Part 211

Part the Two Hundred Eleventh: The Recipient of Charity

Hope wasn’t sure if she was glad that Samuel accompanied her out of Don Hernando’s house with the castellan.

On the one hand, his deferential approach to the elderly man who had refused to acknowledge her was galling.  She could not bring herself to speak to him as they walked the streets of Port Royal.

On the other, having him here at all regardless was enough.  And part of her hoped that given a chance, when he no longer needed to negotiate with Don Hernando or anyone else, that he would be more likely to-

She stopped herself from continuing that thought.

The three of them found themselves at an inn on Lime Street.  The main room was filled with a large collection of sea dogs and those who both served them and dined on them. Their attire and behavior was almost as colorful as their language, cries and curses punctuating the din.

While the castellan sought out the master of the house, Samuel turned to Hope and said, “I have to apologize for what’s happened.  I would prefer that you were better treated than this-”

She put her finger to his lips, not wanting to hear any excuses.  She pressed hard on his lips, then softly drew her finger over them in a circle.

She watched his face, heard him inhale a short breath and saw his eyes crinkle at the corners while his lips trembled at her touch.

Satisfied, she replied, “I can forgive many things, so long as what you do now is out of exceptional circumstances. I will be very distressed should this happen again.”

She looked deep into his eyes, and was glad to see that he did not turn from her gaze.

“I believe Ezekiel has made the arrangements,” Samuel said when she finally released him, noting the castellan coming forward with the master of the house.

“So this young lady is the one?” the master asked.

“Yes,” said Samuel, “and she is to be well taken care of.  Anything she wants, she is to have.  Room, meals, and your word of protection and courtesy,” and with that he produced a small bag.

The master took the bag, looked inside as he probed it with his fingers and said, “M’lady,” to Hope with a slight bow.

“And we’ll need proper attire for the lady, too,” said Samuel.  “The next time I come to call, she will have been provided with more than just these rags.”

“Decency I can provide, but the height of fashion may be harder to secure.”

“Please,” said Hope, “just the basics, for now.  You have been very kind,” she gave a curtsey to Samuel, “and need not go beyond the basics.”

“Then her care is now in your hands,” said Samuel, “until next I return.”

As Samuel and Ezekiel took their leave, Hope was directed towards the fire where a pot of stew was being warmed.  The master nodded to the serving girl, who served Hope a bowl.

As she took a seat on a bench by the fire, she felt a nudge as a man behind her stopped short and asked another woman, “So lass, what’d it take to board ye?”

The response from the woman brought the stew in Hope’s stomach back up into her mouth…

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