Part the One Hundred Sixty Fourth: The Price of the Venture
Hope looked at Abigail and Samuel, both of whom seemed frustrated that of all the men in Nevis making remarks about how nubile she was, it would be the Governor, the one gentleman with whom one’s dealings required the utmost of manners.
“I am not sure I fully understand your comment, sir,” Hope replied, looking him in the eye.
The Governor continued, “Yes, I’d say you are very healthy, and well cared for, making you, oh… seven stone in weight, say?”
Her eyes quickly darted to Samuel and Abigail, the later recognizing where His Excellency’s comments were leading.
“So that be the price of the letter of marque,” said Abigail. “The ransom for Miss Harvey here.”
Samuel’s face burst in recognition. “You mean, you’re that Hope?”
“That’s a rather high sum for your boon,” Abigail noted.
“One which could be guaranteed very easily,” he said as he looked her up and down. “I’d rather think, Captain, the expense of keeping this hostage is a drain on your resources, after all.”
“We can offer ye half her value, before we sail,” said Abigail, “and the rest on our return, provided she comes with us on the venture.”
“I’d rather she be kept close by us than left here,” Abigail said with a knowing look over at Hope.
“I’m disinclined. I doubt you have half of her value at hand, otherwise you would not be coming to me for-”
“We have it,” said Samuel.
The rest of the room looked at him.
“The entire amount, Your Excellency, si. I have faith in the Raging Gale, and our family’s recent successes in our ventures to Barbados and Virginia puts us in a position to offer this treasure.”
“And in return, sir?” Abigail asked him.
“A percentage of the rewards from the venture, up to the price His Excellency requested.”
“With, of course, the customary fees on behalf of His Majesty,” added the Governor, “a fourth of the results of your efforts.”
“And there be most of me booty right there,” said Abigail, trying to smile instead of protest.
“Perhaps the captain would consider seeking license elsewhere,” said the Governor, “should she find her way through hostile waters to another port.”
“I’m sure la capitánana need not worry about your offer,” said Samuel, “especially if her venture is guaranteed to be a grand success by going for La Pequeña Flota de Plato.”
“The Little Plate Fleet?” Abigail asked.
“Si, a small handful of ships, forced to make the voyage from Nueva España early because of a recent surge in gold that cannot be guarded in Vera Cruz until the regular Flota de Indias comes.”
“Gold, ye say?” said Abigail, perking up at the mention.
“Rumors, as I understand it,” said the Governor.
“Ah, but rumors carried by some trustworthy sources. And if the Gale lives up to her reputation, if even one staggering vessel is claimed by her, she will certainly make her crew, as well as both of us, very rich.”
There was a long pause before Abigail replied, “It appears I have before me an offer of… notable generosity.”
“Very well,” said the Governor. “I shall have my scrivener draw up the letter.”
“And I would like to discuss the matter of this fleet with you, Señor de Cadiz,” said Abigail, “to know more about this prize.”
“I would of course be honored to have you and your lovely associate,” he gave a slight bow with a wink to Hope, “join me for dinner this evening.”
Both women curtsied, Abigail saying under her breath to Hope, “I’d be watching him closely if I were you.”
“Oh?” Hope asked.
“Aye, he seems to be after more than just gold.”
Hope found it hard to rise; her surprise at her lack of resistance to his entreaties weakened her knees…
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