Part the One Hundred Fifty Fifth: The Anxious Audition
“Married?” Hope asked, surprised by the sudden turn in Osei’s personal story. After his dire descriptions of her cruelty and depravity, a marriage was the last thing she expected for his tormentor.
“She was finally married off by her father to a man in Nueva España,” Osei continued, less pain in his voice for the moment, “a suitor who was just a name to her, nothing more than an obligation. I never did learn what her father would get from the arrangement, or what the suitor would receive other than a bride and her immediate possessions. All I was aware of was that I would go with her as part of her dowry.
“Unlike my last time aboard ship, I was free to move about at will. I found that I took naturally to being at sea when I was not chained, though I was watched at all times by Señorita de Cordova and the crew. Every chance I got, I watched the sailors practice their craft, learning by observing, part of me wishing I was a seaman along side them.
“And only twice during the voyage was I in shackles. The first time was when I came aboard; they kept me in irons until we were well underway, believing that I would be discouraged from trying to flail my way ashore when we got far enough out.
“And the second was when Captain Dyck’s ship ran up the red pennant. He swooped down on us on our second day crossing the Yucatan Passage. She asked that they put me in chains in her cabin, believing that by holding me held so tightly that I’d be her shield in case the ship was lost.”
Hope said nothing; she could feel in his sharply stated words the dire channel the tale was taking…
“Tried though the ship’s crew might, Dyck and his men won the day, the Spaniards’ blood seeping under the door before they came for Señorita de Cordova. And when they broke the door down, she used the whip to move me towards them to save her sorry life.
“But I stopped. I did not charge the brigands, and they did not take arms against a man who resisted threatening them. We stared across the cabin, both they and I getting a measure of each other with glances before they reacted.
“One of the men came forward and asked me if I liked being a slave. I said nothing, startled by the question.
“He continued the conversation by asking me if I might wish to join their band. Again, I could not answer because of the surprise, but I must have looked interested, which made possible what happened next.”
Hope guessed what was coming, but tried not to close her eyes. Not that they would have been proof over what was to come…
“It was then the buccaneers smiled, and the man making the offer tasked me with an initiation: To prove whether I’d make a good pirate, I had to demonstrate what kind of heart I could bring to a pillage, and I had to demonstrate it upon Señorita de Cordova.”
Hope gulped as Osei drew his breath…
“There was no doubt about my heart when I finished with her…”
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