Part the One Hundred Sixty Seventh: Silence Upon the Musician
Not that she was counting, Hope reminded herself.
No, she was not counting how long it had been since the fight. No, she was not counting how many days since she and Charity last spoke to each other, she stated flatly internally as she finished the second session playing at the mast. And she was not at all missing speaking to her for the last eight days beyond simple requests for necessities. And those could have been dispensed with, Hope felt, had Abigail not insisted that they stay civil.
So no, Hope silently declared, she had not counted eight days since she stopped speaking to Charity. And she was not at all wondering how much longer this would go on.
Besides, there was plenty to do. The breezes had been quite favorable, and the Gale ran steadily before the wind the whole time. Abigail looked happy at the tiller, making the southern tip of Hispaniola as quickly as she had stated she would. The last eight nights, all Abigail would do was plot her course with her rutter and charts, while Charity ignored-
No, none of that! Besides, Hope remembered, she wasn’t counting. No.
Not any of those eight nights. Not a one.
“Sail!” cried Bosfelt. “Sail to broad starboard!”
“Look alive!” cried Abigail. “Remember the letter o’marque! If she be English, we behave ourselves with her!”
“Prepare on the ready!” Osei commanded.
“Get them guns loaded and standing!” Collins commanded, and with that Charity slid aside her holystone to take her place as a powder monkey.
Hope cleared off her spot on the main deck and found herself on the quarterdeck next to the Surgeon Samuels.
“You seem your eager self for this engagement,” Hope noted wryly the dour disposition he held.
“As I’ve said before,” he replied, “no healer looks forward to a slaughter.”
Hope just nodded.
“Mind you,” he continued, “you seem far happier to be in battle than you’ve been playing music these last few days.”
“Perhaps I’m mistaken in my observations of you the last few days, the weary detachment you’ve brought to your duties, the lack of enthusiasm during meals and time on deck when you are not playing. I could well draw the conclusion from these observations that you lost the tripudium pro vita you had as late as when we arrived at Nevis.”
“Can you speak plainly on this?”
“Plainly I would say,” said Samuels, “that you would rather be back in port than on this vessel.”
“And yet you said I seem happier going into battle than I did just before.”
“Yes, which supports the alternative hypothesis.”
“And that being?” Hope asked with some trepidation.
“That you have embraced fully the ways and sensibilities of a sailor going on the account, as they say, to the point where you are becoming quite fully and truly a pirate. Indeed, one could be lead to believe that these main duties of a buccaneer are now what you live for.”
Hope had no answer to either charge, unable to find an appropriate response.
Other than wishing she’d found another part of the quarterdeck on which to take her place…
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