Part the Eightieth: Hope Tries to Carry On
Hope’s hands were steadier than her stomach the next morning. She wished her playing did not reflect how empty she felt since her adventure with the rumbullion, and the fact that the crew went about their duties without protest to her seemed to grant her that boon. None of them held her to account for not playing her best.
The crew continued on as though yesterday had not happened. Osei was consulting with Campbell as to how the bell watch was being conducted, making sure his sand ran well in his hourglass. Above her, Herbert and Saxe were trimming the topsail on the mainmast. Andrews and Owen were doing their best to show Akua how to use a holystone to swab the deck. Andrews’ limited patience and grace at the former slave’s inability to take up being a swab was showing as his face became redder and redder.
Hope tried to go on as though what happened yesterday with the galleon, the Casa and Charles-
No, Charity. Charles was gone, Hope had to remind herself, and she was left in his place.
Hope played on as she watched the rest of the crew, able to go on as though nothing happened. She watched them go on as they did after Mangin and Bentinck were both killed. This crew allowed themselves a few moments to say a word or two over the bodies before they were weighted down and cast over the side, followed by a round of drink, before they went back to their stations.
Hope wanted to ask them how they separated themselves from death and allowed so little of their departed ship mates to haunt them. She thought of how she could do so without arousing suspicion about her feelings, where she stood with Charles, how she could discuss him without arousing the resentments Abigail warned her of.
Then Hope thought of whether they could actually help, considering how Charles had never really passed. After he was shot, he was not bound and sent over the edge but given a hammock in the captain’s cabin to tell her story, and the only one that drank to him was Hope, which proved to be a catastrophe. The man Hope knew was no more, had never existed to begin with, leaving her with Charity.
Briefly, Hope wished Charles had left a body to be bound and thrown over the side. She cursed Surgeon Samuels for saving Charity’s life, or at least exposing her while wiping away her disguise.
She imagined what might have been had the shot from the swivel gun been fatal, how Charles’ body could have been weighted before his ugly secret had been known, and watching from the quarterdeck as things closed properly. She debated whether it would be better to look one last time in Charles’ eyes as the body went over the side before being claimed by the sea-
She banished that thought. She wondered if she could imagine such an act and still look at Charity after harboring such dark desires…
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