Title: Events of a Morning
Word Count 727
Disclaimer: I invented Dr H,
Events of a Morning
The walk from the jolly boat was short.
The stone of the street felt so strange under his shoes. Archie's arm was strong under his own, and the sun was gentle. Even so, he was slicked with sweat. And then his heart did that horrid clenching stumble. It seemed to loose the beat sometimes now. It only took a moment, but it felt so wrong, the useless flapping, as if he would never be strong again. It filled Horatio with terror, each time.
He had not told anyone, not the doctor, not the Captain, absolutely not Archie. He was not getting well, not the way he thought he should. Surely he should not still be so weak. The fever was gone during the day, but it still seemed to come again at night. Maybe father could explain it. Horatio could tell his father everything.
But here was the coach now, and he got inside. Archie closed the door and the little window curtains.
“Come here, Horatio.”
There was no one to see, they had it all to themselves, all the way to Kent. He let Archie draw him close. The bars of sunlight washed over them both, over and over, as the coach pitched and rolled. Horatio folded his long foolish legs as best he could. His head was in Archie's lap now, no one but them, no one to see. He had his face down where they both so liked it to be. But this was not for that. He could hear Archie's heart, strong and reliable. Now and again, Archie's stomach grumbled.
Archie's hands were stroking Horatio's hair and face, tracing his eyebrows, caressing his neck and ears. Horatio could hear the sound of the horses hooves, striking, striking, so different from the sea. He pictured the rumps of the horses, shining in the sun, with the dusty harness over them. Did horses like to have their ears stroked, as Archie was doing now? He thought they did. Did it feel the same to them, Horatio wondered. Did it feel as if a gentle hand was speaking in silence? Horatio had petted horses of course, but on the nose .That is how you greeted horses. So soft, a horses nose. Soft as a kiss, soft as the skin against his lips when he took the length of Archie into his mouth. Horses did not like to be kissed.
He must have dozed there, a little. Foolish thought. Nobody kissed horses, of course not. His mind was wandering off.
“Love you, Archie.” He murmured. The hand answered, curving around the back of Horatio's neck.
The coach rocked on, toward Kent. After some time, Horatio slept.
“I have just about...there! Got it. No you cannot have it back. Its all nasty now.”
Dr Hornblower put the thing in his pocket, and his instrument away. The little girl shrieks had diminished to shuddering resentment.
“No more rocks up your nose.” He said. “Promise me?”
“Pomise.” She spoke around her thumb. Her eyes were drooping.
“Good girl. Not in the ears either. Nor anywhere else,”
He added the last hastily. He sensed years ahead with this one. She was only three and had already been bitten by a donkey, swallowed a coin, and run head first into a large tree. Oh, and put her teeth through her lip. Now she subsided against her mothers shoulder, golden hair framing an angel face with a rather red nose.
“She'll do well now, I think.” John Hornblower said. “No, no charge this time. I was just on my way by anyway. Its always a pleasure to see a little one who is well and lively.”
The angel's father walked him to the door.
“I saved a bone for Cloud,” He said.
“Thank you. I know she will delight in it. I will give it to her at home.” Dr Hornblower tucked the bone away in his pocket.
Cloud got up from the doorstep. She had hoped to have the bone now. She could clearly smell it in his coat pocket. She fell in beside the doctor with a doggish sigh. Dr. Hornblower petted her absently as they walked home. It was good to have a dog to walk with.