Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dictionary Word Challenge: "Conventional Issues"-- Hazel West

Here's my contribution to the challenge. Amazingly it is only 1,000 words this time :P

Conventional Issues
Featuring Horatio Hornblower & Co.

Author’s Note

I was lazy this time due to having so many other stories and projects going that I decided to write a fan-fiction seeing as the first thing that popped into my head when I read the collection of words was Horatio Hornblower. So here is a short Horatio fanfic that I hope it is at least a little amusing. I apologize if you do not know who Horatio is, and if you don’t, seriously, go watch the movies. I guess the important thing is that I got all the words in! For the sake of copyrighting, Horatio and comrades belong to C.S. Forester originally but also to Andrew Benson and Andrew Grieve for the awesome movies. O'Keeth is mine.

If Captain Horatio Hornblower had discovered anything during his time as the master of his own vessel, it was that the hardest part, certainly, was not in fighting the enemy. No, in fact, being at war was as natural to Horatio as breathing. He had always been good at tactics and maneuvers and believed he could hold his own and keep his head under fire.
            No, the issues always came in the mundane; like finding a steward. He had had Doughty for a while, yes, but then, due to his better sense of justice, he had been forced to let him go and was, once again, having to make due with Styles and his prison-style cooking. Horatio didn’t necessarily care, but he did have to think of his first lieutenant, Mr. Bush, as well, and Mr. Bush did not care much for burned eggs and unidentifiable black pudding every morning.
            Now, however, the matter was not so much finding a steward—not that he had stopped looking, but Styles would do for the moment—it was much more unfortunate. Mr. Bush might not agree, but it had decidedly put the Hotspur into a troublesome predicament.
            They were now in need of a new carpenter.
            Not a week ago, Horatio had stood on the deck with Mr. Bush after a skirmish with a French frigate, watching the previous carpenter being carried off on a stretcher. The ship had taken several bad hits and in the most unfortunate of circumstances Mr. Jennings, the carpenter, had been standing right in the way of the cannon blast that had torn a hull into the ship that it was his duty to repair.
            “There’s a good chance we may not make it back to port, sir,” Mr. Bush said quietly so the men would not hear.
            “I fear the same thing, Mr. Bush,” Horatio replied, already thinking of the best way to go about their predicament.
            “I don’t suppose we have someone else who could take the position?”
            Horatio shook his head slowly. “I fear that we don’t have anyone qualified. Unless someone is hiding hidden talents.”
            “Perhaps Matthews would know,” Mr. Bush said.
            “I don’t suppose we could hope that Styles is as accomplished a carpenter as a cook.”
            “Oh, saints preserve us,” Mr. Bush groaned. “If that were the case, I fear I would have to jump over the side now, and save him the trouble later.”
            Horatio smiled slightly and shook his head. “Come, we must made the closest port, and it will be enough of a feat to do just that. We shall patch her the best we can in the meantime and after that all we can do, Mr. Bush, is pray we make land before even a carpenter wouldn’t be able to save us.”
            Horatio gave the order to sail for the nearest land, which should be Ireland. It was not ideal, but it would have to do in their desperate circumstance.
            The Hotspur made her way through the waves as if through mire, low and taking on water, even as the men did their best to pump it out. It was beginning to look like they may not make it when a shout came from aloft.
            “Sir! Land off to starboard, sir!” cried Mr. Orrick who was taking a lookout position.
            “There, you see, Mr. Bush,” Horatio said, relieved. “We shall not drown after all. And we will endeavor to find a carpenter when we dock in port.”
            Mr. Bush did not look convinced, but he rarely did, and once they made port, Horatio sent Mr. Orrick and Matthews to make an enquiry on the docks about a carpenter.
            More men seemed to come for the interview than expected, most of which Horatio could tell had never hammered a nail in their life, nor would he trust their unsteady hand with his ship. By the time he and Mr. Bush had interviewed at least twenty, his head began to throb and he could tell his lieutenant was grinding his teeth. But finally, as if in answer to their prayers, there came a man who seemed to fit the bill nicely.
            To be sure, he was a proper nomad but in the way of an Irish tinker, with a mop of ginger hair on his head, and an easy grin. He looked like he knew his way around the world, and wouldn’t let any small thing stop him, and Horatio could tell from his stride that he had been aboard a ship before for long periods of time.
            “Your name, sir?” Mr. Bush asked wearily, his chin propped in his hand.
            “Tom O’Keeth,” the man replied with a nod.
            “And you’re a carpenter?”
            “Sure, and I would say so; going on five years now,” O’Keeth replied.
            “Perfect, welcome aboard the Hotspur, O’Keeth,” Horatio said with a smile.
            And so it was settled. For the night, anyway. They got supplies and materials to start the repairs on their ship, and Horatio went to his cabin that night, prepared for a restful sleep, thinking that everything was once again running smoothly.
            Until he woke up the next morning to loud shouts and when he came out, he found that Tom O’Keeth had slipped on the wet deck and broken his arm.
            “I knew it was too good to be true,” Mr. Bush growled.
            Horatio sighed. “Yes, I suppose so.”
            “Sir,” Styles came up, and Mr. Bush instantly rolled his eyes.
            “Yes, Styles?” Horatio asked.
            “I do know a bit of carpentry myself. I could try my hand…”
            “No, Styles!” Horatio and Mr. Bush said at once.
            “Of course, sir, sorry sir,” Styles said and strode off back to the galley where the smell of burned black pudding and coffee soon emanated.
            “I suppose it’s back to shore then?” Mr. Bush inquired.
            “It would seem so,” Horatio replied with a sigh. Yes, he much preferred war to this.

Copyright© 2014 by Hazel B. West


  1. I had to Google Horatio because I had no idea who this man was. From what little knowledge I had I really enjoyed the story! The ending definitely made me giggle.
    I really like the grasp you have on the dialogue as well. Using older vocabulary can be a bit awkward with some stories if it's not written correctly, but you do it very well and it really felt natural! :)
    Good job, Hazel!

  2. Haha thank you ;) After watching the movies hundreds of times, these guys feel like my own characters. I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if you didn't have any prior knowledge of the people. If you historical historical military adventure though you should definitely check them out :)

    1. I'll definitely look into them! I enjoy militaristic stuff quite a bit.

  3. That was fun :) You do have a knack with old-fashioned dialogue, as Ms. Keeth said. And isn't the ending just what would happen!


    1. Thank you! Haha, yes, no end up misfortunes ;)


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