Part the One Hundred Ninety Fourth: The New Manifest
“You don’t trust them to stay?” Hope asked Abigail, worried that the days of sailing on the Raging Gale were coming to an end.
Abigail answered, “With enough gold for each man that they could buy enough land anywhere in the New World to be gentlemen farmers, with even more left over to live like lords? Nay, this crew’s days together are over.”
“And you don’t think they’ll blow through their shares in one night in Port Royale?”
“I can hope, but even their diversions might not impoverish them fast enough. But this is as inevitable a danger as cannons and cutlasses, success. This right here,” she patted the chest, “this is what they all want, and sooner or later they get it.”
“But some of them might still stay on,” said Hope. “Goddard, for one; he seems committed to a life at sea.”
“Aye, Zoutman’s a good man, he might well put out with me again. And Osei might well if I asked, though I think if he saw a chance to captain he’d take it.”
“And of course there’s me.”
“Oh aye,” said Abigail, “I rather think ye’ve come to expect to be with me for the long of it. You’ve proved yourself an asset, beyond just being the musician.”
“Thank you. I appreciate your confidence.”
“And if I had you under me, I’d end up with Charity as well. A good fighter, and learning the ropes with the gunners. She’s got potential, if she can straighten herself out and keep her hands to herself.”
“Oh, uh-” Hope started to stammer.
“Ever notice how she’s the first to reach for the rumbulion when a bottle is opened? Even if the articles give all hands free run on the spirits, she comes close to abusing that privilege too often.”
“Oh,” Hope said with a slight smile.
“Still, there might be hope for continuing on. As I see it, the Governor’s fees for the letter of marque may well come to enough to keep them all hungry, the ones that don’t find some way to slip off at Port Royale, and maybe that will keep them going. And there’s the repayment of de Cadiz as well; that might keep their bellies from getting too fat.”
“So you hope for keeping them poor so that you can stay at sea?”
“I could hope to be the Mistress of Neptune and not see that either. There’s still a lot of gold left over even if both de Cadiz and the Governor took twice their shares, enough to lure them ashore to stay no matter what. No, I must come to accept it; this venture is at an end, and I have to think about what comes next.”
“But I don’t want it to end,” Hope said as she stood. “Not like this, not now.”
“There, there,” said Abigail as she too rose. “Part of going on the account is facing up to the fact that it can’t last forever. All such rovings come to an end sooner or later.”
Without thinking, Hope reached out her arms to Abigail.
To her surprise, Abigail completed the hug, comforting her with a reassuring grasp…
“Sail! Sail!” the cry came from out on deck.
“Sink me!” Abigail muttered…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan