Part the One Hundred Forty Fifth: The Quiet History
“You’re sure you want to do this?” Osei asked Hope as they worked their way through Arecibo’s market, Hope wiping her hands on her borrowed petticoat.
“And stay with Esteban back at the tavern?” she replied with resolve. “Even if Abigail had her pistol cocked and at his head the whole time, I would not trust him.”
“And yet your hands sweat like a thief’s on the verge of being caught.”
“But we are- I mean…” she tried to keep her voice down.
“Well, the less you look and act like one, the less the chance there is of anyone catching you.” His admonition carried the same tone as the comment he’d made about being a slave once more.
Frustrated again by that, she decided to focus on the here and now. “I’m surprised these people haven’t already summoned the watch for us. You and I together, two strangers in this town-”
“Everyone is a stranger in port,” he cut her off. “Even among the tight trading Spanish, enough souls spend only a brief time where ships come to anchor that two unfamiliar faces would not be noticed.”
“Do you think this ruse will really work, passing for a recently arrived colonist with you as my servant if anyone asks?”
“Yes, you might pas for a colono if you tried diciendo Español.”
“But my-” Hope stopped herself to reply in a much lower voice, “My Spanish is not so refined.”
“Then act like a socio and feign disinterest while I do all the talking on your behalf.”
“ You’d… I mean, I couldn’t make you do that.”
“You would not be the first lady to use me that way,” he said, again in that tone.
“Stop that! You keep discussing things in your past in such a manner that is disturbing. You suggest something abominable at times when bringing up your past.”
“And only now, this far on, do you think to ask how I came to this point?”
The only clue Hope had that her jaw had fallen open was Osei finally using two fingers to put it back where it belonged.
“We will speak more of that later,” he said, “after we have kept an eye on the market to make sure all the Guarda are where Esteban said they would be, and that they stay here while the stores are smuggled out of town.”
“In broad daylight?”
“Anytime you wish to discuss the matter is fine by me.”
“No, no,” said Hope, “I mean taking the stores to the ship in broad daylight.”
“Which would appear a lot less suspicious than doing so after the market has emptied. So long as these socios are willing to keep their business to themselves, we can be done and out of here as soon as we are patched and loaded.”
A few moments went by before Hope said, “I’m sorry.”
“And what did you do now?”
“Not speaking with you before now. That was my fault, and now I feel bad for-”
Osei placed two fingers under her chin again. “Not now. Look.”
Hope followed his eyes, watching as the Guarda in the square awakened to some hidden alarm and moved together.
”That’s a bad omen, isn’t it?” she asked him.
He said nothing as the watch of Arecibo gathered…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan