Part 151

Part the One Hundred Fifty First:  The Parley’s Puppet Protests

 

 

“So what has the captain done to make you so jumpy?”

 

Hope was so startled by Osei’s question that she felt herself pitch over the gunwale.  She looked down, however, and seeing that she was never in danger of going over the side to port turned to face the quartermaster.

 

“You make an interesting observation,” she replied, collecting her composure.  “What led you to believe that, if I may ask?”

 

“The nervous glances up to the quarterdeck between performances.  The problems with tuning your instrument before you begin for the last two days.  The worried glances Charity gives you when you’re not looking.”

 

The last point he presented made Hope straighten up her spine.

 

“It is my business to know what goes on aboard this ship,” he replied.  “I must know how the crew relates to each other; at the first sign of problems, they must be dealt with.”

 

“Usually involving punishing those involved.”

 

“If there be reason, yes.  Even among freebooters, some discipline is required.”

 

“And what kind of punishment does being nervous merit?” Hope asked.

 

“The cat need not be taken up if a few words with the people involved will do.”

 

“The people?  So what did the captain say when you…”

 

Osei waited for her to finish her question, and when nothing further came, he replied, “I always speak to the more nervous of the two first.  In the end that gets the job done quicker.”

 

“The more nervo- Very well,” Hope sighed.  “Perhaps I have been a bit off after the parley.  I watched Abigail manipulate everyone into doing what she wanted, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.”

 

“And you have seen how many parleys conducted by the captain before now?”

 

“Very well:  The last parley, she manipulated me into doing what she wanted.  And while everyone else aboard is either more willing or less aware of what she does, I’m not at all pleased with this.”

 

Osei took a breath and slowly asked, “And did you let her know why you objected to her making you voice a plan you do not agree to?”

 

“I… don’t actually disagree with it.  A letter of marque would certainly offer us some protection from the Casa, I admit.  But if she really wanted to have us do that, why not say so plainly herself?”

 

“And what authority does she cite for her captaincy?”

 

“Well, I-” Hope started, then caught herself.  “Oh, the crew chooses her, yes, I know, and of course they would never challenge her during a fight.  But does she really…” 

 

She blinked as she realized while she stated, “Because she needed someone else to propose it!  It’s wicked politics, and she’s good at it.”

 

“I’ve seen more wicked than that,” Osei said with a sigh.

 

“You mean something Abigail has done in parley that’s more outlandish?”

 

“Nay, she is not the most controlling woman in the New World.”

 

“Whom, then?” Hope asked

 

“Señorita Maria Isabel de Cordova, my master.”

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