To Horatio Hornblower, Captain of the Hotspur
My dear Horry,
Mother and I saw your latest report in the Gazette today. We are of course incredibly proud of you, even if you don’t want to hear it. I think it is a fine report, though Mother says it is a great deal too short and that you must have left a good bit out. Perhaps you did. Perhaps you do in your letters to your wife as well.
I am a teacher, Horry. I can edit too.
I tell you in every letter that I think of you, that I pray for your safe return, that I miss you, which is all true. But I do not tell you why. I cannot understand your life on your ship but you going away on your ship with your crew cannot understand being left behind. I will tell you, husband—it is lonely. Mother s no company. She drinks far too much and complains of your neglect until I cannot bear it. ‘What use is it, you being a captain’s wife, with no prize money and no father for your son,’ she says. And you mustn’t think I mind about the money, we’re comfortable enough, but little Horatio—for him not to know his father—
I cannot finish that thought. I knew half a page ago I could never send this letter. With your life so full of risk and danger, I would be an uncharitable wife to write to you only of my discontent. Le this be sealed and forgotten then, with all the others, and I shall begin again.
Your loving wife,
My darling Maria,
I cannot tell you what pleasures your letters bring me. I am of course delighted to hear that you and our son are doing so well. I hope our mother has recovered satisfactorily from her most recent ailment. As the days grow short and bitter at sea it warms me to think of you all by the fire, safe and comfortable together.
The blockade of Brest is interminable—each day like the rest, and I long to be home with you for Christmas, but I do not think that will be the case, as the French seem to plan new devilment daily.
Mr. Bush sends his [blot] and also to little [blot]
[reverse bears scribbled trigonometric calculations]