Part the One Hundred Sixty Third: The Governor’s Assessment
Hope thought the Governor of Nevis would seem bigger.
Not that he was a small man; his long limbs and torso placed his head a good height above Samuel’s, Abigail’s and hers. He stood half at attention, the potential for standing ramrod straight at a moment’s notice evident, as would be expected from a man who had been a soldier some time ago, allowing him to command high ground on the room.
The diminution of the Governor began as he started to move. His motions seemed slow to the point of sloth, not what Hope expected for someone in such high office.
“The famous Captain Sanders,” said the Governor, his tone on the verge of boredom. “You’ve achieved some reputation among the survivors of your actions.”
Abigail’s curtsy stopped in mid-motion. Hope noticed a look of confusion washing across her face.
“Mind you,” he continued, “there’s the fact that your actions would of course be more memorable than any man’s atrocities on the seas, for, well, obvious reasons.”
Hope watched Abigail clamp down on her jaw, trying not to let the first, second or third response to leap to mind come forth like a broadsisde…
“Of course, Samuel’s recommendation carried some weight. His family’s position and their aid to us in the face of the French actions on Saint Kitts are deeds that more than make up for all other considerations, and certainly work to your favor, Madam.”
Hope noticed the mortification on both Samuel’s and Abigail’s faces, and wondered how they came before this man to suffer such callous remarks…
“Mind you,” the governor continued, sounding as though he was annoyed at his nap being interrupted, “your offer to place your ship in His Majesty’s service, considering your previous actions… I must of course inquire as to your motives for seeking license from me.”
“Your Excellence,” said Abigail, “I was under the impression that your office was… amenable to all offers of assistance, especially those that would, as I understand, be of benefit to the colony.”
“Ah, yes, my reputation. Almost as well-discussed as yours. So tell me of your vessel.”
“The Raging Gale is able to close and pounce upon any vessel she spots, and carries fourteen guns to bring down her quarry.”
“I see,” said the Governor. “We are of course discussing merchant vessels, as opposed to, say, warships, then?”
“Why sir, we would not be profitable in our ways were we to choose our engagements poorly.”
“Umm. Yes, well… And how profitable have you been? Have you kept account of your ventures?”
“For a full accounting to the last shilling, I can send word to fetch a member of my crew that-” Abigail started to say.
“And this person?” the Governor asked, indicating Hope.
“Well,” interjected Samuel, “she is the woman who introduced me to Captain Sanders, making her the intermediary between my family and the ship.”
The Governor looked her up and down with a very calculating, greedy eye. Hope felt a wave of disgust as she guessed why his attention seemed to be focused on her so intently…
“Your Excellency,” Hope managed to find the courage to say, not appreciating the Governor’s gaze going up and down her body, “is there some matter my presence here affects with regards to the letter of marque?”
“Hmm,” he replied, looking her up and down twice before continuing, “you seem to be a very healthy young lady, if I may say so.”
She felt bile building in her stomach, ready to burst like cannon shot from her if his perceived intentions proved true…
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