Part the Eighty First: A Change Is Made Aboard Ship
It was nearly noon before Abigail emerged from the captain’s cabin. The fact that she had not been at her normal post, atop the quarterdeck with her hands on the till, did not raise much suspicion among the rest of the crew that Hope could see. She watched her climb the stairs to the quarterdeck and receive a briefing from Osei before discussing some point out of hearing.
When their meeting was over, Mister Campbell sounded the watch bell seven strokes, which got the crew’s attention. “We’ll be having an assembly,” said Sanders aloud. “Mister van Herck, take with ye Mesnil and Andrews and bring us up more rumbullion; we’ll be needing some spirits with this one.”
Hope came up to Sanders and asked, “Is this about Charity?”
“I’d rather be waiting to discuss the matter more fully among the assembled, if you don’t mind,” said Abigail. “This is something of a delicate matter, and it be best the crew discuss in the open.”
“You can’t just decide on your own about her?”
“If I be full master of this vessel like the lords of the prizes we pick, I’d have done and they’d have to accept. But that’s not our way, as ye know; this is a matter that requires all affected hands to have their say.”
“And if they didn’t have their say?”
Abigail took in a deep breath. “On one matter, they have no say, anf that I should tell ye before the full matter of Charity’s decided.”
“Whatever fate befalls her, whether she be tossed at the next port, set off on some vessel we allow passage after we sack her, or worse, until then she is placed in the cabin with us.”
Hope felt the blood rush to her feet faster than her bile fled to her mouth last night.
Abigail sharpened her look in response to Hope’s obvious reaction. “Now see here; I’ll not be having her below deck with the other men much as I kept you in the captain’s cabin for the same reason, for it’d be like tossing a fish into a room full of cats. It’s more for the sake of the crew than anything else, and I’m certain you can share a chamber with her as you do me.”
Hope didn’t say anything, just looked down at Abigail’s boots as she tried to not show her upset.
“Surely you can share a chamber with more than one person, can’t ye? Think of it as having all your sisters about you again, once more sharing a single room.”
“I had no sisters,” said Hope as she continued to look down.
“Well, certainly other relatives with ye when they were about, cousins and the like.”
“No, no one. We don’t have much family back home.”
“What, not a one?” asked Abigail. “Ye never shared a chamber with anyone in your entire life?”
“My aunt,” Hope blurted out. “I spent some time with my aunt, to attend to her. When she came to us, last year, before she-” Hope clamped down hard on her jaw.
Abigail put a hand on Hope’s shoulder. “That be something that brings you pain, I shan’t ask more of ye about it.”
Hope looked at Abigail, trying to open up to her despite everything…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan