Part the Ninety Ninth: Her Father’s Sins
“So you are telling me,” said Charity as the last of the sun’s rays filled the ward room of the Gale, “that I tried to woo a virgin?”
“Oh don’t talk of it in that way!” Hope insisted, the shame burning her from within so hot that it threatened to leave her clothes a singed pile of rags around her feet. The brief idea of being naked before Charity made her embarrassment even harder to bear…
“Of all the… How could I have been so stupid to do that?”
“It’s not like I went around telling everyone on this ship! I didn’t spend my time on board letting them all know I had never been wooed! Would I talk about that with anyone aboard?”
“Not one person knows this?”
“Only Abigail,” Hope admitted.
“Why did you confide in her with this?”
“She guessed it! The same way she was able to tell you were in disguise the minute she saw you!”
Charity stood there, mouth agape.
“You yourself said she was brilliant,” Hope added.
“Oui, true. But… no one, ever, before…?”
Hope sighed. “Not a one. My father was very protective, after the county shunned our family. His sympathies were with the King, though he recanted them after the war and kept his peace thereafter. I had not heard him discuss anything other than day-to-day affairs until the new King Charles claimed the throne. I think my mother and he assumed I was never to marry, such were our prospects.”
“You mean, there were no playmates, no amoureux potentials whatsoever?” Charity asked.
“It was not until a few years ago, with the King’s return, that I would find much company outside my parents and what servants were willing to be under my father’s employ. By then my parents were desperate to have me taught in the ways of a lady, which my aunt was kind enough to help with. She was able to arrange for some of the best tutors she could encourage to come from London to provide lessons.”
“Including music, no?”
“Those were some of the best of times,” Hope said with a smile. “My music master was a kindly old man who encouraged me to play as often as possible, try as much as I could with my voice and on the keyboard. He also gave me a cittern with which I passed many an hour.”
“And yet despite such finishing you were en route to the New World, where I understand there are peu de bonnes perspectives, no?”
“What could be done? There was a chance to start anew after all the unpleasantness back home, and…” Hope trailed off.
“Oui?” Charity finally asked.
“No. Those are my father’s arguments. That’s what he would say if he were asked. I would never have said yes, no matter the reason.”
“So you are of a different mind than your father, then?”
“Yes,” said Hope. “I am finding myself very much my own person.”
“Willing to consider… other possibilities…”
Hope took a moment to collect her thoughts…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan