Part the One Hundred Ninety Third: All That Does Glitter…
Hope followed Abigail into her quarters a few hours later.
She bit down on her jaw, trying to stay focused for the meeting with her captain. She could not shake the feeling that what Abigail had to say in private was going to be very unpleasant, and if Abigail was keeping her counsel close, then she did not want to betray that confidence.
She noticed that the captain was examining one of the chests seized from the galleon, placed in the cabin by the crew before they set off for Port Royale. Abigail ran her fingers over the lid, then rubbed her pinky over the keyhole on the lock.
“My best guess,” said Abigail, “is that only one ship had the keys, which of course was not the one we seized.”
“We could break the locks, perhaps?” Hope offered.
“Aye, we could, when we’re a few days on. Better later than now, though I’d rather find some way to keep this box. Makes for a good store; nice and sturdy, and goes with the cabin.”
“Who’s the best at working with locks?”
“The crew I have are all good fighters and seamen,” said Abigail, “but not a one’s a locksmith. That’s not me lot in life, any way, being a thief. Well, not that kind of thief.”
“As to what you said, on deck earlier; pray tell, what weighs on you so?”
Abigail sat down on the chest and patted a spot on it for Hope to sit next to her. “Truth to tell,” she said as Hope sat, “this is the most dangerous part of the voyage we be on now.”
“What, after everything else? We got the treasure from the Little Plate Fleet, didn’t we?”
“Aye, and that’s the rub: We have so much treasure that the Gale has never been more vulnerable. She cuts the waves now like a rafter and flies over them more like a drunken sailor than a gull. She’s sluggish and hard to persuade to change course; if the Spaniards did have the desire to send one of their other galleons after us, they might have us at their mercy.”
Hope nodded a few times as she considered her assessment. “Can’t we do without some of the treasure, then, if it’s holding us down?”
“This venture is based on the wants and needs of this crew. Their greed is what keeps them going, and what allows us to be with them, you and me. If they did not have the promise of their weight in gold in each of these chests, they would have parlayed me out of here, and maybe you as well.”
“I think you might be mistaken. I do think they have come to look up to and respect you.”
“Even were I to believe you,” Abigail sighed, “there’s still the matter of the long haul.”
“I don’t follow.”
“You, you just might. Osei, a few more, but beyond that, the rest of them, they will want to live up to the articles and dissolve the venture.”
The stated assessment of the end of the Gale’s venture hung between Hope and Abigail heavier than the gold in the chest they sat on…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan