Part 103

Part the One Hundred Third:  Remembering the Conflict

 

 

“You were a cabin boy at war?” Hope asked Zoutman.  Saying such words while lying on the beach in Tortuga, the sun warming her backside, took on an unreal atmosphere.

 

Ja, against the English in the Channel,” he said.  “Our ship was a merchant with twelve guns, not that big but with enough fight to matter.  Keep some of their fishermen out of our waters, be alongside the bigger ships when needed, all for the war.”

 

Hope flattened her arms against the sand and took the same position Zoutman did, not caring about the sand going down the front of her blouse.  “I suppose you saw all sorts of action,” she asked.

 

Nr, not really.  If a ship was smaller than us, we’d board her without a fight, and if she had ten or more guns we’d run.  We were after what we could without too much trouble, everything our privateering license allowed.”

 

“It sounds like you went on the account back then.  Did you haul any major treasures?”

 

“A few holds full of herring and some plates,” Zoutman said with a laugh.  “We were very successful at that, and we let everyone know it.”

 

“How?”

 

“The smell of all those fish got us kicked out of many an inn,” he said with laugh.

 

Despite herself, Hope laughed as well.  Between the warmth of both the sun and his company, she smiled, not want to leave this beach ever again.

 

“So will you be doing anything in Cayonne with Charity?” he asked.

 

Hope stopped smiling at that.  “I don’t know.  She may be going off here to head elsewhere.”

 

“Did she say that to you?”

 

Hope tried to find something to say to cover that she hadn’t spent much time talking to Charity since she had admitted her feelings for her, beyond a few necessary courtesies.

 

“I’d have thought the two of you, well-”

 

“The two of us what?” Hope shot up on her elbows at that.

 

“I mean, two young women alone, it would make more sense for there to be safety in numbers, recht?”

 

Hope dropped back down into the sand.  She wasn’t sure which hurt worse, the embarrassment at jumping to conclusions or the sudden strain placed on her tired arms.

 

“Actually,” Hope said suddenly from the sand, “there is the captain.”

 

“If she were to have time for you,” he said.

 

“How do you mean?”

 

“If she were to do here as she has done at other shore leaves before, she would look for other captains, seeking information about the waters around here.”

 

“But she seems to know all about the landmarks and currents everywhere,” Hope said.

 

Ja, but not who’s been on them recently or what’s been going on ashore.  Flows of goods from east to west, what is happening ashore at those ports in between, all of this is what captains seek when they get on land.”

 

“So she’s going to be talking to other captains.  She might want along someone to help her, run her errands or-”

 

Hope was cut off by Zoutman’s unexpected laugh at her plans.

 

“And just what is funny about that?” she asked.

 

“You’re suggesting demoting yourself to cabin boy.”

 

Hope blew a fine jet of sand off the beach with the corner of her mouth.

 

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