Hornblower and the Hand of Destiny
Author C. S. Forester
Publication Apr 1941
Publication Order
Preceded by
Hornblower and His Majesty
Followed by
Hornblower's Charitable Offering
1799 1799
Preceded by
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Followed by
Hornblower and the Widow McCool

Hornblower and the Hand of Destiny is a short story written by C. S. Forester which first appeared in Collier's magazine (as The Hand of Destiny in the U.S. on November 23, 1940 and in Argosy (UK) magazine in April, 1941.

Plot summary Edit

Hornblower was promoted to Lieutenant while prisoner at Ferrol, Spain and was released to return to England at the end of the novel. HMS Indefatigable has enough lieutenants so he was transferred to HMS Marguerite, Captain Courtney commanding. Captain Courtney was one of those captains who seem to delight in doling out punishment to the last man to obey an order.

On this day, all hands were assembling to witness punishment of fifteen crewmembers. While Courtney was checking the Articles of War for the appropriate paragraphs, fourteen men climbed up the hatchway, six of them having muskets, and assembled on the forecastle, turning two carronades around so that they were pointed along the deck at the masts, loaded one with ball and the other with grape and canister. About then the Assistant Master-at-Arms appeared on deck all in a tousle, spied the group on the forecastle and uttered a cry. That's when the Captain finally noticed the activity.

Hornblower noticed that one of the men was Garton of his division and realized that these were the men who were to be punished, one was missing. Garton then announced that they would not stand for punishment, that they would fire the cannons if any were to try to take them, asking for promise that they would not be flogged for a week and to not be flogged for nothing. The fifteenth mutineer, as Hornblower discovers, is in the magazine with flint and steel in case the Captain and crew try to take the other fourteen; he was to blow up the ship

After a discussion with the men, Courtney realizes that he is at an impasse. The men request to negotiate with Hornblower as he is one that they trust. During negotiation, the mutineers promise to do their duty if they are not to be flogged for a week and not for any past actions. Hornblower takes this promise back to the Captain.

So, for the next week, the mutineers do their duty, and the Captain meets his promise. On the sixth day on the mid-watch the lookout observes a ship in the distance in the dark, which proves to be the Castilla, 36, a Spanish ship. The Marguerite beats to quarters. Going into battle, they come alongside the Castilla, both ships fire off a broadside, and a boarding party boards her, the First Lieutenant is killed in action. Hornblower leads a boarding party, so does the Captain. The Spanish crew flees below. Knowing that the Captain had in mind to flog the mutineers, Hornblower suggests that the mutineers be assigned as the prize crew to get them away from Courtney, to which the Captain scoffs at the idea. Fletcher, wounded on Marguerite shoots the Captain in the knee, Hornblower having been the only one to have seen this, and he never tells. So ends the career of Captain Courtney and Hornblower becomes first lieutenant.

References Edit

Characters Edit

Ships Edit

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