Part the Two Hundred Thirty Fifth: To Be Ready For The Way Ahead
“Could you stop shifting around like that?” Charity snarled. “This hammock might not stay attaché.”
“I can’t help it,” Hope said after she leaned over a few times, moving herself to better face Charity after a few maneuvers. “I’m having trouble sleeping.”
“Now you have problems. You have your own hammock on le Gale, we share a bed ashore, neither time this happens. So why now?”
Hope said nothing as she jerked herself a few times to get up and landed her feet on deck.
Goddard looked up from his kit on the cabin floor, half asleep.
Hope stepped over his place on the floor, wove between Osei and Jukes and went out on deck.
Turley manned the tiller as de Rojo kept the lines trimmed. They just nodded to Hope while she looked over the gunwales to starboard.
She didn’t hear Charity come on deck beside her until she said softly, “It’s not just two people sharing a hammock, is it?”
“No,” Hope sighed. “What he said about the ‘Mark of Cain’ before, how he looked at me.”
“But you’ve never had problems with people who killed before. You watched Abigail deliver le coup de la mort before many times, and never felt uncomfortable around her.”
“No, that’s not it at all. I’ve certainly not had problems being around killers since I left England; I rather think the New World is meant to be awash in blood throughout its future with all the suffering I’ve seen.”
“Then if that’s not it, what is it?” Charity asked.
“It’s hard to say. I don’t know if I have words for what I am feeling.”
“If you can’t then there’s nothing I can do for you. If you are going to stay on deck all night, unable to say why you cannot be among killers, then-”
“It’s because I don’t know if I could be one,” Hope said without thinking first.
“What we’re doing, rescuing Abigail from de Colera; I have no illusions what must be done, what needs to be done. And I know that what we must do won’t be accomplished by just showing up at his portico and asking politely for her to be handed over to us. And I know quite well that when the moment comes, I must be in the thick of it among you, shoulder to shoulder.
“But I don’t know if I can actually take a life. Until now, I’ve been amidst such fury and was still able to keep my hands clean of blood-”
“Pardon moi?” Charity interrupted.
“Not literally, no, of course not, but I was never the one to actually kill a man. Any blood on me was always the work of another, never my doing.”
“So why is this the reason that you stay awake all night, restless beside me?”
“Because I cannot afford to stay so clean,” said Hope. “If we are going to save Abigail, if we are to have any chance at all of saving her, I must be able to do what I have not been capable of so far. I must do no less than anyone else would.
“And Lord help me, I don’t know if I can…”
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