Part the One Hundred Tenth: Hope Is In Hot Water
Hope’s head started to slide under the water.
She blew bubbles when it reached her nose, pleasantly tickling her nostrils as she did so.
She leaned her head back far enough to let the water from her bath cover her ears. Only now in the isolation, with only her heartbeat audible, did she realize how constant the sound of water had been around her. The sound of cresting water being cut by the hull of the Raging Gale, the lapping of waves on shore at the Cay and Tortuga, all of that was now silenced.
As she let the warm water relax her entire body, she started to miss the sound of water. After being a constant presence in her life since she left England, the sudden loss of this background rhythm felt strange to her, and she was sorry she was now denied this comforting cadence.
Silenced by water, Hope realized with a laugh. She raised her head from the bath and shook her head like a dog drying off, then stood up to better clean herself.
She was so intent in scrubbing her body with a wash linen that by the time she realized she was not alone in the yard behind the Blue Dolphin where tub had been set up the other person behind her bumped into the vat…
Hope gave a startled sound after she turned to face the other person, grabbing the sheet for drying herself when she saw it wasn’t one of the serving maids with a hot rock for the water.
She looked at Hope, as surprised as she was at finding someone in the tub.
“Oh,” said Elise, “you are compagnon du bateau de Goddard, right?”
Hope lowered herself back into the water and moved the board that was placed over the tub as a ledge to give her someplace to hide.
Elise laughed. “I take it when you serve aboard the Gale you do not provide comfort, then?”
“No, I don’t-” Hope stopped herself before she finished.
“There is no insult taken, I have been accused of worse than whatever you were about to say.”
“I don’t mean to cause insult. I do not want to be rude.”
“Don’t concern yourself with it,” said Elise as she took a rag and dipped it in Hope’s bath water, then started to wash her face and hands with it.
“Do you… enjoy what you do? If I may ask?”
“That’s une question impaire, that.”
“I knew- know someone who was once.”
Elise shook her head with a smile. “I can’t imagine any woman enjoying this work. It’s not a position one takes willingly.”
“I gather that, but, how?”
“Bad luck more than anything else. Maybe sin as well, though I’d not thought I’d done anything that horrible.”
“What possible sin could you have committed to end up here?” Hope asked.
“Leaving the convent, I suppose.”
Hope’s involuntary slump into the tub nearly put her head under water again…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan