Part the Two Hundred Fifty Fourth: All Ashore That’s Going Ashore
Hope stared as the sails slackened in the declining light.
“Shouldn’t we be moving faster?” Redhanded Jack asked.
“We need a new tack, quickly!” said Hope. “We can’t just drift like this.”
“What happened?” Charity asked.
“The wind died,” said Goddard. “Wat pech! We hit some doldrums just as we went past de la Roca.”
“The breeze just died?” Jukes asked.
“Less worry, more work!” Hope pleaded. “We can’t just drift here!”
“Tight rig! Sharp to it!” Osei barked, which moved the men faster.
Samuel slackened the clew on the mainsail before de Barrer and Turely grabbed the boom to move it into the best position to catch what few wisps they could find. When the got the right trim, Goddard and de Rojo secured the boom by grasping the lines, ready to move as Osei took the tiller and adjusted their course.
Hope allowed herself a chance to exhale as the sloop regained some momentum. “We need to keep going,” she said. “We can’t just float here.”
“We may not have much choice,” said Goddard. “She’s dying down to barely a wisp. If we lose the wind for good before we get far enough around the bend, we will be at the mercy of the currents.”
Hope frantically cast her eyes off port to shore. “About that spot there,” she said. “How close in can we get? What’s our draft?”
Goddard eyed the beach and said, “Ja, we could do that. She’d beach easily and we could get her off quickly when we need to get away.”
“Do that, as far in as possible. The shorter we need to walk in the better.”
“We be walking in?” asked Mullins.
“No choice. It might be morning before we’re able to sail in, and the longer it takes us to get there the more time they have to prepare to meet us.”
Hope ignored the reactions of the crew as she went to the bow of the Black Swallow and pointed to the best spot on the beach to beach the ship.
With the light dying, Osei took the tiller and put the Black Swallow on tact for the shore.
“How far are we going to need to take it over land?” Mason asked.
“According to John of Mersey, maybe half a mile,” said Hope. “The way Morgan made him sing under the knife, I have no doubt about what he told us.”
The crew offered no resistance as the men Hope trusted with the Swallow’s piloting guided her to shore.
The sky was a deep purple as her hull kissed the sands with a slow shush that glided under the crew. The Swallow started listing to starboard before she beached slowly on her way in to shore.
“We’d best secure her,” said Osei as the Swallow sailed to a halt. “I believe we have an anchor.”
“Let’s do this then,” said Hope.
The anchor securing the ship, the crew debarked for the march inland.
“Is anyone else feeling the water between their legs the way I am?” asked de Flanders.
Hope and Charity stared him into silence, Hope not wanting to comment on what she felt as she waded ashore with intent…
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