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This is the second part of the deconstruction of the Frogs and Lobsters/The Wrong War episode - the bit I needed to write, to set the scene for another Edrington story, this one a cross-over. I first of all had to see what made him tick, and, well, it works for me 

My first task was to establish certain points that were more or less ignored in the film here .

And then I could write the rest with those points in mind.

And I apologize if it all seems a bit obsessive, but these are only the 2nd and 3rd bits of fan-fiction I've written, and they just had to be done.

[Usual disclaimers about not owning characters, or ships, or countries, and certainly about not making any money out of it. All thanks to A&E, actors and everyone else.]
 
[Acknowledgement: I have been inspired on the form of this conversation by the series In Their Own Words, on http://community.livejournal.com/maryrenaultfics/, which not surprisingly interviews characters from Mary Renault’s novels.]
 
[Warning: this interview contains no sexual activity of any kind, but hints at the possibility of such goings-on, in another time and another place.]
 
Where, a villa on the Amalfi coast; when, beyond Time itself.
 
The beach stretched out, curving under the cliff, and the young men emerging from the water had started an energetic and noisy game involving a large rubber ball and a length of seaweed. I wondered about introducing a Frisbee into the game, but decided they were not ready for something that could turn into a dangerous missile if used recklessly. Why is it that young men, near a body of water, revert to childhood? The Earl made sure I was comfortable before beginning. 
 
“I received a very favourable impression of Horatio when I saw him on the quay. He stood out from the usual raff and scaff of sailors. Intelligent, diligent, and – rather beautiful. I am sometimes susceptible to such things, particularly at the beginning of a new campaign. Life and love, battle and death. We live more when the things we cherish are under threat.”
 
His eyes followed the path of the ball, which was being chased by a thin youth with a mop of red hair. “He was ambitious, of course, eager to make his mark. I was conscious of him, and that made me short-tempered with Moncoutant. There was no real purpose in my protesting about French stupidity.  I had my orders to place my battalion under his command and all I could do was hope to extricate my men without too much loss if it went awry. I hadn’t expected to have responsibility for a gaggle of sailors as well, but it made sense. It probably saved our lives in the end. Captain Pellew would have been less concerned for the survival of the 95th than for young Hornblower’s, and might not have made such strenuous efforts to return.
 
“So there we were, with Horatio in charge of liaison, as if he had some diplomatic skill.”   He fended off the ball, and glared at the youngster who almost ran into us – quite in the old style.
 
“It was amusing to provoke him and watch his reactions: a rather rueful amusement. His first attempts to mount the horse were frankly hilarious, though he soon mastered the new craft as competently as any ship. I was impressed, and by his pompous determination to do his duty: ‘To hold the bridge or destroy it’. Did it seem meaningful at the time? I can’t remember.
 
“Of course, the idea of Horatio and the bridge did strike me as the joke of a classically minded God, but our task was to help restore a monarchy, not to fight for a Republic, and events showed that the Marquis was more suited to the role of the tyrant and rapist Tarquin. I had no bright visions of holding the bridge against the forces of Lars Porsena, in Horatio’s company.” There was a moment’s silence, as his lip twisted in remembered pain. “I would have stood beside Dan Cadoux on the bridge at Vera against all the ranks of Tuscany, but I wasn’t there. I could not help.” The pause lengthened. 
 
“I have to concede that what had happened to the Marquis’ home was disgusting. By then, though, I was losing capacity to feel any sympathy for him – foolish, vain, and riddled with self-importance. Stop smirking, Rosina. I am not…”   Then he smiled: “Very well, but if I add ‘No sense of humour’, then you will see he was quite without redeeming features.
 
“The destruction of the library and the paintings – it was as your young people say ‘We R in ur Chateaux, trashing ur Patrimony’. Burned them? What would there be for that unfortunate woman to teach, and for the children to read, if all books were destroyed?” He smiled. “I seem to remember a thriving market in French books and paintings and the like in the years after the Revolution. Not all were brought to England by the émigrés, I am sure.”
 
“You mentioned the woman. Was she so stunningly beautiful?”
 
“I did not find her so. But Horatio was clearly struck by her from the first moment. A damsel in distress does appeal to a certain type of young man. Though her distress would have been less – permanent, if he had not tried to rescue her from the dragon.”
 
He stretched back, his eyes returning from the past to the present, from the personal to the general. “I had heard a great deal about Mr Hornblower on the journey out. Everyone spoke of his courage, his leadership, his facility for planning extraordinary and successful attacks on our enemies. He had only recently been given his promotion to Lieutenant – and Naval Officers earn their promotion on their merits, not by purchase. His own assessment of his brilliance had just been confirmed, not merely by an over-fond Captain, but by a panel of other officers. It is a phenomenon that is not confined to the Navy, but when you have paid good money for a commission you tend not to look on it as God-given recognition of your virtues.”
 
“Then of course, he left young Archie Kennedy in charge, without reassurance. The boy was – Horatio knew him to be - prone to panic, though I found that he could be steadied without much difficulty.” His brows flicked together, and he retreated for a moment into memory. “The discussion about being on the wrong side of the river if the bridge was blown – which seemed to depress Archie – was an argument based on the expectation of the failure of the main body of Charette’s forces. Of course, that was what happened, but for the sake of the men’s morale, Mr Hornblower should not have conceded the point at that stage. He should have reminded them that if we held the line of the river, we would eventually form part of the triumphal march on Paris when General Charette arrived at the head of his troops, augmented by thousands of eager Frenchmen. That should have appealed to them: grateful women throwing themselves at them, wine, and adulation. Worth fighting for – worth running a risk for…
 
“Even if not quite so successful, it is worth remembering that if you have to destroy a bridge in the face of an enemy advance, it is probably better to be on the far side of it. Military strategy seems to have passed him by.” He moved the sunshade so that the glare no longer fell on our faces, and poured out more of the light chilled wine. He offered the plate of biscuits.
 
“There was a job to do – a distasteful one, in many ways, but if we could all choose which orders to obey, which cause to ally ourselves with, it would not be an Army but a mob. No, Mr Hornblower allowed his heart – or some other, lower part – to overrule his head. Possibly I am thinking of his stomach: I know that the Marquis’s brutality sickened him.
 
“Nevertheless, there are certain codes to follow. They do things differently in the Navy, but there are rules and procedures. Horatio ignored them. In particular he abandoned his post, in imminent expectation of an attack, to spend the night with a young woman.”
 
“I thought you found that aspect amusing,” I said.
 
“Amusing? His men had withstood what seemed to be a minor assault on the bridge, and I hoped that he would be more mindful of his duty after that. He seemed to be conscious of his error. That amused me.” A distant look came into his eyes before they turned again towards the sea.
 
“Of course, once we found out the truth about ‘the enemy’ we were facing, decisions had to be made. Moncoutant might have been in nominal command, but I did not consider that he had any authority over the British troops. I sent Horatio to advise him that we were pulling back to the beach, and that his men too should abandon Muzillac, since our presence there served no purpose in protecting Charette’s army, which I suspected had already faced that damned artillery and been destroyed.”
 
“You sent him to organize Muzillac’s defence?”
 
The Earl snorted. “That would have been foolish. I had officers and men with the necessary skills, if I had thought it appropriate to offer their services. The Quartermaster-Sergeant had more experience in organizing a fortified position. No, I sent him to do the task he had been assigned, to act as liaison with the Marquis, and advise him of our plans. However, it was obvious that he had become involved, in the face of Moncoutant’s lack of interest. I thought it best not to say this to his men – it was essentially a dereliction of his duty to them, which should have taken precedence.”
 
“You made up a cover-story!” I said, half-accusingly.
 
He hesitated. “If Mr Hornblower had died, then I would have had to take responsibility for the decision I claimed to have made. It would have been right to do so. I could have gone into Muzillac and dragged him out. I chose not to. But if he survived, any doubt cast on him at that point would have weakened his authority in the future, and he was a promising young officer, who would no doubt return to good sense and prudence once he had put a few creases into his new coat. I was not willing to abandon him that easily: either his or my reputation rested on the outcome. So we waited. I hoped he would leave Muzillac in time to join us, although it made pursuit that much more certain. I was displeased that he delayed until after the village had fallen, and then refused to leave without that young woman who was – who had shown herself to be – a supporter of our enemy.”
 
He saw my frown and said “That was self evident from the start. She did not look upon Moncoutant as a saviour from the evils of the Republicans. I don’t entirely blame her for that, although if I had to choose between the Marquis and the men of Nantes who filled barges with women and children, and priests and servants, and sank them in the river mouth, I would have chosen the Marquis.” There was a sharpness in his voice. Some horrors are difficult to put out of mind.
 
“Whatever his relationship with her had been, she faced far less danger from the Republicans than she had from the Marquis. There was no need for him to force her – blackmail her effectively – into attempting an escape. Which of course proved to be fatal for her, and almost fatal for young Archie and the rest of us.”
 
“Why did you bother blowing up the bridge?”
 
“Those were our instructions: to hold the bridge or destroy it. We could not hold it, so it had to be destroyed. It gave us a few minutes’ grace, before the no doubt jubilant villagers showed the troops to the ford.”
 
“And once we had Mr Hornblower back among us, we could retreat to the beach, and pray that there would be a ship there to take us off.”
 
“You took command away from Horatio,” I said.
 
“Yes – in a sense. I gave Mr Kennedy responsibility for the men, and for his officer. And he responded as I knew he would. A very promising officer, young Archie.”
 
His eyes drifted towards the young men, and nodded towards the one who had just claimed the ball, and who was running back into the sea, laughing. Archie Kennedy. “That is the meaning of being beyond time. We can come here whenever we will, as you can. From whenever.”
 
“And Dan?” I asked, though I knew the answer.
 
“You have been to the church he is buried in, with his men. And have stood on the bridge where he died, and photographed his memorial. He cannot come here.”
 
 
Footnote: Captain Daniel Cadoux died on 1 September 1813, with 16 of his company, defending a bridge across the Bidassoa against the retreating French at Vera. The old bridge still stands with a monument inscribed, in English and Spanish: "To the glory of God and in memory of Captain Daniel Cadoux and his gallant riflemen of the 2nd Bn 95th (Rifle Brigade) who on 1 September 1813 fell gloriously defending this bridge against the furious attack of a French Division. His fame can never die", the last words being taken from the Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith. The people of Vera will direct the visitor interested in the Peninsula War to the bridge, and to the church where he and his men are buried. 
 
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2070184
(if you click on my name, you can find another photo, of the Bidassoa from the bridge - rather mournful)
 
 

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
mylodon
May. 16th, 2008 12:15 pm (UTC)
Very interesting take on events - and very reasonable. I've always been in the camp that says Archie is underestimated and that he has great depths of capability.

Thanks for sharing this.
rosinarowantree
May. 16th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
I like to think that if you (generalized 'you') rewatch the episode, you will see that I am right (or at least, justified). And watch Archie - he yelps at Horatio, but straightens up and answers sensibly when Edrington talks to him. He just needed a firmer hand. Um.
mylodon
May. 16th, 2008 12:29 pm (UTC)
Interesting thoughts (and always a good excuse to rewatch the film!) I've always assumned that he reacts differently to Horatio and Milord because he's in love with Hornblower...
rosinarowantree
May. 16th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
I don't really know enough about the rest of the series to comment - I am strictly an Edrington fan, because I recognize him. As soon as I wrote the word 'susceptible' I knew I had him! He's flirting with Hornblower in a safe and rather unkind way - no come back, and a bit of tension released.

I did originally write a bit about Mutiny and the death of Archie, but I cut that to end with the 'real' death of Daniel Cadoux, compared to the 'fictional' death of Archie. If you know Georgette Heyer's The Spanish Bride you will see that Cadoux and Edrington are made for each other.
bigbellyfatbob
May. 20th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
I liked this. It gave a good, logical reason for some of the things that really bothered me when I saw that episode; the things which made me want to kick the writers. I also like your characterisation of Edrington - as I've said before. :) When I can hear a character's voice ringing in my head while I read a piece of dialogue, that = awesome.

Good stuff!

But I don't understand why Edrington said Cadoux could not come. Is it because Cadoux truly existed, or because you know that he is dead? I should think that if all characters are treated as real, then you know that Edrington and Kennedy are most certainly dead as well.
rosinarowantree
May. 20th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm always doing that: "But you've got lots of Army officers who'd be better at it and wouldn't end up with the silly gurrl!" "Why don't you just cross the ford and go home?" and the one I didn't answer: "How did you get the horses on and off the Indefatigable?" I had to connect the dots to make Edrington make sense. And then I found his voice in my head, all the time.

As for Cadoux. Yes, it's because he's really real. And so really dead. That was why Edrington couldn't be there, beside him on the bridge. Because Edrington is fictional and Cadoux wasn't, so he wasn't allowed to 'interfere'. Kennedy did die in fiction, but you can go back and read/watch Frogs and Lobsters, and he isn't dead. And Edrington is just there, just for that moment in time, pinned like a fly in aspic, as I've been dying to say somewhere.

And it made the ending sort of angsty. Which suited it.
eglantine_br
Jun. 9th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh this is so good. I love Edrington's voice and his dry intelligence. I wanted to try a sort of out-of-time with no explanation thing myself, but have not been brave enough.

Poor Daniel Cadoux, I wonder how he would react to being remembered electronically, by random people all over the world.

Also I loved "I'm in your chateau..."

And, I wish I could have seen Archie with the frisbee.

Thanks again. SJH
rosinarowantree
Jun. 9th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I do not write much fanfic - if I use both hands to count, I have fingers left over - so any compliments I am grateful for.

I'd give it a go, if you want to write - if you really want to write, you will have to, of course, but posting it may take more courage.

As for Dan Cadoux, I expect that at the time he had rather that Skerritt had sent the re-inforcements ... Or that he had been able to shave, and tidy his uniform, before being remembered.

A friend created this picture of Daniel Cadoux


based on the standard dress uniform for Rifles Officers, and this portrait of his mother.



As Rifleman Harris* said: "He was a great beau, although rather effeminate and ladylike in manners".

The real one, who wrote his memoirs, not Sharpe's Chosen Man



Edited at 2010-06-09 03:22 pm (UTC)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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