Part the One Hundred Thirty First: The Horrid Truth Revealed
Zoutman called, “Veldheer vertrekken!” and like waves suddenly forming on calm seas, the deck of the Raging Gale changed unexpectedly from men tending their vessel to armed opponents, with more joining them from out the hatches and the cabin.
Those men on the Gale closest to the gangway started down the incline to the sloop’s deck, while others tightened the ring around their visitors. The master and his crew went from being at ease to being very nervous, encouraged by the pistol Abigail leveled at them.
“Clever lad,” said Abigail to the Englishman who first realized he and his crew were in danger. “Ye figured that out all by yerself now?”
“Well- I did see your hostage here, and it reminded me of the tales I’d heard.”
“And what of my family?” Hope asked. “What news have you of them?”
“None, I’m afraid. I do not know if any kin of yours are there.”
“Not a good sign, that,” said Abigail. “They’d be present if they meant to pay, which would be far less than the billet for hiring men to take us.”
“At least they have men hunting for you, no?” asked Charity.
Hope asked despite the knot forming in her stomach, “What can you tell me of the men they hired?”
“I know not. Indeed, I heard nothing about any men who have been retained to seek you.”
Hope looked down, trying not to let the hurt overtake her-
The explosion from the sloop pulled her of her gloom like a bird of prey snatching a rodent.
She turned towards the sound and caught a brief glimpse of one of the sloop’s crew holding a blunderbuss he’d fired at the boarding party from the Gale. She had no time to see who held the weapon or whether he hit anyone before he disappeared behind a cloud of gun smoke from weapons on the Gale’s deck that were fired in response. All she heard was the sound of his body hitting the deck.
She wasn’t sure who moved next on the deck of the Gale. It was hard to tell in the commotion of the returning fire if Abigail had threatened the hostages, or if they tried to rush her in a desperate stab at freedom.
What resulted was quite clear, though: In a flash, the knife Charity concealed behind her fan was revealed in her hand, and soon after the blade entered the gut of the sloop’s Englishman. She pressed hard into him and twisted, the blood from his wound spraying between them high enough to come down on their heads. She gave a further twist before she leaned into him to leverage her knife out of his stomach.
The sloop’s master stood there agape at the carnage. When he finally regained his wits, he croaked out, “Wij zitten ter uw goedertierenheid,” tears forming in his eyes.
Hope could not stop staring at Charity, the blood of her victim covering the dress she had loaned her, tightly clinging to her like a second skin.
Charity acknowledged her attention with, “Pas à tracasser, I know plenty of ways to get this stain out.”
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan