Part the Eighty Fifth: Hope and Charity
For all the dire scenarios Hope had played out in her mind before this moment, the real prospect of the voyage ending left her with no reaction.
She stared out over the blue water on all sides of the Raging Gale, her gaze blankly going over everything, settling on nothing. She thought-
“Are you not playing any more today?” Charity asked Hope.
“Uh- Sorry?” Hope replied.
“You are going to provide musique pour le bateau, no?”
“Oh, I… I’m just stunned at the venture coming to an end, is all.”
“That’s very unusual,” said Charity as she looked at Hope’s cittern. “Most men at sea cannot wait to disembark. Long voyages make them want to get ashore et faites vite une scène.”
“You learned that from your time as a man, I take it?”
Charity laughed. “Very precious, that retort. I should like to use it some time.”
Hope resumed her position on the deck and started to play. Charity took a spot on the deck next to her, nodding along in time with the tune.
Hope managed to play two fantasies for the crew before she stopped and asked Charity, “Are you sure you’re not in anyone’s way here on the deck?”
“Am I in yours?” Charity replied.
Hope sighed and continued to play, giving the crew three more fantasies.
As she completed the third, she noticed Andrews had once again been paying attention to her. He ignored Akua, who was asking him to comment on how well he was swabbing the deck, and looked over at Hope between half-hearted pushes on his holystone.
“Has he been like that since you joined the crew?” Charity asked Hope. “Staring at you with those yeux affamés?”
Hope gave him only a small glance this time, trying not to stare at him. She sighed and replied, “Almost since the first day I came aboard.”
“And did you know he would be like this before you joined up, or only after?”
“I had no idea at all I’d be here.” Despite herself, Hope continued, “I was taken captive.”
“Très intéressant,” said Charity. “Tell me more.”
Hope settled for just random chords on the cittern as she obliged. “I was on my way to Carolina. The rest of my family went ahead, to get the plantation in order, and I stayed with my Uncle James until he could come as well.”
“Unusual arrangement, no?”
“I had- I had been with…” Hope stopped playing. “I had been with my aunt in her final days, and my uncle had to tend to the last details after she passed. I was hysterical after that, and my father thought me not fit for travel, so my uncle cared for me. He meant to bring me over at the first chance, and a few months later we made our voyage. And during the trip, the Gale claimed my ship, and I became a hostage.”
“For a hostage, you are certainly taking your predicament well, no?”
“It got better when I signed the Articles.”
Charity laughed, a light laugh free of derision. “You are une femme étonnante, Hope,” she said as she took her hand in her own.
Hope too her hand back and resumed playing.
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan