Maybe it was like this
The knock seemed quiet, hesitant. Perhaps his ears were still dulled. Every year it seemed to take longer for them to return to acuteness.
“Come..” The door opened. It was Bush
“Supplies are loaded, sir. We are ready to get under weigh.”
“Thank you Mr. Bush, see to it, if you please. I shall be – I shall be occupied here for some time.”
Hornblower returned to his letter.
'Dear Mrs. Hammond,
It is with deepest regret that I take pen in hand to--'
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