Part the Two Hundred Twenty Third: The Case for Her Course
The silence Hope received after she relayed John of Mersey’s confession seemed longer than her voyage on the Raging Gale.
The breaking of silence when it came was like thunder: “You can’t be serious!” declared Charity.
“We can’t leave her in de Colera’s hands,” Hope responded. “Would she have left us behind if we were in his clutches?”
“Maybe,” said Osei. “She is a practical woman, after all.”
“And think of what you ask,” said Samuel. “The five of us here, going into the Villa de Colera. Getting past the guns at the Castillo de Morro will be enough of a task, especially after they increased the garrison following Myngs’ raid.”
“And wouldn’t they be ever vigilant on the seas now,” said Goddard, “since they lost so much treasure to us? They must have more guarda out looking for pirates since the Little Plate Fleet’s venture.”
“First off,” said Hope, “there was no Little Plate Fleet.”
“But my sources-” said Samuel
“They lied to you. This ‘de Huevo’ who was there; is he familiar at all to you?”
“No, not directly, although…” he trailed as his brow widened in revelation.
“He could know people who know people. And if he’s able to openly be with a man like de Colera, then perhaps… Dios Mio, could he have…?”
“But the treasure we found,” Goddard pointed out. “There were all those locked chests we hauled aboard.”
“Yes,” said Hope, “one of which burst open in Abigail’s cabin while I was there to burn her charts. And do you know what I found in it?
“Rocks. Lead weights. Chains. Enough dead weight in that locked box to make us think that we’d seized a great treasure, if we believed the story and never opened the box. I might still have believed that we’d found all that gold had not a round shot shattered the box.”
“So there was never any gold, then?” Charity asked.
“No gold? Then where did de Colera get all of the gold dust to gild Abigail for his guests? Think of what he has personally to allow him to do that.”
She gave a brief thought before she continued, not sure if using it to tempt her was the right thing to do…
Hope pressed on, “What he would have needed just to gild and present me to them like that would still be a great fortune.”
She watched as Charity’s eyes widened greedily…
“And as practical as she was,” Hope continued, “would she have left us in his hands if the stakes were so high?”
“The life of a single person?” asked Osei.
“More than that; there’s a reason she was considered ‘su gran tesoro’ by him, not for her looks but her skills. Did you not once admire her as a great sea artist?”
“Yes…” Osei said, his head nodding as he started to follow her line of reasoning.
“Exactly. With her ‘chart in her head’ as she called it, if it were pressed by an ambitious man like de Colera, he could become master of much of the New World’s seas, both for Spain and for his own personal gain.”
“Then we have more reasons than not to see to her rescue,” said Goddard.
“Yes, we do. Now it’s just a matter of how…”
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