Let the Waters Roar

Fiction By Edith // 7/28/2007

My two fictional heroes.

Captain Horatio Hornblower and Captain Jack Aubrey finally meet.

Chapter One
Admiralty Orders

It was a spring afternoon as Lieutenant William Bush stepped up on deck of the sloop H.M. Hotspur, as she rode in the sweet and reassuring waves. Her rigging was shrill and clear, and her bluff-bows every now and then raising a smother of foamy spray made the noises of the ship’s fabric as she pitched music of the sea. Mr. Bush loved that sound. He could hear the conglomeration in the noise of the crashing waves, as if the treble clefs were in the clear water and gleaming sun, and the base was in the grunting of Hotspur’s swinging effect and the sails movements. He halted in his steps to take a deep breath, and looked up into the sky to see the many clouds of charming white drifting in the majestic blue sky as the sun shone through among them, looking down upon the sea and its mistress. That’s what the Hotspur was. She was an exquisite ship-o-war, sailing in sheer confidence with nothing to fear. The day had been going quite well, with fair winds and soothing waves; Mr. Bush did not want to leave his position and resume his work. He would rather stand there for the rest of the evening taking in the sweet smell and the atmosphere, watching the crew, the men whose endless tasks it was to keep the ships material at highest competence, work and sweat in their shadows as the sun prepared to go down in only a few hours. But Mr. Bush knew his duty as first lieutenant, under the command of a most loyal, daring and resourceful captain of his, whom he would never fail to disappoint. Captain Horatio Hornblower.

Captain Horatio Hornblower, a young and tall, thin and gawky sort of figure with a dark-skinned complexion, a grin of accomplishment, and a fine face with his long black curls wrapped in a low ponytail. He stood on the steep deck at the wheel, hands folded behind his back and his legs spread apart to keep his balance with the Hotspur’s swaying actions. His uniform was straight and blue, neatly put on and placed upon him, with an epaulette on his left shoulder. His expression was deep in thought, and his eyes squinted in the sunlight. It was at those times that the crew knew not to disturb their Captain, save for the Captain’s lieutenant’s and, if absolutely necessary, his midshipmen. For something had stirred the Captain earlier on in the month, and still no one ever dared to ask him what was troubling him. Oh yes, plenty of them had taken guesses… but none of them actually asked. Perhaps the wind was too soft, or perhaps there was a feeling in the air that made Captain Hornblower uneasy. No one really knew for sure, but what they did know was to leave him be and give him space to think.
“Six bells, sir.” Said Mr. Bush as he halted by the Captain.
“Very well, Mr. Bush. Have the men replaced for the dogwatch.” Hornblower gave a hasty salute, nodded, and parted. Mr. Bush went back to his duties making certain all was in order. As for Captain Hornblower, he retired to his quarters in a most speedy manner. Apparently something important had been bothering him after all.
It was indeed a fine day to be skylarking on deck or to stand by the wheel and relax in the wind. There was something so fine about it, as if it could cure any lonely and down soul among the men. But Captain Hornblower had no time to relax. In fact, the world “relax” had no meaning in the past few weeks aboard the Hotspur again. It seemed as if all of Hornblower’s relaxation – or what seemed to be at first had turned into disasters, and now there was no time, for inside the locked chest in his cabin there was placed a package, and what one might like to guess, sealed orders. His hands trembled slightly as he reached with the key to open the brown chest by his cot. He felt it jiggle inside the keyhole, and it snapped open. He pulled out the package and placed it upon his cabin desk, cursing himself for being too weak to open it then and there. He reread the words written on the wrapper that he had read so many times before. It wrote:

Orders for Captain Horatio Hornblower, Esq., Master and Commander,
H.M. Sloop
Hotspur, officer, British Royal Navy. To be opened on the 17’Th of May, 1805, at sea.

Today was the day. It was May 17, 1805, and he had his orders. He took the knife-shaped letter opener at his right, and gently slid it through the sealed outline of the package. His heart beat wildly. His hands shook. Sweat trickled down his forehead. The package he was opening, the orders he was about to receive, would tell him of his fate or of his fortune. It held everything. Orders he had to follow, no matter what the price, even if it involved risking his ship and, above all, his crew. Then he gently slid out the folded letters and unfolded them. There was one letter he noted had familiar handwriting. But it was probably just a coincidence. Nevertheless, he opened that one first, as it was the first one in the stack, and inked upon the white paper he read:

To Captain Horatio Hornblower:
My dear friend, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I have been given the opportunity to be able to write to you on this matter. I hear you have been given orders to pass south of Gibraltar, and the Rock, to Cape Horn. Why you have been given orders to do so? I leave that for the orders themselves to explicate. But whatever your orders are, I know that in this present war and confusion, bloodshed and battle Bonaparte has arrived at and given, a safe journey be always with you. You are competent enough I think. I formed that opinion ever since you were a young midshipman to a grown-looking Lieutenant, and it is still so. Safe voyage, as always.
Your sincere and obedient friend,
Sir Edward Pellew, H.M.S.
Indefatigable

That was a gratifying letter, thought Hornblower, and he reddened at the cheeks at the thought of how kind Admiral Pellew had always been to him. It was most kind of him to write him a short letter like that. He wondered how his friend Pellew was doing in the world... But now it was time to get back to business. It was time to open the next envelope in the stack, the one titled in bold and fancy ink. These were the orders, which held the entire voyage in the future before him. He opened them, this time more sure of himself. He was a commander now. He mustn’t forget.
He read them… and reread them… His eyes narrowed. Those were his orders. And he would follow them if be to his death.

ADMIRALTY ORDERS
To Capt. H. Hornblower
‘Intercept French Privateer ACHERON en route to Pacific – CAPTURE, SINK, or BURN.

Comments

Nice!

I like this work of yours!
My question is, is there a sequel to
this story, and if there is, what is it titled?
Sarah

Sarah | Sun, 09/30/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

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