Part the Two Hundred Thirty Sixth: The Triangle Trap
“She runs a broad reach well,” said Turely as he played the line on the boom to allow the ship to catch the best possible sail. “I’d say she’s capable of quite a bit more than she shows, if we’d give her a proper headsail instead of two jibs.”
Hope said nothing; the two hours of sleep she finally did get the night before provided too little rest to allow her to reply quickly.
“I’ll take your word on that,” said Jukes as he secured the boom where Turely indicated with a nod. “You know your lines and sheets well.”
“Aye. Been at sea since I was younger than Edward is now,” Turley nodded over to the lad, who with Jack was practicing rolling fore one of the three pounders. Hope wondered why they chose to be gunners, and made note to herself to ask them that when she could.
“Must have seen quite a few ports, I take it?” Jukes asked.
“Which ports?” Hope inquired, asserting herself into the conversation.
“London, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Dublin,” Turley started to rattle off.
“Mostly back home, then?”
“Aye, Miss Hope, mostly the short haul with an honest cargo.”
“And yet you’re here,” Hope asked, trying to form a sentence despite the exhaustion.
“Which is my curse, for what I’d done.”
“My greed got the better of me,” said Turley, “as I wanted to do better than the wages I’d received. There was a ship’s master, Smee, who had contract between Africa and Virginia for-”
He interrupted himself to look around; Hope noticed that he relaxed when he thought Osei wasn’t in earshot.
“-for trading guns for slaves, then those for tobacco to go home,” he continued. “It was a far better lot than the short runs back home, and I thought a few of those and I might be able to move up some.
“From the start, it was trouble. We had storms most of the way from Portsmouth and lost three lads, washed over the decks. We’d got to Kaabu and nearly left empty when the Nyancho there tried to take our guns without payment; it was a near thing then that he might have left us at the least without a ship, or worse traded us up to Arab slavers working inland.”
Hope nodded, not so much out of sympathy as understanding.
“We should have been suspicious of his change of heart. After two weeks, the Nyancho relented and we finally had a cargo to head west with, a load of strong bucks that Smee thought would have gotten the finest leafs to take back with us. We’d even had good sailing from there most of the way, until the end.
“I still can’t fathom how long the rest of the crew had been planning to seize the ship and taker the cargo to Spanish lands for gold, but the first I heard of it was when Smee and his closest confidantes were shot dead and cast overboard. The mutineers organized themselves well and outnumbered anyone not decided on their course of action, so when it came time to declare, those not in their confidence felt no choice but to join the mutiny.”
“So you just joined with them,” Hope filled the silence that followed Turley’s tale…
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