Part the Two Hundred Twenty Sixth: On the Rocks
“Oh, this is just lovely,” Hope sighed. “What a marvelous way to stage a rescue.”
“Hope, please-” Samuel tried to say.
“We have a crew,” she continued, “what may be as fine collection of gentlemen as Port Royal has ever seen. And as we sit here unable to leave port, we’ll be able to say how we almost set sail as we turn into a rabble that-”
“Now, now, Miss,” said Mason with a cheery but forceful tone, like a golden glint off the edge of a sword. “It’s not like the lad here can have a ship at the ready, like he was a duke who could command to set sail right away.”
Hope glanced at Samuel, whose expression of disappointment made her sorry she’d started to say something hurtful.
“It is a busy port,” said de Barrer, “so there must be other ships coming and going at every moment, no?”
“What kind of ship do we need?” asked Mullins.
“Small, I imagine,” said Turley. “Swift, perhaps with a shallow draft.”
“Si,” said Samuel. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for. Not just any merchant vessel will do.”
“We saw a few sloops by the North Docks,” said de Rojo, “when we pulled in.”
“Sadly, Don Hernando could or would not introduce me to the master of the Swallow. She was the one with the cotton sails.”
“And the four guns?” asked Goddard.
“Si, that was her.”
“Why don’t we appeal to the master ourselves?” asked Edward. “Do we really need the permission of this ‘Hernando’ to speak to him?”
There was a slight silence as Samuel hesitated, Hope assumed, to try and figure out how to explain the Am H’Sefer to the lad…
“When we find him,” de Flanders chimed in, “perhaps you should do the talking. Mademoiselle,” he said with too obvious an interest to Charity.
When she didn’t respond right away Hope turned to her, and was surprised by the expression on her face…
“Charity?” she asked.
“How many men serve on this ship?” Charity asked Samuel.
“I… Six, I’m guessing.”
“Cela semble prometteur… If certain things favor us, there is a way.”
“What things?” Hope asked.
“If most of them go ashore at night, and the ship stays at the dock, then we may well have her before morning.”
Hope felt herself ascending on the inside. “We can have a ship? What do you propose?”
And when Charity finished relaying her plan, Hope still agreed to go through with it; no matter how much she despised and detested the plan, the promise of the Swallow was impossible to ignore…
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