Part the One Hundred Ninety Second: Casting Off
The first ill omen Hope noted was the look of the Spaniard as the Gale cast off from the galleon.
By the time the crew had taken their fill from the seized ship, the total coming to at least a chest of loot for each of them, the sun was rising in the east. As Abigail surmised, the lone survivor opted to stay with his ship, leaving him and the remaining treasure alone on the waves.
“All that gold for one man,” Goddard joked as he secured the gangway. “Maybe that’s why he opted to stay.”
“Pure folie,” said Charity to Hope’s right. “Look at the idiot, standing there to watch us go.”
Hope looked, but didn’t see the idiocy Charity claimed she saw.
His smile was too measured for a soft mind, his eyes too focused. And the way he carried himself as he walked along the deck did not seem the gait of a broken man.
And when he leaned forward after the Gale cleared the galleon and yelled at them, “Usted recibirá todos los tuyos muy pronto, los piratas,” it was too measured to Hope’s ears to be the ranting of the mad.
Hope went to the quarterdeck, where she noticed that Abigail was paying attention to the Spaniard, at least a little, while she worked the tiller.
“Pronto! Pronto!” he called after the Gale as she left him behind.
“Are you sure-” Hope started to ask.
“-Leaving him that way?” Abigail interrupted. “He’s a lone man with more boat than he can handle. As far as knowing it was us, the rest of the fleet could easily convey word to others.”
“The way he calls after us, actually; that doesn’t strike you as odd?”
“It could just be bravado, a last desperate swipe. Besides, he’s could be easily noting the rest of the fleet coming ‘round for him soon.”
Hope looked off the stern and noticed off on the horizon that the signal fires on the other galleons from the Little Plate Fleet were still burning. She counted and realized that she could only make out two of them.
“Shouldn’t their fleet have stayed together?” she asked Abigail.
“Good think we had those grenades, eh?” she replied. “Don’t care much for them, especially after the incident that took Edwin from me, but having a few on hand for emergencies, well, that-”
Hope put her face right up to Abigail’s and said, “Speak to me plainly and forthright: Do we have something to fear?”
Abigail said nothing, but did not fill the silence with a building anger as Hope thought she might.
Instead, she replied with a steady voice, “There be matters at hand that I am dealing with at present. Once I have seen to these, I will address the concerns you have.”
The steady tone in her voice scared her more than an outburst would have. Hope tried to stay steady as Abigail went back to guiding the Gale.
Nervously, she gazed east at the Little Plate Fleet, to forget having met the second ill omen…
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