Characters: The King and Peter Marlowe
King Rat is one of my favourite books, for the relationship between the American corporal who controlled much of the black market in Changi prison camp during WWII, and the British flight lieutentant who became his closest friend. Their parting did not invite a reunion. (Clavell was a prisoner in Changi for three years.)
Happier Than Before is set 14 years later and imagines a relatively positive future for each of them.
The title is from the WB Yeats poem "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death", which I'm putting here for my future reference:
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
If you've read the book, don't miss this story!
Hornblower litverse: On Land and At Sea 8,300 words
If you can suspend disbelief long enough to envisage Hornblower, Bush and Barbara in a threesome, this is the story for you! I managed to do that, and found it very easy to imagine Hornblower being turned on by compliments about his abilities.
"You needn't thank me," said Hornblower. "And don't call me sir." He tingled whenever Bush called him sir in bed, and that was reason enough to forbid it. It would be disastrous if he were to make any associations between standard naval formality and this.
Barbara shifted so she was at Bush's back, propping him up with her body. "Don't listen to him," she murmured in Bush's ear, still loud enough that Hornblower could hear every word clear as a bell. "He likes it when you address him with the respect that he's earned."
Bush grinned. "Don't I know it?"
Hornblower frowned and sped up his hand a little. Bush's hips jerked, and his head fell back on Barbara's shoulder, eyes slipping closed.
"Tell him," said Barbara. "Tell him he's earned it."
"Every bit of it," gasped Bush. "Every promotion, every honor, earned with sweat and blood and daring. There's not a man who's served with you who doesn't know your worth."
Hornblower shuddered, caught between shame and pleasure as his mind tried to counter-argue the compliments.