Part 212

Part the Two Hundred Twelfth: Sighted and Boarded

Hope nearly choked on her stew as she overheard the sailor behind her propositioning another woman.

“You think enough of mes pommes to take a bite?” she responded.

Hope couldn’t believe what she heard!

“Aye, ye have a fine pair there,” the man acknowledged.

“And do you have what I need for you to be able to shake the tree for them?”

“Eh …wha-?”

Hope could hear that she whispered to him, but not what.  She assumed right away what was being proposed, if she was right about-

 “You want how much for plucking those apples, lass?” he responded.

“Fine! Find someone else, you cheap charogne!

Hope was sure of what she heard now!  She spun around to confirm-

Her stew flew out of her lap, splayed across the floor.  The man who nudged her flayed his arms in surprise, pushing over the woman whose price he didn’t agree to.

The woman grabbed desperately for any support as she tripped over the bench.  She latched onto Hope’s shoulders, and suddenly the two of them went down together to the floor.

Between the bump to her head on the floor and the face that floated above her, Hope wasn’t sure which was the greater shock…

The other woman tightened her grip on Hope’s shoulders, pinning her to the floor as she bore down on her.  The snarl on her face started to shift as she took a look at who was under her.

“H-H-Hope?” she asked.

“Charity?” she replied.  “Is it really you?”

Charity took her hands off her, though she continued to straddle Hope’s legs.  She stared with amazement as Hope propped herself up on her elbows, before she started to break out into a strained laugh.

Hope watched as Charity’s hands went to her face while the laughter intensified, looking as though she were trying to hold her head together.  Briefly she wondered if she was about to go mad in a violent and messy manner…

The master of the house grabbed Charity by her hair and pulled her off Hope.  “So you’re causing still more trouble here!” he bellowed as he heaved her up, nearly taking her head off her body as he raised her off the floor with one hand.

“Stop!” Hope cried as she scrambled to her feet.

He looked at her with incredulity.

“This woman,” Hope continued, “she kept me from falling in the fire.  Had it not been for her, I’d be roasted like a pig by now.”

“What, this trouble-maker?” he asked.  “I’ve had complaints about her since she started coming ‘round last night.”

“Good sir, did you not promise your word of courtesy?”

“Aye, but I-”

“Then it would do me courtesy to spare her,” Hope quickly added, “as she has saved my life.”

“But- but the trouble she’s been!”

“Then if there is a room ready, I will retire to it in her company, so as to keep her from the affairs of your other guests.”

The master huffed while reddening, looking between the two of them before releasing Charity with exasperation.  “Aye, I’ll see to.  But if she causes any more trouble…” he started, letting his wagging finger finish for him.

“I appreciate your kindness, good sir, and will see that she does not.”

Charity just stared at Hope…

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