the most evil, the most cruel, an important
cutting a swath of destruction in the hearts of men. Really, you
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
be with us. You are not special. But every Jack Simpson will have
Horatio Hornblower; every Lord Exton will have an Archie Kennedy.
every Horatio and Archie will have a Captain Pellew to lead them
You, Sir, cannot win; because you never have been more than a
I hope you are angry in the futility of this. But I doubt if you
capable of seeing the truth in any of it. Now do leave us all
have enough real problems in this life to worry about the likes
You really are not worth the powder.
Oh, and when you do see Hepplewhite, do me a favor? Tell him the
whelp" who assisted him in his Surgery has lost but two lives
operating table since he left us (none to putrid fever), and only
limbs, to boot. Tell him the surgery is clean, the men are healthy,
the spirits are high.
And tell him I still have no taste for Gin!