The Examination for Lieutenant by C S Forester
Spain is still neutral but is being drawn into an alliance with the French enemy. In Cadiz Bay promoted acting Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower is still serving on the Indefatigable under Captain Pellew. A spanish longboat rows up to their frigate. Meahnwhile a supply ship is bound for Gibraltar commanded by Captain Foster. They sight a ship on the starboard bow. Captain Pellew reads a letter from the Spanish who have made peace with the French. The supply ship is sunk by the spanish warship and goes down. Indefatigable sails out of Cadiz Harbour and finds the wreckage of the British supply ship.
They pick up Captain Foster who tells them about the sinking of the schooner. They sail to Algeciras and Gibraltar where Hornblower is put forward for his Lieutenant's examination. Captain Pellew has to cut rations by half because of the sinking of the supply ship. The men are not happy and start grumbling. One of the men fall down from the rigging because of weakness from the rationing. Hornblower continues to study for the examinations coming up. A supply ship is sighted but a spanish fire ship blows it up. Finch dies and they sell off his gear for his widow. They sail to accompany a transport ship and a diplomatic chap comes aboard. Hornblower tells Bunting to stop any mutinous talk about the officers' getting extra food.
Bunting breaks into the store room and is caught by Hornblower who screams that he is hungry. Hornblower and bunting are punished by having to go through the gauntlet. The men flog him as he goes past. Captain Pellew says that the next person stealing food from the hold will be hung. Bunting hides in the longboat during the night. When they go ashore Bunting tries to escape. It seems that there is some sort of plague in the town. They swap the gold for some supplies. They realise that it is the black death and that they will have to be quarantined.
Hornblower is given command of the Caroline and is to take the supplies back to Gibraltar. During that time, the quarantine time of three weeks will be up. Hornblower frees Bunting because he needs all the crew he can get. The crew load the grain and cows into the hold of the Caroline schooner. They set sail at last for sea and fresh air. Tapling is given the job of cook's mate. Hornblower continues his studies for his lieutenant's examination. They think one of the men has got the black plague but it seems that he is drunk. The cattle need water so they go into the coast to ge water from a stream. The landing party is attacked and Bunting runs for it. Hornblower chases him and saves him from being shot, but forces Hornblower to shoot him.
They bring the water back on board and see the Dreadnought longboat takin sides of beef. They chase them and Hornblower tells Foster that it is his responsibility if the plague is carried to the rest of the fleet. Bunting is buried at sea and Hornblower questions his readiness for command to Tapling. Hornblower sails back to Gibraltar and goes back to the Indefatigable where he bemoans the loss of Bunting. Pellew instructs him to learn about the duty of command. The day of Hornblowers lieutenant examination comes and he goes inshore to sit it but Dreadnought foster is one of the examiners. Hornblower is there all day and is one of the last to be examined.
Foster asks him a hairy question but is interrupted by a fireship attacking the harbour. They row out and Hornblower jumps onto the fire ship and with Foster steer the fire ship away from the Indefatigable. They jump off the fire ship and the longboat rescues them. Pellew congratulates Hornblower on his courage.
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