Part the Eighty Second: Remembrance and Regrets
Hope took a deep breath. Despite the shock at finding out that Charity was now going to be sharing the captain’s cabin with her, she wanted to share something with Abigail, something she’d avoided sharing with anyone until now.
“No, no, she… My aunt wasn’t well. She’d been in London through the year, but she avoided the plague as she saw to her family there.”
Hope looked closely at Abigail to see if she would recoil at mention of the plague. She was so used to seeing people shriek if the word was barely whispered, and she expected no less from Abigail despite watching her face swords, muskets and cannons head-on. When Hope saw no signs of fear her face, she continued:
“She watched her husband and the rest of her family fall to it, but the strain of that time claimed her as sure as if she had gotten it the same. She showed no signs of the disease at all but was tired out to the point of death as it took her slowly. We spent a fortnight expecting to break out in it as well when she…”
“Was she a favorite aunt of yours?” Abigail asked her finally.
Hope nodded, trying to fight back a tear that she felt would be of no good now before the crew assembly that decided Charity’s fate. With so much else going on, it seemed to her to be the wrong time for that.
Abigail sighed. “We have time enough to talk of such things later as ye like. For now, if ye had once spent time in that manner, then yer ready to spend a few nights with another doomed soul, with what may well happen to Charity.”
“What might they decide to do?” Hope asked.
“Hard to say. Their patience for yet another lass among them may not be great enough for her as well, and the way in which she carried herself before this might place them against her, not wanting to trust her much.”
“So then what?”
Abigail sighed. “We be knowing better when I put the matter before them, once they’ve had a round or three first. Speaking of which, where are van Herck and the rest?”
Hope only now started to realize that the drink from below hadn’t come on deck by now, and just noticed how late the men sent for it were before the rest of the crew started to look around.
“Mister Kelly,” Osei commanded, “please see as to the delay with the men tasked to bring the rumbullion.”
As Kelly went below, Charity emerged from the captain’s cabin. She appeared before the crew in a new shirt, but this time with chest and hair unbound, not trying to disguise herself.
“Sink me,” Abigail cursed. “I told her to wait until the matter was discussed. Her fool impatience could have her marooned if she does something stupid now.”
Before Charity was allowed to do that, Kelly emerged from below screaming. “We’re taking on water!” he called. “The others noticed the water and are trying to find the hole!”
Hope felt her heart stop. She imagined that the voyage was ending not just for Charity, but everyone else as well…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan