Part the One Hundred Twenty Sixth: The Troubling Sea Dog
When it hit her four days out of Tortuga, Hope was in between fantasies.
Ever since they set sail, she performed a morning set from two bells to eight before the mainmast. She preferred this over the afternoon set, also from two to eight bells, by which time her fingers and voice were sore from the playing. She was grateful that come the evening the men could be amused with knucklebones and telling tall tales to each other, not sure that she could give them a third set into the evening.
During the morning set Charity would holystone the decks. Every morning she would take up the task the same way, working towards the bow from the cabin, mostly alongside Owen and Mesnil. This was the only time Hope would see her between rising in the morning and supper before all three women retired to the captain’s cabin.
The fourth day out, soon after seven bells, she finished a piece and took a moment to flex her fingers. From her seat by the mast she watched Abigail on the quarterdeck going back and forth between her spyglass and backstaff, scanning the horizon after each check of her position. Above her, Herbert, Saxe and Goor were in the mainmast’s shrouds, trimming the main sail.
As she rolled her head, she noticed Charity had stopped scouring, bracing on her arms over her holystone like a dog waiting for scraps. Hope could not help drawing comparisons between her and a spaniel at the end of a long table, the way her eyes looked at her, her hair framing her face like a spaniel’s ears. She almost imagined she could hear some whines, soon to be followed by barking…
The moment their eyes met, though, Charity quickly put her head down and worked the decks to make them splinter free. But the image of a dog waiting for her chance couldn’t be dispelled, her arms pushing the holystone looking like paws being extended while her tail started to-
“There you are,” Mister Collins suddenly said to Charity. “I’ve been waiting for you to finish up and get below. If you’re going to run powder and shot to the guns as you said you could, you best be able to prove to my satisfaction that you can.”
“Are we to fire the guns as well?” Charity asked.
“Yes, at that sloop-eyed albatross that’s been following us for two days,” he said with a wide smile before he yelled, “And when we have no powder for a real threat, we can thank you for that suggestion! Now off with you!”
“Bu évidemment,” Charity replied as she rose from her stone and headed for the hatch.
“I hope you’re a faster runner than that Andrews was,” he added under his breath.
Hope froze when she realized what was happening. Her throat and fingers both cramped simultaneously.
The image of Charity as a dog was finally banished from Hope’s mind, to be replaced by a substitution far more troubling…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan