Part the One Hundred Seventy Ninth: The Calm and the Prize
She went up more easily than she went down, Hope found when she manned the line and raised the gaff.
It was hours later; the skies had cleared, and the Gale was getting under sail again. The ship’s mainsail was intact, as were the square-rigged sails and the gunwales. The only damage Hope could see was a tear in the jib that made her look like two sails tied to each other, clew to clew and tack to tack, and otherwise did not seem the worse for it.
By the time the gaff was back in place the mainsail was starting to billow in the easterly wind. Hope could feel the Gale’s subtle forword motion through the decks beneath her feet as the winds gathered in the rigging above her.
Abigail emerged from the cabin as the ship stared underway again. She looked weighed down, despite having changed into drier gear. Her pace seemed languid as she made her way up the deck, eyeing every bit of the Gale as she did so.
“That was some storm,” Hope said as Abigail came close to her.
“We’ve had worse,” she replied.
“So Osei told me. You seem wearied by it all the same.”
“It’s the size of her, that’s all.”
“Pardon?” Hope asked.
“The bigger the vessel, the more ye have to worry about. After I unhitched myself from the tiller, I had a feeling as I changed that I felt we’d be better in a smaller boat.”
“Ah, ‘tis likely just a passing whim,” Abigail replied. “I entertained a memory of me early days with Edmund, when we crewed aboard a sloop out of Gran’ Bahama. She was a fine one, simple with her single mast, yet able to catch most winds with ease. I’ve no dislike of the Gale, not a one, but I found meself for a brief moment thinking of a simpler time, something easier to trim and helm.”
Hope just stared at her.
“As I said, no idea why I’d think back on that. Such a craft would be too small to go for the treasures we do. Outrun most of them, aye, but not bring as much fight to them. Just a-”
“Sail! Sail!” came the cry from Bosfelt.
“Aye,” confirmed Goddard, “to the east. Two masts, square rig.”
“Sounds like a light diversion,” said Abigail as she straightened up, seeming to shake off the weight of the memory as she turned and mounted the steps to the quarterdeck. “Her heading?” she called up into the rigging.
“Easterly,” replied Goddard.
“Full rig!” she commanded. “We’ve got the wind working with us now and an easy prize to take.”
The conversation about the sloop seemed to fade from Hope’s mind the way Abigail’s melancholy had from her as the Gale went for her latest victim…
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