Work Header

Aiming True

Work Text:

Horatio Hornblower was not a man given to self-praise. If one were to make a list of words describing him, he would vehemently disagree with most of them. Where they would use words like “intelligent” or “talented”, he was more likely to say he was “weak” or “cowardly”. There was, however, one word that would overlap in the list; “determined”. Upon being given a task, Horatio would throw himself into completing it, going through papers or barking out orders until he felt that the job was done. Although he might berate himself if he failed, he could at least console himself that he had not wavered in his attempt.

The current task facing him seemed simple enough. Captain Pellew believed that the cannon fire from the Indefatigable had been unsatisfactory of late, and had requested that all the lieutenants run the men through cannon drills. It had quickly become apparent that Horatio was getting the best results, and at Pellew’s personal request, he was drawing up a plan to keep the men in top form. Drills, cannon cleanings to keep the men familiar with the parts, and various firing angles flitted through Horatio’s head at all hours of the day. He felt honor bound to make sure all the men were at their best, and wouldn’t feel that his task had been accomplished until their next successful encounter with the enemy.

With the combination of cold weather, regular practices, and restless nights trying to get it all sorted out, Horatio wasn’t overly surprised when he started to feel run-down. Nor was he surprised when he developed a cough. These things were part of ship life, and barring complete collapse or an inability to focus, there was no need to see the doctor about it. He would just keep his attention on the task at hand and allow himself to rest once he felt it had been completed.

Two weeks after taking on cannon management, the Indy still hadn’t seen action. The men were getting restless, and Horatio couldn’t blame them. He wanted a victory as much as they did, the unquestionable proof that his tactics had worked. As it was, he sighed and made sure there were three cannon drills scheduled for the day.

The first drill included men of his own division. Matthews gave Horatio a nod as he took up his position. “We’ll get the targets this time, Mr. Hornblower. Nine out of ten or better, you wait and see.”

“Very good, Matthews.” Horatio rasped, smiling slightly. His cough had become worse of late, and he had taken to speaking quietly and infrequently so as to conserve his voice for the drills.

Matthews looked him over, concerned. “Are you all right, sir? You look a bit peaky, begging your pardon.”

Horatio nodded. “I’m fine, Matthews. Focus on the guns, if you please.” Matthews glanced at him again, but obediently turned to the cannons. Horatio tugged his coat a little closer around his shoulders and sipped from the cup of water he’d brought down. The truth was, he felt cold and sluggish, with a slight headache and a small but insistent itch in the back of his nose. He rubbed at it idly and looked down the gunline, smiling again at how quickly the men cleared for action. His efforts were paying off—with a little luck, he’d be allowed to rest soon enough. Clearing his throat, he called out loudly enough for all to hear. “Is everything secured and ready?”

“Aye, sir!” came the reply.

Horatio nodded and paused for a quick cough. “Good. Now…fire when ready!”

He clicked his stopwatch as soon as he saw the first fuse lit, then took advantage of the noise to cough again, the sound audibly wet. Horatio winced and straightened up, taking another sip of water. The final cannon sounded, and he clicked the watch again. “Well done!” he said, genuine pleasure in his voice, “Ten seconds shorter than last time. And the targets?”

“All hit, sir!” came the response, “Two glancing blows, but the rest were direct hits.”

“Excellent,” Horatio said, unconsciously rubbing his throat to keep his voice going, “I will tell the captain that your actions were exemplary. I should be able to convince him to give you an extra ration of spirits tonight.”

A happy murmur ran down the line. “To the starboard side,” Horatio said, “And if you’re as successful there, we can conclude the drill early.”

There was no question that the men had improved. There were no breaks in the loading process and only a few seconds between aiming and firing. They missed one target, but made up for it by hitting the other nine targets exactly dead center. Horatio felt a thrill of pride in the group. He nodded warmly. “Fine work from all of you. I’m sure the captain will feel the same way. Give the cannons a cleaning, and then consider yourself dismissed.”

There were noises of assent, and Horatio left them in the hands of Midshipman Vell and went above deck to begin his afternoon watch. If he was lucky, he’d have time to do a little reading in his cabin before the second drill.

His watch passed uneventfully, except for the increasingly persistent cough and a worsening of his headache. It would pass, he assured himself, especially if he managed to get a proper sleep that night. For now, he rubbed his temples and focused on his duties.

At the end of his watch, he went below, having only five minutes until the next drill. He was pleasantly surprised when Archie materialized a minute later. “You’re early.” he said, giving his friend a smile.

“So are you,” Archie pointed out, his smile warm but a little concerned, “How are you feeling, Horatio?”

Horatio turned away on the pretense of looking over the gunpowder stores so Archie wouldn’t see him roll his eyes. Archie had been pestering him about getting a proper rest for ages, and since the two men shared a room, it was hard to dodge the issue. Still, he had made it clear that he wasn’t about to slow down. Not that that stopped Archie; he didn’t insist anymore, but his pointed questions and slight frowns amounted to the same thing. Horatio shook his head, cleared his throat, and replied with “I’m fine, Mr. Kennedy. I’ll be better still if the second drill goes as well as the first. Did you hear that they barely missed a shot?”

 He thought he heard a hint of a sigh as Archie answered “I did indeed. You should be congratulated, Horatio.”

 “It’s the men’s doing more than anything. But thank you.”

Turning back to face Archie, he saw the familiar grin. “The men will hoist you on their shoulders once we’ve thumped the next French ship we see. They’ll be drinking toasts to you all night.”

Horatio flushed. “Hardly. If anything, they’ll be celebrating an end to the drills.”

Archie just shrugged, but his smile said something different. Hearing the sound of footsteps, Horatio turned towards the stairs and made a mental roll call of the men coming in for the drill.

When everyone was assembled, Horatio cleared his throat again. “There’s been a marked improvement in your firing in the past weeks. I believe you can surpass your previous record, like the men this morning. I have faith in you. Begin loading the guns, if you please.”

Archie moved to the far end to supervise the loading. As Horatio watched him go, a voice from behind him nearly made him leap into the air in shock. “I have faith as well, Mr. Hornblower. Your methods are sound, after all.”

Hornblower turned around and met Captain Pellew’s amused gaze. “S-sir!” he stuttered, springing to attention, “I had no idea you intended to supervise this latest drill!”

“That’s because the thought had only just occurred to me. The reports I’ve received on the men’s progress has been impressive, and I thought it was high time I took a look for myself. So far, it seems that you have the situation well in hand.”

 Flustered, Horatio tried to clear his throat, but it came out as a cough instead. He straightened up and started to bark out orders, wincing internally at how wavery his voice sounded. “Is everything ready?”

“Ready!” came Archie’s reply.

Despite being very aware of the Captain’s presence over his shoulder, Horatio couldn’t help but smile in satisfaction. Yes, the men had taken the training to heart, even if they grumbled about it below decks. Drawing out his stopwatch, he commanded “Fire down the line!”

The guns went off at once. Horatio watched as the men scrambled to reload the gun after the shot. A bit clumsy, to be sure, but they were getting the job done. Once reloaded, it only took a second or two to line up the shot before firing again. Horatio nodded; they were putting on an excellent demonstration for the Captain.

Once all the cannons were silenced, he checked the stopwatch. “Two seconds under your previous time. A fine start. We’ll have to see if we can do better on the starboard side. The targets?”

Archie’s voice floated back to him. “Two misses, one grazing, four direct hits, the rest fine shots.”

It wasn’t as good as Horatio had been hoping for, but at least most of the shots had hit. “All right,” he said, rubbing his throat, “That performance was satisfactory. Clean the cannons and move along to the starboard side.”

As the men set to work, Horatio turned to Captain Pellew. “I hope this meets with your approval, sir.”

Pellew gave a curt nod. “It’s certainly quite an improvement over the last battle. We should be more than prepared for the next enemy we face. I am a little concerned about one thing, however.”

“Oh?” Horatio swallowed and straightened up a little more, “What is it? I’ll try to incorporate it into the next set of drills.”

“It’s you, Mr. Hornblower.”

“P-pardon, sir?” Horatio gasped, panic grabbing hold of him like a vise.

“Don’t look so stricken,” Pellew said, voice gruff but not angry, “I merely meant that you look ready to collapse. How long have you been working at this problem, Mr. Hornblower?”

“T-two weeks, sir,” Horatio said, “I wanted to make sure we were prepared for battle.”

“I appreciate your efforts, Mr. Hornblower,” Pellew replied with a hint of a smile, “But you’ve been running yourself ragged. A good night’s rest is what’s really needed. I suggest you take yourself off to bed early tonight.”

“Yes, sir,” Horatio said quietly, knowing that it wasn’t actually a suggestion, “I’ll return to my cabin after the last set of drills.”

Pellew gave a slight nod. “Good. Now, let’s see about the starboard side.”

Horatio was barely aware of what happened during the drill, though he still gave orders and clicked the stopwatch. The fact that the Captain had noticed his weakened condition had left him deeply embarrassed. Was there something he could have done differently to keep his exhaustion and coughing at bay? Of all the people who should never see him weak, Pellew was near the top of the list.

He was so preoccupied with this that it took him a second to register that the cannons had stopped. He quickly looked at the stopwatch. “Five seconds under,” he said, “Well done. Targets?”

“Sixteen hits, three grazings, and one miss. Nine direct hits.”

“A fine showing,” Horatio said, “Finish cleaning the guns and return to your normal stations.”

He turned away and started up the stairs, hoping Archie could distract the Captain long enough to keep him from commenting on Horatio’s condition again. But as he reached the fifth step, he coughed again, and as he took a breath, he caught the acrid, burning scent of gunpowder and smoke. It was too much for his nose, the little itch now coming to the fore and demanding something be done about it. And Horatio was powerless to resist; he had just enough time to plant his feet on the steps before he snapped forward. “Eh-SHIEW!!

The next thing he was aware of was a bolt of pain across his temple. He put a hand to his head and winced. “Mr. Hornblower!” Pellew exclaimed, concerned, “Are you all right?”

“I think so, sir,” Horatio answered, swaying a little—the blow had knocked him a bit dizzy—“I just cracked my head on the beam, that’s all.”

“Take yourself to the doctor to get it looked at,” Pellew said, “It wouldn’t do if you gave yourself a concussion.”

“No, sir,” Horatio agreed, “I’ll go at once.”

All the way to the infirmary, he cursed himself for injuring himself in front of his Captain. Perhaps it was beyond his control, but he still felt he could have done something about it. If only the sneeze had struck a few seconds later…

Doctor Cornell looked up as Horatio entered the infirmary. “Well, this is a surprise. What brings you here, Mr. Hornblower?”

 “I knocked my head against a beam,” Horatio said quietly, feeling himself turning red at the admission, “The Captain suggested I make sure there was no serious damage.”

“Let’s have a look.” Cornell said, waving Horatio onto a bench. He looked over the injured spot critically for a moment. “Superficially, it doesn’t seem too bad. A nasty welt, yes, but nothing to keep you off-balance. Let’s just…”

He put his hand on the injured spot, only to jerk it back, eyes wide in amazement. “Good God, man, why didn’t you come to me sooner?”

“It only just happened…” Horatio protested.

“Not that,” Cornell said impatiently, “You have a fever, and…” he put two fingers to Horatio’s throat, “My my, those are impressively swollen. Mr. Hornblower, you seem to have got yourself one hell of a cold. I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t transformed into a case of pneumonia. How long have you been feeling poorly, and don’t you dare lie to me.”

“A week, maybe more,” Horatio said, unable to look the man in the eyes.

Cornell made a disapproving noise. “I admire your devotion to duty, but there is a limit. I’m relieving you of all responsibilities until you’ve got this illness under control.”

“But…!” Horatio was horrified, “I have drills to supervise! The men need to be prepared!”

 “I am the ship’s doctor, Mr. Hornblower, and as such, I have the authority to relieve officers of command if I feel it is necessary. I am exerting that authority now, and I will be reporting as such to Captain Pellew to make sure that my orders are enforced. Now take yourself off to bed before this cold gets any worse.”

Horatio knew there was no way out of it. “Yes, Doctor.” he said meekly, sliding off the bench. He made his way back to his quarters, avoiding eye contact with the men, convinced that news of his illness had already started spreading. Once the door was safely closed behind him, he removed his coat and boots and climbed into his hammock, pulling the blankets around him. He would get some rest, as promised, but perhaps when he awoke he could find some sort of compromise. He could supervise the final drill without giving orders, writing down suggested changes instead. Or he could get out of bed every few hours to check on the men’s progress. Or possibly…

 He was still trying to come up with workarounds when he fell asleep.


“Horatio?” A hand was on his shoulder. “Are you awake?”

Horatio’s eyes fluttered open blearily. “Yes.” he croaked, snapping to full alertness as he realized just how bad his voice sounded. The rasp in his voice had become much more pronounced, and based on the thick feeling in his nose and throat, no amount of throat-clearing would remove it this time. He still remembered his determination to continue his work, however, and so he coughed pitifully and asked “What time is it?”

“A little before six bells,” Archie answered, “I just got off my watch and wanted to look in on you. How are you feeling?”

Horatio decided on a half-truth. “Tired,” he responded, “But I’m not as bad off as the doctor seems to think. I can still supervise the cannon drill if nothing else.”

Archie shook his head. “You’re staying in this cabin, Horatio. Doctor and Captain’s orders.”

Horatio sat up, trying to protest. Or at least, he tried to sit up. Actually attempting to do so left his head spinning and his body shaking as chills ran down his back. He fell back onto the hammock with a groan. Archie’s voice was sympathetic, albeit tinged with amusement. “You see? Even your own body knows you need to rest. Just lie still, Horatio. I’ll get you what you need.”

“The drills…” Horatio said feebly.

Archie squeezed his shoulder. “They’ll be taken care of, Horatio. The captain put me in charge of them, with express orders that I keep you informed of the men’s progress. His orders for you, meanwhile, are to devote your energies to recovering. So please, Horatio, for the sake of everybody, stay in bed.”

Horatio’s response was a coughing fit, starting deep in his chest and leaving him sore and breathless when it finally abated. Archie pulled a blanket from his own hammock and carefully draped it over Horatio. “I’ll see if I can bring you some water and a cup of tea for your throat,” he said gently, touching Horatio’s forehead to check the fever, “Are you hungry?”

“Not particularly.” Horatio admitted.

Archie nodded. “You should probably have some broth at the very least, but that can wait until after this evening’s drills.”

He turned for the door, then stopped, considering. Taking a detour to Horatio’s seachest, he carefully extracted a few handkerchiefs and brought them to the hammock. “Just in case.” he said with a slight smile. Then he gave a half-salute and left the room.

As soon as the door had closed, Horatio groaned again and buried himself under the blankets. If he was honest with himself, he felt utterly wretched. The knowledge that he had no duties to attend to was oddly comforting, even as he lamented his inability to watch over the gun drills. In the back of his mind, there was a nagging fear that Pellew was disappointed in him, but the complaints his body was making took precedent at the moment.

Such as the itch that rematerialized in his nose. It seemed pointless to hold it back, especially since everyone knew about his illness at this point. Carefully picking up one of the handkerchiefs, he held it to his face, waiting for the inevitable. His breath caught once, twice, and then…


He blinked, nose still in the handkerchief. His sneezes normally weren’t that drawn out. If he bothered to characterize them, he would have called them “quick and decisive”, a harsh, sharp sound that was over in a few seconds. Then his nose itched again and his mind shifted focus. “KERSSSHHHH!

Horatio realized that his shoulders were rising and tightening involuntarily as he sneezed, as if bracing for an impact. He rubbed at his nose weakly, only to realize that he was far from finished. Apparently, now that his body knew it was safe to rest, it was making its displeasure known for being so ill-treated. Horatio winced and prepared himself for the worst.

Each sneeze was like a wave, building up slowly before coming out with a messy, strangled sound. He only had a moment or two to catch his breath before another itch appeared. He just closed his eyes against the onslaught and hoped it would end soon. “Heh…eh…HA-ESSHHEEW!

“Bless you,” Archie’s voice said from somewhere nearby, “That sounds…painful.”

Horatio sniffed, feeling heat rising to his cheeks, and rubbed at his nose, trying to get the sneezes to stop. “It c-could be worse.”

“Only if your nose was bleeding,” Archie answered dryly, “Up for something to drink?”

Horatio held up a hand for him to wait. “Eh…ahh…AH-KSSSHHHEEEW!” After making a positively disgusting noise into the handkerchief, he tentatively lowered the cloth. “I believe some water would be beneficial. The steam from the tea, on the other hand, could set me off again.”

Archie handed him a cup. Horatio took a grateful sip, glad for cool water to soothe his throat. Now that he’d stopped sneezing, he was becoming aware of how sore his chest was. “Honestly, how awful do I look?” he asked.

Archie examined him. “Frankly, you looked like you were pulled out of the ocean, minus the wetness. Pale, shivering, redness in the face…you must feel miserable.”

Horatio just nodded, admitting defeat. Archie at least had the grace not to look too shocked. “Well, now that we’ve finally got you into the hammock, maybe you’ll be able to recover. But that means you have to stay in the hammock.”

“I don’t think I have the strength to make an escape,” Horatio confessed, “Just…promise me you’ll keep me informed about the cannon drills.”

“You have my word,” Archie said sincerely, “But I’m sure they’ll be fine. You’ve been training them well.”

Horatio wasn’t sure how to respond to that. With another shiver, he drew the blankets around him and sipped at the water. Archie set the mug of tea within Horatio’s reach. “I’d better go. The evening drill will be starting soon. I’ll come back with some soup and tell you how it went. In the meantime, see if you can get some sleep. Well, at least make an effort through the din we’ll be making.”

That coaxed a faint laugh out of Horatio, even if it was followed by a wet cough. Archie squeezed his shoulder and left him be. Horatio wanted to stay awake, straining his ears for sounds of the cannon drills, but the sneezing fit had exhausted him more than he realized, and he drifted off again, only coming to once more when Archie arrived with a bowl of broth.


If he was perfectly honest with himself, Horatio was too miserable to really note the passage of time. His days were spent in bed, sleeping or trying to sleep through bouts of shivering. When he was awake, he was either coughing endlessly or suffering through small but violent fits of sneezes. Occasionally, he managed to keep things at bay just long enough to have something to eat. Having something in his stomach did make him feel a little better, even if it was impossible to taste.

Archie was true to his word. Every time he looked in on Horatio, whether it was to bring some water or just to check his condition, he would update Horatio of the ship’s status and the progress of the men in regards to the cannons. It seemed that the men were maintaining their progress, consistently hitting the target. That brought Horatio a little comfort, something to cling to when his fears of letting the captain down crept into his mind.

After a few days, Doctor Cornell came round to examine Horatio’s progress. He seemed satisfied with what he saw, though he sternly reminded Horatio that he was to remain in the cabin until such time as Cornell thought him fit for duty. Horatio was in no condition to argue with him, and accepted the order with a faint nod. He saw no reason to break it, after all; as far as he could tell, they were still in calm waters.

But then he was awoken from a doze one afternoon by the sound of cannon fire. Initially convinced it was another cannon drill, he rolled over and tried to get back to sleep—it was either that or spend another hour sneezing. But then his ears picked up the sound of running feet, followed shortly by an insistent barking of orders. He sat up and strained his ears further. After a moment, his thoughts were confirmed; he heard the unmistakable cry of “She’s coming about!”

Fully awake now, Horatio considered what to do. He was still too ill for duty, according to Cornell, and he doubted that order would be rescinded even in the midst of battle. On the other hand, this is what all the drills and exhaustion had been for, and he needed to know his efforts hadn’t been in vain. Making up his mind, he gingerly slid out of the hammock and began to dress. He would just go out to the stairwell to observe the battle for a few minutes, enough to see how the crew were handling the guns.

Getting dressed took a little longer than anticipated. Although some of his strength had returned, his hands still fumbled with the buttons on his shirt and he had to sit down after a few minutes to regain a little energy. Once dressed, however, he took a deep breath and strode to the door, wanting to see the battle before his strength deserted him completely. Fortunately, the staircase had a railing for him to cling to, thus giving him something to prop him up as he peered outside.

At first, all he saw were men running around, lugging bags or tugging on ropes. But then, as the Indefatigable turned slightly, he could see men racing to the guns. It was just as he’d drilled them—they quickly and efficiently loaded the gun, positioned it just so, and then, as soon as the order was given, sent the shot flying. Amid all the noise and smoke, it was impossible to tell if the shots were landing, but based off the ragged cheers that occasionally erupted, several of the shots must have done some damage. Horatio’s heart rose a little. He had managed it. Against all odds, he had carried out his orders.

His victory was short-lived. The now-familiar itch in his nose returned, no doubt exacerbated by the smoke. Pulling out a handkerchief, he pressed it to his face, pinching his nose to muffle the sound. “Mppt! Htss! Ixt!” He barely had time to draw breath before catching a whiff of smoke and causing the itch to return. Trying to return to his quarters in that state was all but impossible. The best he could do was retreat a few steps and pray that a cannonball didn’t strike close to where he was standing.

Mercifully, it seemed that the French ship was in no mood to fight. Horatio was in the middle of his tenth set of sneezes when he heard a much louder cheer resounding from the deck. When he took another breath, the scent of smoke was much less noticeable, and he crept forward to peer out once more. The men were waving their hats in the air, looking out at a ship that was probably a third or fourth-rate frigate. It was a daunting target for a ship that hadn’t fired its guns in a while, but they’d made it through.

“Mr. Bracegirdle!” Captain Pellew’s voice cut through the air and brought the cheering to a halt, “Send over a boat of ten men to take command of the ship and steer her into the nearest English port. I believe she will make a fine prize for England’s Navy.”

Cheers broke out again, and Horatio found himself smiling. His smile grew a bit wider when Pellew continued “You have all performed admirably, gentlemen. I believe we can spare an extra helping of spirits for everyone tonight.”

The sneeze snuck up on Horatio without warning. “Kih-SHHT!” While he caught most of the spray in his handkerchief, the sound would no doubt be heard by anyone near the staircase. Sure enough, a moment later a head peered down at him from the quarterdeck. With a nervous jolt, Horatio realized it was Pellew himself. He slunk into the shadows but otherwise remained on the stairs, willing to accept whatever words Pellew might have for him.

To the captain’s immense credit, he apparently drew no attention to what was going on. Two minutes later, he was down on the stairs beside Horatio, looking him over. “I believe, Mr. Hornblower, that the doctor gave you orders to remain in bed.”

“He did, Captain,” Horatio answered weakly, “But with our first battle in months…”

Pellew held up a hand. “No need for excuses. I understand your position. I will not inform Cornell of your transgression, as long as you promise to remain in your quarters until he declares you fit for duty once more.”

“A-aye, sir.” Horatio said, more than willing to keep that promise at the moment; his head was starting to spin slightly from being upright for so long.

“Good. Away with you now before anyone else spots you.” Then, as Horatio turned to go, Pellew added “And thank you, Mr. Hornblower, for your efforts in training the men. I believe we can credit a good portion of this victory to you. I shall note as such in my report.”

A weight lifted itself off Horatio’s shoulders at those words. He managed a nod and a salute before dragging himself back to his quarters, where he collapsed across the hammock, too tired to even remove his boots.


“How’s your head?” Archie asked, as he set a small tray of food before Horatio. Cornell had just departed after looking Horatio over, a little puzzled at the spike in his temperature but otherwise convinced that Horatio was on the mend. It seemed likely that Horatio could return to light duties by the end of the week.

Horatio gave a thick sniff and dabbed at his nose with a fresh handkerchief. “Much better, thank you. It still spins a little if I move too quickly, but it’s manageable.”

Archie nodded. “Some food might help with that.”

As Horatio picked up his utensils, he said, as casually as he could, “Tell me about the battle today. Did it go well?”

“It couldn’t have gone better, Horatio!” Archie enthused, smiling widely, “The men were in excellent form. We had the Frogs lowering their colors in under an hour! And casualties were light on our side, mainly a few burns and splinters. I guess the French aren’t ready to take on an onslaught like that.”

“I’m glad it was such a success,” Horatio said, “It should keep spirits up for several months.”

“Thanks to you,” Archie answered, “We wouldn’t have anywhere near as strong a showing if you hadn’t drilled them so well.”

“You deserve as much of the credit,” Horatio demurred, feeling the heat rising to his cheeks again, “You took over when I was…sent to rest.”

“You still played a key role in their practice, Horatio.”

That startled Horatio. “How?”

“That first evening, when the men were assembled, I told them that you had exhausted yourself making sure that the drills were successful. It seemed only fair that they try their utmost to live up to the faith you placed in them. They seemed to agree, because all of them made sure to perform to the best of their abilities in every drill I supervised.”

Horatio gaped at him, unable to fully comprehend what he was hearing. Archie’s grin got a little wider as he added, “In the mess tonight, when everyone got their spirit ration, they raised their glasses without any prompting and toasted your efforts and a hope for your speedy recovery.”

Left speechless, Horatio put a hand to his head, feeling a wave of dizziness pass over him. Archie said nothing more, busying himself around the cabin. But Horatio couldn’t help but notice that when his vision cleared, there was an extra handkerchief and a cup of spirits resting on the tray. He took up the cup and sipped, allowing himself to relax. It seemed that that was what everyone expected of him, after all.