Return. I shot him. The duel is over

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Greece, Greek
This is from Hornblower, "the even chance" episode. There is a duel on a beach. One of the contestants (Mr. Simpson) cheats by firing on the other contestant (Mr. Hornblower) at the count of two (instead of waiting for "fire"):

  • - (Simpson) Is he dead? Did I kill him?
  • - (Hornblower) No, you did not!
  • - (Judge) Mr. Hornblower, you may return fire at will.
  • - (Simpson) Return. I shot him. The duel is over.
  • - (Judge) You must stand your ground and take fire, Mr. Simpson!

    What exactly is that "Return" on Simpson's second line ???
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  • RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    He is repeating what the judge said, as he does not believe it. (Are you sure there wasn't a question mark after the word, instead of a period?)


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The judge is telling Mr. Hornblower that the duel is not over until he fires. Simpson says return as a question. In other words "What do you mean return fire? I shot him so the duel is over!" In the rules of dueling, each person gets one shot. Mr. Hornblower did not take his shot yet. Mr. Simpson must stay where he is and allow Mr.Hornblower to take a shot at him. When someone shoots at you and you shoot back at them, you return fire.


    Greece, Greek
    It is definitely not toned at all as a question in the audiovisual track and the script I found contains a period, not a question mark - yet, apparently, it's the only way to construe it that makes sense.

    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    Sometimes we repeat something someone has just said to emphasize that what they said is foolish. Instead of a questioning tone, however, we use a flat, deadpan tone of voice to express scorn for what was just said. I remember a scene from the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher:

    Boy 1: I'm offering you a draw. (Extends hand to shake.)
    Champion: You're offering me a draw. You've got to be kidding. (Refuses to accept draw and loses match.)

    Simpson is saying, in effect. "A return? You've got to be kidding me!" but he uses a flat, deadpan tone to express scorn.
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