Part the One Hundred Seventy Third: The Captain’s Examination
“Mister Folard,” Abigail commanded as she surveyed Jean Herbert’s vessel, “give me the damage on the Gale and an honest judgment of whether this ship be any better. Mister Campbell, we need inventory of everything aboard the prize to see how much we can use if she’s going to be scuttled. Take as detail anyone you wish; the sooner we be under sail and away the better. Mister Osei?”
“In addition to Mister Collins,” he replied, “we lost seven, with twelve willing to sign our articles, for a gain of four.”
“Nay. Collins was a superb artillerist, whose loss we’ll feel deeply. We’ll not be able to replace him so quickly.”
“The party for assessing the stores,” Campbell announced, “I call upon Mister van Herck, Mister Garland, Miss Harvey and Mister Goor. I ask that each of you to pull along a mate with him or her.”
“Me?” Hope asked.
“And is there a reason I should not trust your judgment?”
Hope considered the question very quickly before she tapped Charity on the elbow to come with her.
“Was Jean Herbert a pirate or a merchant?” Charity asked as she opened another barrel of feed grain. “I’ve yet to see anything here beyond usitée marchandise.”
“These barrels,” Hope said as she examined the side, “they bear the seal of the English Crown on them, so he must have seized them as prizes before he engaged with us.”
“Incroyable,” said Charity. “Spoken like a real captain as you examine it.”
Hope bolted upright and stared at her.
“You must have been paying close attention to what la Capitanne has been saying since you came aboard and picked up how to run a venture, enough that you could run your own.”
Hope said nothing, thinking back to Samuels’ observation before the battle.
“So if you were captain, what should we do?”
“But I’m not, of course,” said Hope. “And I would not consider making such a claim for myself now, thank you.”
“No, no, don’t être tellement sérieux,” said Charity, “I mean, if. Think of it as a game: If you were captain, what would you do now?”
“Well, let’s see… We do have some members of Jean Herbert’s crew that readily joined ours, who might be able to tell us about more about this ship, how she sails, things like that.”
“Assuming they were telling the truth.”
“I think they would,” said Hope. “Like others who have asked to come aboard, there was no love for their old master, and every desire to prove themselves useful to the new crew. Much as you did with the silver ballast.”
“Oh, oui, of course. And if they did not provide enough to go on?”
“Hmm… Perhaps Mister Follard could tell from his examination of her beam how sturdy the ship is. And perhaps, if I had Abigail’s gifts, I could use my observations of the rigging as a sea artist to guide to see if we would take this over the Gale. Or ask a sea artist, if I had one with me”
“Would you really abandon the Gale for this one, la Capitanne? After all we’d been through on her?”
“Well, I might, I suppose. This ship has more guns, but I heard from others on deck that they are all three pounders, which are smaller than ours. Had she fours or better, that would sink the Gale right there.”
“The consideration of the guns,” Charity continued, “that sounds very much like what la Capitanne would say, no?”
Charity’s consideration made Hope wonder if she could indeed be picked at parley for captain…
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