Horatio Hornblower - The Even Chance
by C S Forester>
It is january 1793 and the British Fleet is anchoring at Spithead, Portsmouth. Ships and men are rotting away from idleness. In France, revolution is raging and things are topsy-turvy. Seventeen year old midshipman Horatio Hornblower is being rowed out to his new ship He is sent to the midshipman's berth through the chaos of the sailors cavorting below decks. The other officers give him a hard time and he spews on the floor. Captain Keene is piped aboard the Justinian and he interviews Hornblower, telling him he should have been a doctor. The captain tells him that Mathematics will be more useful than all the Greek learing he has done.
In the midshipmen's mess the midshipmen are talking when Jack Simpson returns and starts to harass Hornblower. Simpson makes him dance and humiliates him. Archie has an epileptic fit and Hornblower looks after him. Hornblower is woken up every half hour and the next morning is told to go to the fighting top by a seaman to see mr Eccleston. He is left up there by Simpson. The captain gives the midshipmen lessons in Mathematics and Hornblower is the only one to calculate the correct position. Simpson takes revenge by beating Horation up. Clayton pulls a gun on Jack and tells him to stop.
Hornblower is sent to shore to stop any deserters escaping from an East Indiadaman convoy coming into port. Sailors from the Goliath meet in the tavern and they play cards. Simpson accuses Hornblower of cheating and Horatio asks for satisfaction with a duel. Clayton knocks him out with a belaying pin so that he misses the duel and clayton fights the duel in his place. Clayton is killed and Simpson wounded in the shoulder. Hornblower hears the news that kink louis has been killed and that it means war. They get transferred to the frigate Indefatigable under captain Pellew. He gives the crew a stirring speech about fighting the French.
Captain Pellew talks to Hornblower and he gets blasted for the situation with Sparrow. Pellew tells him to pull his men into shape or else suffer the consequences. An enemy ship is sighted and there is a call to battle stations. They fire on the French ship and then win the battle. In the next scene they are in the Bay of Biscay with the Indefatigable attacking a French food convoy. They put on a crew to take the ship back to England and capture another ship which Hornblower is given command of with a prize crew. The french sailors are put into the forecastle but Hornblower is scared that he does not know what he is doing. There is a hole in the hull and they fill the hole with a sail. But the water still continues to fill the hull so Hornblower decides to abandon ship in the boats.
They row off and the ship goes down in the distance. They put up a sail in the longboat and head for England. The French take over the boat and they head for France. Luckily the Indefatigable sails into sight and they are rescued. The men congratulate Horatio and Captain Pellew congratulates him as well. They sight a French ship but the fog comes in. They see the French ship coming in to attack them and they are taken by surprise. They are led into a trap by the shore battery and get pounded by cannon fire. The Indefatigable goes out and then rescues British sailors sunk by the French.
The French ship was the Papillon that attacked them. Captain Pellew makes a plan to go in and cut out the Papillon from the French Harbor. They row in the longboats and Archie has a fit and Horatio has to knock him out with the tiller. They climb up the side of the Papillon and start fighting the French marines and sailors. Sparrow cuts loose Archie in the boat and shoots Hornblower who falls overboard. One of his crew rescues him. French corvettes are sighted out to sea then Hornblower accuses Simpson of shooting him. The shore batteries fire on them and Eccleston is hit as well as the other officer. Hornblower is now in command of the Papillon. Simpson tries to take over but Hornblower has him arrested. They attack the French corvettes and the French surrender.
Jack Sparrow and Hornblower have a duel and Sparrow is killed. Captain Pellew is very pleased with Horatio Hornblower and predicts a great future for him in the British Navy.
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