Part 46

Part the Forty Sixth: The Bomb and the Sea Artist

The smoke spat from the line of gunpowder Captain Sanders had set on the deck with pops and hisses. The sound of the powder burning almost caused Hope’s heart to stop beating, but raised muffled cries coming from within the French merchant’s captain quarters.
The arguments behind the murder hole got louder, while some of the Gale’s crew took advantage of the panic and moved before the barred door without fear of getting shot. The powder seemed to burn faster the louder the arguments got…
When it came, the explosion seemed to Hope softer than Collins’ broadside but brighter than a rising sun. When her sight returned, however, all sound seemed muffled to her as though it were a winter morning. The way the crew of the Gale charged past the motes where the door had been, she considered it a slight blessing to not hear the slaughter. The only sign of horror within was the thin fountain of blood that shot out from the hole for a second.
Hope tried to ignore the ringing that was replacing the still silence as Sanders and her crew emerged from the last bastion of the French and returned to the Gale. Campbell, Saxe, Kelly and Soubise carried a chest from the French captain’s quarters and brought it to the Gale’s deck.

“This be what those men felt they had to die for, eh?” asked Collins as he got a good look at the chest.

“That and these,” said Sanders as she carried under her arm two rolled map cases. “When we be finished scrounging her,” she said to Osei, “cast off and inform me then. I be wanting to get a start on these.”

As Sanders went to her cabin, Hope watched with a puzzled look. “After all that,” she said before she could catch herself, “she’s going to her cabin with…”

“Those are charts and rutters,” Osei answered her. “What makes her such a great sea artist is her ability to not only know her chart, but to remember it as well.”

“A ‘sea artist’?”

“A sea artist is one who can plot a course to follow over a wide expanse, one that can get a ship there quickly and in one piece. It was this potential ability that Captain Dyck saw in her that made him trust her so, and made her even more valuable once we lost him.”

Hope’s lips parted as the realization came to her. “So that’s why you suggested her as captain,” she said in a lower voice, trying not to let slip any confidence. “Because you knew she’d be good at getting you from one place to another.”

Osei replied in lowered tones, “Would that her navigation be all she needed. Her fierceness in leading a fight, alone too, would have made her a formidable seaman.”

“But then, to be where she is, she needs both.”

Osei nodded in agreement, and left Hope to consider this as more booty came aboard the Gale. Within her, admiration for Abigail’s abilities warred with indignity at how unfairly she was being judged by others for Hope’s attention…

Before one feeling could claim that prize, there was a commotion from the French hulk, the sound of men crying in alarm and blades clashing with blades…

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All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan



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