Part 237

Part the Two Hundred Thirty Seventh: The Reckoning Ashore

“What could I do?” Turley replied to Hope’s question as he related his tale of woe.  “The voyage from England to Kaabu had already been filled with misfortune, and the mutineers deciding that Nueva España offered better price for their cargo of slaves would not be denied, as the corpse of any man who voiced dissent was cast over.  I feared for my life, I did, and wanted to live.”

“And the price for shares of gold must have been tempting, eh?” Jukes asked.

“I wasn’t thinking that at the time.  It only occurred to me later that this might be of some consolation.”

“Oh of course, of course,” Hope said, trying to keep her tone neutral…

“Not that we were ever to see it,” Turley continued.  “Among the men loyal to Smee cast over was the navigator, and among the mutineers few had less experience with piloting than they initially claimed.  This didn’t become known, however, until a few days after the mutiny, when it was obvious we had made scant progress.

“We were in danger of another mutiny aboard the ship, and this time I knew of two competing circles vying for favor among the crew against the mutineers.  I couldn’t decide which of the two were better, not having much faith in either, and all the time trying to keep these two groups from being known about by the new masters of the ship.  Had we made it to port, I’d have deserted there and never come back.”

“So what happened?” Hope asked.

“There was a call of ‘Land!’ that came up when the ship finally came in sight of the shores of Jamaica.  We were desperate by then, nearly out of supplies, and needed water and food.  I volunteered to be part of the shore party, wanting to get away from the back stabbing that was on the verge of happening.

“We were three days in before the first attack took place, a party of Maroons that surprised us on the march.  We lost three men then before we outran them, and were set upon again only moments after our wits returned.  There were only five of us left by nightfall, and then we ran through the brush to return to the ship without rest.

“But when we arrived shortly after dawn, we realized why the Nyancho was suddenly willing to have our cargo.  These men were cunning warriors, his enemies whom he wanted removed far from his land, and they bided their time until the right moment, when they rose up against the men left on the ship.  I saw the last of the cargo set fire to her before abandoning her on the beach, leaving the bodies of the crew behind.”

“Were his enemies from without or within?” Osei asked.

Turley froze when he realized who was listening to his tale.

“If they had been the Nyancho’s own warriors,” Osei opined, “what better way to secure your position if you felt threatened than to sell them to slavers?  At least I’m assuming; what did they tell you of their tale, sir?”

“I… I never asked them.”

“Did anyone aboard your ship?”

Turley just turned white under Osei’s cold stare…

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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