Part 259

Part the Two Hundred Fifty Ninth: Waste of an Opportunity

“So we cannot count on having more powder on us than we carried ashore,” said Charity.

“I never said that,” said Jukes as he adjusted the forge’s fire.  “If we have the ingredients and time, then perhaps we could, though it would not be the best quality.”

“Which is something we don’t have, right?” said Samuel.

“But you must,” said Charity.  “Every advantage we can take, we must.  Quick, how do we get this saltpeter you need?”

“Can you piss on a manure pile?”

“What?”

“If you can, I would be interested in seeing that,” said de Flanders.

“How dare you salaluds even suggest-”

“But that’s what we need,” insisted Jukes steadily and calmly.  “If we had a cow or a goat that could do the deed, that would work as well.”

“Oh,” Charity said in a softer voice, then asked, “So all we need is a farm animal to water its merde, then?”

“That and a few months, ideally a year, with some care given the pile.”

“Again, something we don’t have,” said Samuel.

“You were holding out on me, weren’t you?” Charity accused him.

“This argument is pointless,” Hope jumped in.  “A man like de Colera, he might be tempted to make his own powder given a chance, right?”

The crew looked at each other and nodded as they considered this.

“Right, which means he might have his own watered pile he’s keeping.  We find that, and if we’re blessed any sulfur in his stores, and then we could, couldn’t we?”

“There’d still be time to consider,” said Jukes.  “The mixing and grinding of the powder would need to be undertaken as well.”

“Are we talking months for that too, alchemist?” Charity asked sharply.

“It may not need to be as fine as this…” Jukes said as he traced his fingers on the charcoal and blackened them on the fine powder, then trailed as he stared at it.

Her impatience rising, Hope turned to Osei and asked, “How is Nina’s map coming?  Let me see what she has.”

“This is where we are,” Osei pointed to the arrangement of the blocks.  “The big one here is the main house, where de Colera lives.”

“That’s a good distance.  What else do we have?”

“This is the old chapel, the kitchen, the old henhouse-”

“Hens! Chickens!  Mister Jukes, will poultry waste do for your purposes?”

“Uh, well-  Yes, if we-”

“If we have enough hens then perhaps we have what you need.  How many hens are there?  Ask her!”

The exchange between Nina and Osei seemed to go on far longer than it should have before he relayed to her, “She does not know; all she can say is that there are two guards in front of the door at all times.”

“Two guards?  Are you certain?”

“Occasionally three, she says, when one brings a meal to the building.”

“Of all the ridiculous-”

Hope’s sentence died in her throat as her brain exploded.  “Of course!  That’s it!”

“What, he’s got a thing for chickens?” asked Charity.

“No!  We’ve found Abigail!”

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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