Part the One Hundred Thirty Second: To Blow the Man Down
“Thankfully, we suffered no losses,” Osei reported to Sanders. He gave her the summation of the aftermath as she emerged from her cabin, after changing back into the attire Hope was more familiar with.
“Not a heavy price paid, then. What was their cargo?” she asked.
“Six hogsheads of sherry and four stone worth of gold.”
“That’s about me, isn’t it?” said Hope softly.
“Eh?” asked Abigail.
“The ransom you demanded, that’s close to seven stone in gold, all the wine and gold together, isn’t it? If my family had actually come for me and were willing to pay you, that would be it, wouldn’t it?”
Abigail sighed before she said to her musician, “Perhaps they be thinking that I’d already killed you, or have sold ye into slavery somewhere. The price of a bad reputation is that sometimes the terror your name inspires makes them assume the worst, and that makes good people think and do things that will not lead to the easy resolution. We be such terrors now, if we came to them with but baskets of bread they’d blow us from the water on sight even if we’d just come by to offer a meal.”
“So to them I’m dead, then,” Hope said with more resignation than anything else.
“Unless what that English had found out was picked up on by the shipmaster,” said Charity, now changed out of the bloody dress as she too emerged from the cabin.
“As to that,” said Sanders as she turned to her. “Ye were very quick with your mouth and blade there. That certainly added to our reputation for being bloodthirsty killers.”
“Oh merci, I’m glad that I-”
“That wasn’t said in thanks. Aye, we do blow the man down as need be, but that was sloppy. Word gets out that we gut ye as soon as talk to ye, then more ships are going to fight first and go down harder than they might have if they thought there’s a chance to see some mercy by quickly striking the colors.”
“But I…” Charity started to say before her protest died the second it left her lips and got caught in her captain’s sharp gaze.
“Ye keep your blade sharp,” she said as she closed in on Charity, almost growling as she spoke, “but ye keep it at your side and best be sure if the time’s right for it. Having room for your kit in the cabin’s no proof from kissing the gunner’s daughter.”
As she turned to take the tiller, Osei spent a moment continuing to stare at Charity. Every firm word Abigail said were nothing compared to the silent eyes of Osei.
By the time he finished with her, Charity could barely move after he turned away. She glanced at Hope looking for instant validation, but finding none she went fore to fetch a holystone, swabbing in silence.
Hope could not move for a good long time until Surgeon Samuels asked, “Shall you at least be dressed more properly this day?”
She looked down at the dress she still wore and wondered if she could ever don it again after this morning’s action…
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