Part the One Hundred Ninety First: Stowing the Booty
Hope couldn’t decide if the exhaustion or the pain were worse.
On the one hand, she felt numb as the excitement drained off after the engagement ended.
The racing of her heart, the tingle over her skin, the anxious energy coursing through her; when they all stopped, she felt as though she could have slept in her hammock all the way from here to Spain had the Gale decided to follow the rest of the Little Plate Fleet on their journey.
All she did feel was the pain. The tender soreness under her left shoulder, the work of the Spaniard who landed that punch, was still throbbing, though it steadily diminished with every moment. She rotated her arm a few times and felt nothing worse than sore flesh, which was a blessing.
Especially now that the Gale no longer had a skilled surgeon aboard her.
She kept her mind on other things, such as holding taut the lines. She favored her good arm as she wrapped her line around her back, leaning into it to keep both ships closer together as the Gale’s crew hoisted locked chests from the hold of the galleon and unloaded them onto their vessel.
“Attente! Attente!” said Charity, trying to keep from being squashed by the box she was guiding over the gangway. The stolen cargo could have easily pummeled her into paste, despite having Goor between her and the box to cushion the blow.
Hope shifted slightly to the side, keeping her feet on the deck sharply as she made room for the next treasure chest to come aboard.
“What’s the count so far?” Abigail asked Osei, calling across the gangway to him from the deck of the galleon.
“This is the ninetieth we’ve brought aboard,” he replied from the deck of the Gale.
“And what be our numbers now?”
“There are sixty of us left, before counting any from the galleon who might be invited to sign up.”
“Not a chance,” she called back. “We were very thorough in the fight, leaving a single officer alive who’s said nothing so far.”
“Pfff,” said Goor, “after what his men did to us, I say keelhaul him.”
Hope said nothing as Charity and the rest of the men around her grunted in agreement. She wasn’t horrified at the suggestion, she just said nothing…
“He says nothing since we took his vessel,” Abigail continued as she crossed over to the Gale’s deck. “The only thing he’s done is spit at me.”
“Not very gallant,” Hope commented.
“Aye, nor a wise course for a cornered man. Even a penal facing the hempen jig would show more care to those holding his fate in their hands. Proud stubborn bastard come the end, I think.”
“Seems odd,” said Osei, “to continue as such in the face of certain death.”
“Hmm, aye… Still, if he wants to stay with the galleon when we depart, that’ll be his choice. In the meantime, let’s get these stowed and underway.”
“Back to Nevis, after we resupply and rest in Port Royale. I think we did well enough from this to earn some time there.”
Tired and sore as she was, Hope still managed to smile on hearing that assessment…
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