A Test of Faith
Horatio Hornblower had been having a good day. The men were
their duties and both sea and sky were clear. The wind was veering nicely
to their advantage and Hornblower could not have asked for a more pleasant
"A fair wind for England, Sir, Bush said, breaking into
"Hmm... said Hornblower, shaking his head. He felt in
no mood for talking
but just enjoying his happiness.
"This has the markings of a very good day, Bush commented.
From the short answer, Bush knew Hornblower was in no conversing mood.
"Sir, will you allow me to exercise the men?
"Indeed, Mr. Bush.
Hornblower knew that Bush took great joy in running out the guns , furling
and unfurling the sails and in all the general movement that went on while
exercises and could not deny him of this pleasure.
Hornblower oversaw the exercises and noticed a young midshipman
by the name
of Gunthrie idly staring off into the deep sea.
"Mr. Gunthrie! Hornblower called out "Stop wandering
off and keep a mind to
"Storms a-brewin,, Sir. No worry though, with faith in
God there is peace
amist the storm. Gunthrie replied.
Hornblower unsure of what to make of it, sternly said, "Mr.
have already begun to lose mind. We have a fair wind and a calm sea. Yet
we will keep a lookout nonetheless, you merely tend to your duties.
Hornblower received the standard reply of "Aye aye, Sir
returned to the exercises. Yet several minutes later Gunthrie,s warning
proved to be correct for out of nowhere dark clouds appeared and the sea
The gray clouds overtook the blue sky and spread across like
a wildfire to a
forest and consumed the Renown with its darkness.
The sea that had minutes before been clear and calm now became
choppy. A sudden wave of nausea overtook Hornblower who had grown
accustomed to both the land and the calm sea. Suddenly, giving Hornblower
very little time to think, a wave hit the Renown and sent her unto her
All of this had happened in a matter of seconds and so when
the wave hit,
nothing had been tied down. Cannons, carriages and all went rambling over
the deck. Men who were not alert or careless had limbs removed from their
bodies. Blood and screams now littered the deck.
"Mr. Bush! Order the men to get those things secure before
any more lose
Hornblower had yelled his loudest but Bush had to move in much
he was finally able to understand him clearly.
"Aye aye, Sir!
It took several men to put a stop to each cannon, Bush included
and after a
time all was finally secure and the wounded had been taken below.
The wind now began to increase even more and Hornblower realized
were carrying too much sail. Once he had the problem righted he began to
hear a voice. He searched the deck and saw Gunthrie from the quarterdeck
yelling out and pointing off towards the sea. Straining his ears Hornblower
heard the man,s ramblings.
"Jesus! Jesus is out in the water! He wants me to go
to him! Jesus!
Convinced, Gunthrie climbed up unto the railing and jumped into the sea.
"Man overboard! came the cry from above.
The man was insane! Hornblower gathering up his courage and
his urge to vomit, jumped into the sea after him.
The sea was hungry but Hornblower was determined not to lose
a man to it.
Swimming out towards him Hornblower could still hear him muttering words
about having faith in Jesus. Finally, hornblower was able to grab hold of
Gunthrie and swam with some difficulty back to the Renown, where Bush had a
line thrown out for them.
Once back on board, another huge wave smashed into the ship
men falling forward.
"Bloody sea just will not give up! Bush said once all
had regained their
footing. The comment called for a nervous giggle and a pat on Bush,s back.
Then, suddenly, a snap went off behind Bush and a cannon came charging
toward him at a great speed. Bush was unable to move clear before the
cannon and all its weight ran into him, knocking him over. Hornblower
quickly ordered men to grab the cannon and tie it down properly this time.
A quick look over Bush showed that his right leg was badly cut and bleeding.
After Hornblower called for the doctor, Bush was carried down below to be
stitched up. Hornblower would have to remember to deal with the incompetent
sailor who did not properly secure the cannon the first time.
Gunthrie was now anxiously tapping Hornblower on the shoulder
"What is it, Gunthrie?! Hornblower asked snappishly.
He had little time to
deal with maniacs while the ship was in the middle of a large storm.
"PRAY?! The request seemed outrageous and right now the
Hornblower could pray for was patience.
"Yes, sir. For Jesus once was caught in a storm and he
ordered the seas to
be calm and calm they became.
"Just have faith, Sir. Faith the size of a mustard seed
is all that is
needed. And the seas will calm. You watch.
Hornblower could not bear to hear another word and marched
off below to his
cabin. Once there he laid down on his cot and slowly his eyelids became
heavier until sleep was just about to over take him when he was jolted awake
with a call of "Land off the port bow! He rushed up to see what land it
was, for surely it could not be England. England was still a good ways off.
Much to his dismay he was greeted with a vague view of what he could only
make out to be Ushant. He was about to call out the orders that would steer
the ship clear of the island when the wind blew like he has never seen
before. It lashed out at his face and he had to grab hold of the netting
that was luckily nearby but the sails were not so lucky. The wind tore
them to shreds. They were now in pieces and no way to control the ship from
staying clear of land. They would run aground if Hornblower didn,t do
something quick. He tried to heave to but the anchor was not gripping and
the strong wind was still pushing them towards disaster. All Hornblower
could do was pray.
He closed his eyes and whispered a small and sincere prayer
for his ship and his men. Seconds after he opened his eyes, the wind
stopped suddenly, the sea,s fits ended and the sun shone out from behind the
disappearing clouds. The suddenness of all this caused all to stop,
dumfounded. The sails hung limply on their masts and the ship stopped its
tilting. They had been saved.
"Sir, said Gunthrie running up to him, "You prayed, sir?
Hornblower did not answer.
"I told you all you needed was faith, Sir. The Lord, he does the rest.