Part the Two Hundred Seventy Second: The Challenge of Greed
Hope felt her nerves start to fray as she encountered opposition.
She figured that the luck so far that allowed her to find Abigail, kill de Colera and still have most of the crew at hand, was fickle and likely to leave them imperiled soon enough. Having Mullins challenge her desire to take what they had and make run for it did not sit well with her.
“And why should we not make haste?” Hope asked Mullins.
“After what this dog said to spare his life,” he said as he jostled his Spanish prisoner, “we’d be damned fools to flee now without the riches he claims he can lead us to.”
She rolled her eyes, then cast them at Abigail. She seemed stable, not full of vigor but by no means ready to die yet.
“Forgive me,” she whispered to her, “if my living up to your example kills you.”
She took a breath to steady herself, planted her knee as she got to one foot, and asked Mullins, “Where are these riches he promises?”
The Spaniard seemed to have read the hard lines in Hope’s face and blurted out in a panic, “El pozo seco! El pozo seco! Por el amor de Dios, está en el pozo seco!”
“Can someone get him to calm down and be more precise?” she asked with annoyance.
Samuel stepped up to him and spoke in low tones that Hope couldn’t hear. She took the moment to provide comfort to Abigail, who looked weak but focused.
Charity came over and asked, “Comment fait-elle?”
“I’m not used to seeing her like this, so listless.”
“I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen both men and women who have drunk their weight in spirits who were less lively than that.”
“If ye’ve got some rumbullion,” Abigail said softly, “I’d be keen for it.”
“Maybe there’s some with the rest of the treasure,” said Hope, trying to smile.
Samuel finished his talk with the prisoner and came over. “The esbirro says he used to be one of his confidants,” he nodded at de Colera’s corpse. “He said the ecomendero had a few places on the property where he put aside some of his wealth, so that no matter how his fortunes would go he’d always have something he could draw upon. And he was responsible for guarding one of his stashes.”
“How trustworthy is he?” Charity asked.
“A man whose life is threatened has no reason to hide anything.”
“Or feels he has nothing to lose,” said Hope. “Either way, his loose talk of treasure is enough to rile the rest of the men. We’ve little to gain if we stand in the way of their greed.”
“So it looks like we’re going to the dry well he’s talking about,” said Samuel.
“For his sake, that well had better have something in it. Or it will if I find he lied to us about it.”
“That is very much what she would say, no?” Charity noted with a nod to Abigail.
“And will say again once she’s better. I may need a hand here with Abigail; if someone could-”
“Should we bother?” asked de Flanders.
“Should we even bother to bring her with us?”
There was a deadening silence blanketing the air…
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