Part 31

Part the Thirty First: Hope Plays For Her Life

Osei turned his attention to Hope and shouted, “Can ye give us a rhythm, musician?”

“My- what?” asked Hope.”If you can play something to keep us focused and in time with the chase, now be the time for it!  Can you do what a drum can for that?”

Hope felt the air in her throat harden as if a piece of apple were caught in it.

“We be needing something to keep the men in beat!  What of a hard strum, then?”

Hope recovered from receiving Osei at his sternest and went for her cittern.  She looked at her stringed instrument and wondered how she could make it sound like a drum…

Hope plucked a note at the upper end of the scale, then did another one lower.  She plucked the two notes, up, down, up, down, in a rhythm.

“Can ye make that twice as fast?” Osei asked her.

Hope complied; up, down, up, down, up, down.

“Make it louder than that and give us that rhythm until otherwise said!” Osei commanded before he turned and shouted to the crew, “Keep to her in time, now!  One!  Two!  One!  Two!”

Hope played as Osei asked, up, down.  One, two.  Up, down!  One, two!

The duet continued for a ways until Hope noticed the men were hoisting the rigging and leaning into their tasks in time with her notes.  One, two!  Heave, ho!  One, two!  Heave, ho!

By then, Osei went from calling the dance to turning his attention to the individual tasks of the men.  Hope continued to offer the music the men paced themselves by, playing beyond the pain in her fingers, trying to stay with the notes on the rhythm.

With the rhythm she played driving the men onward, the Raging Gale made the most of her lead.  Between Osei’s oversight of each man at his station doing his part and Captain Sanders’ giving the till her full attention to track with the strongest breezes of the wind, Hope was able to see the outline of the sun painted on the Casa‘s sails in the light of the setting sun.

The men worked on, not allowing fatigue to get the better of them.  Hope played on as well, despite the reddening of her fingers, the sheer pain each hard pluck of the cittern sent screaming up her hand.

Over her music she heard Osei scream, “Mister Andrews! Look sharp man, you’re flagging on the rigging!”

Andrews leaned into it harder, using all his weight to secure the line he was holding on the square rig.

But as Hope looked over the stern of the Raging Gale, she watched the Casa del Sol still follow her from the horizon.  Her bow rose and fell as did the Gale‘s, and her sails filled as they did on Hope’s ship.

“Don’t let your crew down!  We all be depending on you!”  Osei admonished Andrews before he turned to see how the rest of the hands were doing.

Hope could easily apply his admonishment to her; visions of hanging from the yardarm filled her head as she played.  Hope played as the men worked and Osei commanded; she played as though her life depended on it…  

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All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan




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