Part the Ninety Fifth: The Loss of a Member
“I’m not sure the decorations on these muskets add any value to them.” Campbell gave his assessment to Hope, who was assisting him in taking stock of the booty brought aboard. “At least not out here; back in Spain, perhaps.”
“Why would he need such fancy muskets, this De Colera?” Hope asked.
“Perhaps he’s not expecting them,” he said as he handed the musket back to go below. “It is possible that someone there is giving them to him as a gift. The ornate quality of barrel etchings suggests they could be a token.”
“All the muskets have that styling, though.”
“It must be quite some gift. This man must have done something to merit such generous-”
The scream Hope heard snapped her head to the right violently. She looked over just as she recognized the cry had come from Akua.
She saw two men holding him down. One of the men had his knees down on the stub of Akua’s arm; Hope could see shards of bone extending from the stump through the layers of cloth they’d used to staunch the bleeding.
“Did this man not have enough drink in him?” Surgeon Samuels asked Osei. Both of them were beside Akua and the sailors, Samuels holding a needle and thread with a look of frustration. “How am I to affect a proper surgery if he keeps moving? Until he stops I cannot apply a ligature.”
Osei spoke to Akua in the dialect they alone shared, the commanding tone unmistakable even if Hope had no prayer for understanding the words. Osei’s look alone should have forced anyone to be perfectly still, Hope thought.
Instead, Akua continued to protest, yelling loudly as fear drove him mad. The two men over him nearly flew off from the force of the struggle.
“Permit me,” said Osei as he came close beside Akua and placed a rolled up cloth in his mouth. He motioned to him that they should keep their eyes locked on each others’ as he took Akua’s remaining hand in both of his. As Osei concentrated, the panic subsided.
“Deus constans meus manus manus,” Samuels said as he got to work. First he took the needle and started sewing into Akua’s arm. When he finished, he removed the cloth over the stub, watching for a moment as the flow of blood slowed.
Samuels then started to remove the stub, an inch above where the hand was blown away, with a heavy metal saw blade. Hope could not look away as Samuels sawed into the arm. Unlike all the other carnage she had seen, the clearing of the stub was neat by comparison, the saw methodically going back and forth with a slight grinding noise as a piece of Akua the size of a turnip was removed.
When Samuels put down the bone saw and nodded over to where the burner was lit, where cauters were being heated and readied to apply to the stump, Hope could not continue to watch and retreated to Abigail’s cabin.
Hope stared out the window off the stern, trying to gather her wits about her. Before she could finish, she heard the ward room door open and shut behind her.
“Are you feeling well?” Charity asked.
Hope could not read well the look in her eyes…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan