Part the One Hundred Fourteenth: The Brawl
Hope continued to sneak glances into her looking glass while eating at the Blue Dolphin, in between grabbing her squab to take a bite from its breast.
Every so often, she would look into her purchase, glancing at the reflection of her face for the first time since she left England. She wondered if going on the account was something that could be noted on sight by everyone she left behind, whether her life of piracy was now like a mark of Cain, announcing that she had taken up the trade.
Hope looked again in the mirror and tried to imagine the expression on Uncle James’ face if he could see her. Dismay? Anger? Enough shock to petrify him as though Hope were a Gorgon?
The last thought struck Hope as so funny, she made as horrid a face as she could to see if she could turn anyone to stone with her visage. The results were more likely to lead to laughs than statues, though, so she made another horrid face, trying to top the one before, then continued to make comedic expressions.
By the time Hope realized that a sailor on the other side of her table had been mimicking her faces, it was too late to say anything that might have helped.
“Oy!” said a sea dog to that sailor’s right. “You don’ go and do that when I talk to you ser’ous like!”
The sailor who was imitating Hope was too drunk to change his expression fast enough. He turned to the sea dog in mid-funny face making a noise more of a gurgle than anything else.
The sea dog’s anger growled as he pulled his man up and started to shake him.
The ale in the tankard in that sailor’s hand flew like sea spray into the face of another diner, a rover with an eye patch who rose swinging at the assault.
The rover landed two blows on two men beside him, one of whom went face first into a serving girl with a fully loaded tray. Like grape shot over the deck, flecks of food and drink sprayed those gathered.
At the first sign of trouble, some in the common room egged it on, giving cheers for the potential conflict the way thunder announces a coming squall. A few men even rose to their feet and, believing a fight to be on, actually started the melee.
By the time Hope registered what her faces hath wrought, there was time enough only to stash her looking glass away and grab her squab. She rose from the table in time to avoid a flailing seaman falling over her seat.
Hope moved on, looking for an exit from the expanding martial chaos. To her left, a sea dog pulled a knife and brandished it before two salts who tried to circle the man. Directly in front of her, two sailors grappled each other, each man calling for help and getting it from an ally joining the growing pile of bodies. To her right, pairs of privateers swung at each other with their fists, maneuvering around each other like couples engaging in allemandes without music.
Hope felt she would soon be roped into the riot, in combat against her wishes…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan