Part the Two Hundred Seventy Fifth: The Well of Despair
They all happened so quickly, one atop the other, blurring into a whirr.
When Hope finally realized she needed to hang the two pistols around her neck and stop pointing them at her crew indiscriminately, a commotion came from the bottom of the well as she started to secure her guns.
“It’s loose! It’s loose!” said de Flanders beneath her.
“And she’s rather big,” said Mullins. “We’ll be needing a hand to get her topside.”
“How do you mean?” she called down.
“The line we grabbed on our way from the stores near the smithy. There’s a handle on her we can tie it too, and have a few hands pull her up while we give her a boost below.”
“Where’s the line now?” Hope asked.
“I have it,” said Goddard.
She pointed down into the well, but before she could say anything he fed the line below.
A few quick moments later, cries came from the hole in the earth, and the line was grasped by all available hands, save Osei who continued to cradle Abigail.
Hope took her place on the line between Samuel and Charity and digging her heels into the ground on the count of three, put her back into pulling the chest up to the surface. There was scant progress, however, after five jerks.
“I’ve fought booms during gales with less heft,” said Goddard as Hope felt the rope burn her hands. “This may be too well lodged in there to get up.”
“Take a moment,” Hope said, then called down, “Can you loosen her more before we try again?”
“We’ll try,” said de Flanders.
“While they do that,” she said aloud to everyone topside, “I’ll take over, Osei. I think you’re better suited for that task than I.”
After Abigail was laid down and Hope propped her captain’s shoulders, Osei took her position on the line as they readied another for another set of jerks.
“Always keep them happy,” she said to Abigail. “Make them feel they’ve got something to show for themselves at the end of it.”
Abigail gave a thinning smile…
There was a cry from over the well as everyone manning the line started to haul the chest up.
There were other voices off in the distance that Hope could just make out, speaking in Spanish.
The Spanish prisoner heard them too, and leapt to his feet, despite his hands being tied behind his back, and started to dash off past the treasure haulers towards the distant din.
Hope rose quickly and started to steady one of her guns to fire at him.
Before she could cock the hammer, Charity abandoned the line, pulled a thin knife and drew it across his throat before he could cry out.
Blood from the Spaniard’s throat sprayed the crew atop the well as the surprise slackened their hold on the line.
Hope ran to the well and looked down into it. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“We’ve lost de Flanders,” said Mason. “He took the worst of the chest’s fall; there’s not much of his head left.”
Hope noted quickly that the Spaniards in the distance sounded like they were getting closer; and, to boot, that Abigail may have banged her head when she left her side quickly.
Hope started to panic…
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