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On the Riverbank

Title: On the Riverbank

Author Eglantine_br

Word Count 424

Rating G

On the Riverbank

The red sound and the smell of the canon, and his horse fighting for his head. Percy swerved them off the road. Between the trees now, and the branches tore at his hat, whipped his face. Closer now, and the sound shook him, and the taste-smell was of terror.


The smoke stank in the air.

“Come starboard a point.” That was Mr Kennedy.

The men heaved and groaned. They were quick, Percy would give them that. Sailors knew little of the world, but they were quick with cannon.

Hornblower now, on foot, crashing through the underbrush. He carried his sword in one hand, awkward and useless.

Fear was pouring off of Hornblower too. It stained his words, pleading words--


Smoke. The motion across the river was indistinct. The cannon ripped the trees.

His horse shuffled, the footing too soft. He put a hand to her shoulder. “Hush, Dolly.” She heard him, dropped her head to blow.



Kennedy didn't look up. He was soaked with sweat, gathered tight past shaking, like a clay pot boiled dry, such men could crack. Percy had seen it.

He was gathering his own voice when Hornblower spoke again. He spoke sharp this time, and that was right, that was needed.

“Mr Kennedy, report.”

The white face turned, gulped.

“Enemy musket fire across the river-- they took us by surprise, they--”

“Any attempt on the bridge?” That was Percy. A hard fact question. He kept his voice hard too. Something to stand on.

“No, Sir.”

Hardness helped. Kennedy was facing him now, as if on parade, hands at his sides, but still the white throat throbbed with gulping. He had blue eyes, And there was intelligence there, and sadness. Blue was Kennedy's color too, Percy realized. He had not seen it before. Kennedy was the color the sky at sea, just where it pales above the horizon.

“Hold your fire.”

“Cease Fire.”

Far better to see the worst, whatever it was. Why had they had not attempted to take the bridge if they had surprise?

Percy felt his neck prickle.

They were all looking now, straining to see. The trees across the river were innocent, dull.

“Mr Kennedy, I suggest you reform your men.”

“Aye-aye,” Kennedy flicked a smile. “Yes, Sir.”

Musket fire only?” Hornblower was puzzled too. “Where is their artillery?”

And that, of course, was the right question.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
Like taken out of the movie :) As always - I'm stunned. It feels so real, one can easily imagine to be with them...

I'll save this one too :) For future enjoyment :)

Sep. 26th, 2016 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm torn between the urge to save them all - I would have to save every last one of them - and the fact that my iPad memory is full to creaking already. So I leave them here, and hope sincerely that you will never ever ever take down your writing, at least not without warning me first!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )