Part the Two Hundred Thirteenth: Going Sailing No More
“Incroyable,” Charity finally said.
Her exclamation came as a surprise to Hope. So many hours had gone by since she had intervened on her behalf and escorted her out of the common room at the inn, she had thought Charity had been shocked into silence. After spending the longest time she’d ever experienced with Charity not saying a word, Hope was almost shocked when she finally did speak.
“Ever full of surprises,” Hope said while shaking her head.
“How did you- I mean, I saw you go over the edge when the cannon shot the stairs.”
“I don’t know if I can tell you.”
“Because I would be too distracted by wondering how you managed to survive,” Hope responded. “I must ask you to tell me your tale first, how you survived the Casa’s attack.”
“You are so unfair!”
“As the woman who saved you from punishment and provided you with a room and a meal,” Hope nodded to the two bowls of stew she had managed to have sent up to her private chamber, “I believe I have the upper hand here.”
“Very well. We were quite lucky when the volley that blew you off the Gale also knocked the gaff into the water. As the Casa closed in on us, Abigail, she raised her sword and started to rally the crew the way she was wont to whip them into frenzy before battle, but she didn’t get the chance this time.”
“Pray tell, what happened?”
“As she started her rail against the Spaniards,” Charity finally responded, “a single shot from the deck took her down. She collapsed over the tiller.”
“And no one was with her when she died?”
“The same moment the shot struck, the Spaniards peppered the decks with grape shot. They cut down most of the crew where they stood. When the volley washed over the deck, we fell overboard from the dead and dying being cut down like wheat falling atop us.”
Hope allowed herself a moment to imagine the scene, the terrible carnage as the crew fell-
-and then bolted upright. She asked, “You said ‘we.’ Who else survived? Did they make it here? Who?”
“There was Osei, and Goddard too. The three of us, we fell over at the same time after the grape, and all three of us were close enough to the gaff. There were still tatters of sail attached, and Osei said we should cover ourselves with them to hide. We were in no position to fight, as truly en mer as one could be.”
“And no one else survived?”
“We would hear from under the sails the cries on deck as the damnés Espagnols stormed the Gale, and when the cries stopped I looked up. I saw…
“Those who survived, they hung from the yards that were still on masts. I- I hope they were dead, before the fires that were set on deck started to lick at their bodies, before the flames brought down the masts.
“Goddard said, we should kick and move ourselves away from the hull. We did, and got far enough away from her before the fire started to burn the Gale to the water line. The Casa was long gone by then, and we… we…”
They both cried in silence.
All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan