DISCLAIMER: These characters are the property of A&E/Meridian Television and
the C.S. Forester Estate. No copyright infringement intended; no profit to be had.
Captain Horatio Hornblower set sail on his new ship, the Retribution, with a heavy heart. Although he was greatly pleased to have a ship of his own and to number among his lieutenants his good friend Mr. Bush and among his crew such stalwarts as Styles and Matthews, his heart ached for his good friend Archie. The night watches were very empty without his knowing grin and goodhearted teasing, and the night off-watches alone in his cabin even emptier.
One afternoon, he and Bush leaned together on the railing, each lost in thought. "I see that you still miss Mr. Kennedy," Lt. Bush observed sympathetically.
"Yes indeed. More than you could know," responded our Horatio.
"The Frogs have been quiet these past weeks," Lt. Bush said. "Perhaps we should sail ourselves somewhere quiet for a time, where we can have a break. Somewhere warm and tropical."
Horatio was silent as he recalled a time recently where he and Archie had promised each other that they would sail to a tropical island, where they would eat coconuts and write stories and have no responsibilities.*
"Yes!" cried Captain Hornblower suddenly. "We shall indeed!"
So they set sail for the secret tropical island. The Retribution anchored in the bay and the Captain and Lt. Bush rowed in alone. "This is the place," Horatio said. "I wish he was here."
Hornblower and Bush had an entertaining afternoon attempting to catch a wild pig for dinner. Bush bent his rapier quite severely attempting to stab a charging boar until finally Horatio had the good sense to shoot it with his pistols. They built a fire and cooked the boar. Then they set up their tent and slept. During the night, Horatio was awakened by a loud rustling in the treetops above, which he assumed to be the work of a parrot, as there were many brightly-coloured birds on the island.
The next morning, the Captain and his Lieutenant continued to explore the island. They hoped to come across pirate treasure. Horatio was walking under a tree when suddenly something large and heavy dropped on him from above. He assumed his assailant to be a jaguar, or some similar ferocious beast and shouted for Bush to shoot the creature. But no shots rang out, and as Horatio struggled to turn and face his attacker, he suddenly found himself looking into a very familiar pair of eyes, wearing a very familiar amused expression.
"By God!" he shouted. "Archie?!"
It was indeed Archie, and he was not a ghost, judging by the pressure Horatio felt in his chest due to his recently-deceased friend's sitting on it.
"It's about time you turned up," said Archie.
Mr. Bush, who was behind Archie, was struggling to speak. "Mr. Kennedy," he managed at last, "correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to be wearing a rather large pair of wings on your back..."
"Oh yes," said Archie, unperturbed. "I'm an angel now. Or rather I was, until they kicked me out for giving cheek." Horatio was now lost for words. "Well, I did a noble thing, didn't I?" Archie explained. "Taking the blame for that damned Captain Sawyer's not realizing there was a hole behind him. Saving the British Navy's most heroic officer from a hanging. I deserved some recognition, I thought, especially since I had to die as a criminal. Those decent chaps up in Heaven said I deserved a reward. So here I am, solid again, only now I can fly too. I knew you'd come to this island eventually. We promised each other."
Horatio grabbed Archie, squashing his wings somewhat in the process, and thanked everyone he could think of and cried and laughed at the same time. Mr. Bush pushed him into the sea and told him that he was never to die again without his, Bush's, permission.
As they sailed back to the Retribution, armed with coconuts and fresh water and tropical fruits for the crew, Horatio said to Archie, "Now, Mr. Kennedy, shall we resume the voyage we were on before your death so rudely interrupted us?"
Archie gave him that fit-to-swoon-one-clear-out-of-the-rigging look. "Yes indeed, Horatio," he said. "Yes, indeed."
I hope he will come alive again soon. I'm certainsure 'twill happen, Horatio refers his good friend Archie to the Above with a triumphant grin.
- penned by Captain Horatio Hornblower of His Majesty's Frigate Retribution
*The part asterisked refers to a previous and private conversation
between Horatio and Lt. Kennedy. Archie was distracted by a
Certain Gentleman, and Horatio was encouraging him to forget the cad.
(c) 2001 by Merryn