Part 156

Part the One Hundred Fifty Sixth: Mastery Among Men

 

 

The revelation that Osei had returned Señorita de Cordova’s cruelty many times over in the end stunned Hope silent.  In her shock, even the waves lapping against the hull of the Gale could not be heard.

 

Osei broke the silence. “The men who encouraged me were speechless as they took in what they witnessed.  No one who had watched me would speak to me for three days without prompting, and the ones who’d only heard of what happened seemed wary before they’d ask me anything. 

 

“Yet they were good as to their word, and I did become one of their band, sailing off from what was left of Señorita de Cordova with the rest of her possessions now booty for the venture.  And soon enough the need for company and a hand at sea warmed them to me, though warily.

 

“I was a fast study as a seaman, but shone as a master of men from the beginning.  The years supervising others served me well in knowing how to read a crew, knowing the difference between who should just be watched and who deserved to be marooned.  Within months, I formally assumed my new position with Captain Dyck, overseeing the crew as quartermaster, though my initial success owed more to my reputation than to my skills.

 

“It was only as men mustered out and were replaced by others going on the account that my skills mattered more than my reputation, and was noticed by one man in particular.  When Johan Smyth signed on in Sint Maarten, he recognized right away that I was more than just a figure of fear, a wild savage that broke his bonds through blood.”

 

“Johan Smyth…” Hope said, her eyes widening.

 

“Aye, ‘twas her, passing herself as a man.  She had stolen aboard with her lover, and I discovered everything about the arrangement soon enough aboard ship, but not until she had accorded me respect out of my position, coupled with the interest of an eager student studying how to oversee a crew.  In return for her respect and interest, as well as being more discreet with Edwin, I shared with her my thoughts and tricks on how to draw men to a cause and lead them where they might not otherwise go.

 

“And when the incident off Campeche happened, our lives took a sharp turn onto a new track.  Abigail routed the disaster and proved herself an inspiration, and in my mind the best member of the crew to now lead us.  I had no qualms about putting her forth as our captain at parley, as I knew from our talks that she of all of us knew best the ways to lead.”

 

“Because you taught her everything you know…” Hope started to say, before snapping her head and asking, “… if you trust her as captain because she knows everything you know, why not be captain yourself then?”

 

“Some day, I may, but not now.  And mid-venture is not that time.”

 

“But after all that… What could you gain by such an arrangement?”.

 

“A chance to watch an effective leader in practice.  It serves me well watching her, and could well be of value to you too.”

 

Once again, Osei’s fingers closed Hope’s mouth…

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All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan

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