Title - Trouble with Bullies and Ghosts
Rating - G/PG13
Characters - Dr. Hornblower, Horatio Hornblower.
Disclaimer - I do not own.
Summary - When Horatio is dragged home and accused of bullying, Horatio needs to find out what the real trouble is with Horatio.
Sequel to "In Strong Arms"
"Look Horace. I didn't want to have o do this but I thought that you should know. The boy has lost his mother and is acting out," Mr. Victor Jerald and Dr. Horace Hornblower sat in the latter's study right off the examination room. The Hornblower house doubled as the clinic and the family home. It was decorated simply, with red drapes a desk, shelves of books and a fire place. As it was nearly summer, the fire place wasn't lit.
Just that morning Horace had searched the house for his son who wasn't in his bedroom when Horace had gone to awaken the boy. He had spent a half hour wondering where Horatio had gone and searching the grounds when Victor had pounded on his door. He had Horatio by the collar, the boy had signs of a black eye and Horace had shooed him upstairs while he and Mr. Jerald talked in the study.
"Do you know what happened or are you just assuming?" Horace asked. His voice was gentle. Victor deflated some what but was still rather angry.
"I found my boy and your boy fighting in the grave yard by the old church. My boy was crying and is beside himslef in fright," Victor glared at the Doctor. Horace blinked.
"Horatio is smaller than Jason, I cannot see him beating your son," Horace replied.
"I don't care, keep your boy away from mine," and with that Victor Jerald stomped out of the study and out to his chase which then started down the road, the horses at a trot.
Horace sighed and decided that the only way he was going to get to the bottom of this was to see if Horatio would tell him the truth.
_ _ _
Horatio had run up the stairs, tears at his eyes but he refused to cry in front of Mr. Jerald. He had closed his bedroom door and tore the drapes across the window's. In a huff of anger the young child usually never felt or gave himself into, he tore his bloodied and muddied clothing from his body.
Taking a cloth and some lye soap he swiftly washed the dirt from his skin. The water was cold but the smell of the soap calmed his nerves somewhat. His mother had done this plenty of times when he was distressed.
Once he was done, Horatio dug out a long, flannel night shirt from his dresser and pulled it over his head. Then he climbed into bed. By then strong streams of tears were running down his face. His sides hurt from the kicking and he knew that Papa would not be happy about last nights adventure.
Curling up in his nest, Horatio tried to think about anything else than Jason Jerald and Mark Flint.
- - -
Some time later, the feeling of a hand stroking his hair awoken him. The drapes were still closed but the lamp was lit and he could smell some beef stew. Horatio yawned, stretched and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
"There you are cockyolly-bird," Horace said, using the crib name he and Julia used to call their son. Horatio looked to his father who was sitting in a comfy chair by the bed.
"How are you feeling?" Horace asked.
"Better, Papa," Horatio replied. A tray of food was set in front of him.
"Eat, but I do want to know what happened and how you got your injuries," Horace said. Horatio nodded seeing as how his mouth was full of stew.
"It all started at school, yesterday..."
It was earily silent. For a school yard there was no laughing, chasing or playing. For a one room school house with an old instructor that insisted on children being silent and working hard at their studies - it was the epitome of well behaved children because they had to look out for the cane.
Mr. Fletcher was wizzened old man who would beat the boy's if any had stepped out of line. Horatio sat in his chair, shoulders back, chin up, eyes straight ahead. They weren't allowed to look around, nor fidget. Anything was met with a beating with the cane. Horatio had learned that once and never did so again.
However three other boys hadn't learned their lesson at all; Jason Jerald, Mark Flint and Bill Landon were the children of the three richest Merchants in town. They wore tailored clothing, the cloth coming from France and some how they always had money to throw at people.
Something pinched Horatio in the back of his head. Then dropped into the collar of his shirt. By the feeling he deduced it to be a small pebble. This was a favorite game of the three. They would throw pebbles at the younger children till someone moved and Mr. Fletcher caught the fidgeter. Horatio's only reaction was a blink of his eyes but otherwise he didn't move.
Mr. Fletcher was reading from the Bible and Horatio tried his hardest to concentrate on the words, just in case he were to be asked any questions about the passeges. However, the pebbles became bigger till small rocks were being thrown. One went wide and landed on the floor halfway betweent he students desks and the teachers desks. Mr. Fletcher looked up and glared at the offending rock.
"Who threw that..." he growled. His ice cold gaze threw the children into shivering fear, except for Jason, Mark and Bill. Who just smirked. Jason raised his hand.
"Yes, Mr. Jerald?" Mr. Fletcher called.
"It was Hornblower, sir," Jason replied, his tone honey sweet and raked Horatio along his spine like nails. Mr. Fletcher glared at the youngest child of his school. Horatio didn't say a word.
"Mr. Jerald, are you lying to me? I don't like liers and any lier should be punished, smartly,' Mr. Fletcher glared. For his part Jason didn't fidget.
"I am not lying, sir," was the reply, innocent as vinagar. Horatio clenched his teeth as Mr. Fletcher picked up his cane and marched towards Horatio. Mr. Fletcher passed the young student and stood at the desk behind Horatio where Jason, Mark and Bill sat. Without warning, Mr. Fletcher grabbed Jason by his collar, laid him across the desk and laid into him with his cane.
Horatio sighed in relief. Mr. Fletcher, at least, wasn't afraid of giving a thrashing when he needed too.
- - -
Horatio raised his arms so that his father could pull up his sleep shirt to look at the bruises. Horace whistled in surprise; "How'd you get those?"
"Later, at the grave yard," Horatio replied with a yawn.
"Well, I shall have to wait till you are awake enough to tell me, no won't I?" Horace smiled.
"Papa, how much trouble am I in?" Horatio asked.
"Well, maybe you should stay around the house and help me in the clinic for a few days, only while you heal though. Mr. Jerald wasn't happy about you and Jason getting into that fight,"
"Mr. Jerald came in near the end, he doesn't know what Jason did and Jason isn't going to tell him," Horatio rolled his eyes and huffed. Horace spread some healing salv over the bruises and then wrapped Horatio's middle with soft bandages.
"Go to sleep son," Horace said as he tucked Horatio into his little nest, "Love you, my Cockyolly-Bird," Horace placed a kiss on his son's forehead and turned the lamp down before he left the room. The door stood ajar so that he could hear any night terrors that Horatio might have during the night.