Part the One Hundred Ninety Eighth: Abigail’s Desperate Orders
The loss of both topsails to the Casa’s first shots had impacts on the Raging Gale.
The first was the loss of crew who were in the high rigging. The fall from atop the masts was fatal, whether they went over the side or fell to the deck.
The second was the carnage wrought by falling rigging. Sails, yards, masts and bodies raining down on the decks fouled the crew they fell on.
The third was jarring loss of momentum as the Gale lurched. Hope thought she could hear the stilling of water as the brigantine no longer sliced through the waves.
Hope saw the splintered masts where sails and crew had been before and tried not to shudder.
Abigail continued to curse mightily, her language descending into profanity deeper than the levels of Hell that Dante wrote of. The rest of the crew were busy disengaging themselves from the pieces of the mast that had sheared over them.
“How bad is this?” Hope asked Abigail, trying to stay calm by not filling in her own answer.
Abigail stopped cursing and looked her straight in the eyes. “Go to the cabin! Now!” she said.
Hope took two seconds to register what Abigail asked before she replied, “No.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“What in the hell-” Abigail growled.
“No. I’ve been through so much with you. I’ve seen friends killed, along with my friends killing others. And yes, I said friends; if asked, I’d claim I signed the articles willingly. I’ve been through too much with you, been at your side for the good and the bad, and by God, I’m not going to cower now. If this is the end, I want to be with you when it happens.”
She heard Abigail growl with anger before she responded, “Now you listen here! I need you in the cabin, and for a good reason: Every chart I have must be destroyed. Every map, every table, all of it; I have too much information that the Spanish could use to their own ends whether we live or not, and I’m not about to let my rutter fall into his hands!
“And as far as being part of this crew, that needs to go to! Having ye name on the articles of a venture like this be certain death, and if there’s any grace we can wiggle into by denying them such damning evidence, now is the time to destroy it and save the names of any crew that might live through this! Now do ye savvy yet?”
Hope took two seconds to register what Abigail asked before she replied, “Oh.”
“Now get yer arse in there and do what I say if ye intend to save it! Go!”
Hope rushed off the quarterdeck and to the brazier with matches for the guns. Only Charity seemed to notice her there as she quickly grabbed a lit coal and made her way into the cabin, but she did no more than look at her.
Hope grabbed the first thing she could that would ignite, started a fire on the chart table, then fed it every bit of Abigail’s materials she could grab.
As she scoured the cabin, her eyes fell on the Spanish treasure chest they’d seized.
And she froze-
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan