Part the One Hundred Thirteenth: Hope Reflects in the Market
“Seventy doubloons?” Hope asked. “Are you certain?”
“But of course, you could take your business elsewhere, mademoiselle,” said the merchant. “I am sure that if you wait around port long enough another such petite looking glass of this quality may eventually come in, with the possibility that its seller will be more amenable to your lower offer.”
Hope grimaced at the shifty merchant whose wares were laid out atop a table in the market, where she returned after her bath. His sly speech and mannerisms made him look as though he would trade with any and all comers with few questions if it would mean a fatter purse.
A brief thought ran through her head, how if he had met Abigail soon after the Raging Gale had picked her up and knew what her ransom had been, he would have paid the seven stone in gold for Hope if he thought he could get a better price by selling her here…
“Did I not point out, mademoiselle,” the merchant continued, “how sturdy the casing and handle are for shipboard use, yet just the right size to be darling and dainty to hold as you admire yourself. Here, hold it in your hand, feel the balance to it as though it were a goupille. Why, you might even be able to use this to defend yourself aboard ship if hard pressed.”
“And what moves you to make such statements about me?” asked Hope as she tested the looking glass, to see if it were indeed as well-balanced as a belaying pin.
“Because I know all the attractive women on Tortuga, as well as many of the ones that are not so blessed, so I know you are not from here. And I can add with certainty that you are not likely to stay here as well.”
“For one, a proper lady would not be here, she would have her servants or slaves do the purchasing. And an improper one would not be in a position so soon after coming ashore to consider a mirror like this. That and your hands.”
Hope looked at her hands, noticing for the first time some of the calluses she’d gotten since leaving England.
“Funny ones there, on the sides of the thumbs, but the rest of those certainly make them a sailor’s hands, no? “ he continued. “You have been at sea for long?”
“For a bit,” Hope replied, not wanting to say more after the reaction she got from L’Olonnais when she had mentioned Abigail.
“Not so long that you’re buying a mirror instead of drinking and whoring it all away. Mind you, a woman doing that, well…”
As he made a dismissive hand gesture, Hope thought she saw Charity across the market. She glanced about, trying to see for sure.
In doing so she noted Andrews in the crowd. He seemed to have been studying her intently with a long eye when she spied him, but he turned quickly like a deterred thief when he saw her watching him.
If Charity had been there, she was now gone, lost in the same crowd Andrews was using for cover. Hope looked over to where she might have been, then looked down at the mirror.
“How about fifty doubloons?” Hope asked.
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