Part 276

Part the Two Hundred Seventy Sixth: Up From the Depths

“No-no-no,” Hope started to screech, then repeated calmly, “no… no… no.  Not now, not after coming all this way, we’re not.  This is not how this will end.”

“The Spanish,” Samuel asked, “you think they heard us?”

“I have to imagine they did.  Why should our luck suddenly change now?”

“We need to make our way back to the Swallow,” said Goddard.

“Will it be difficult with the chest?”

Niet echt, not if we take it to the launch we found.  We wouldn’t need their provisions and it could get the eleven of us to the ship if we’re careful.”

“How fast can we get the chest up top?” Hope asked.

“A few good pulls without distraction should do.”

“It’s the distraction, that’s what worries me.  We need to keep the Spaniards away.”

“I think I can be of help with that,” said Jukes as he revealed three small sacks with lumps and a fuse sticking out of each.

“Will they still be frightened off by their noise?”

“Probably not, but as I intend to use two to set fire to the brush, I rather think the smoke and flames should do the trick.”

“Then get us a wall of flame to protect us while we get ourselves gathered and gone,” said Hope as she walked away from the pit.

She turned and faced the crew before they could say anything to her.  “I have to tend to Abigail,” she told them, “and that’s more important now than anything else.  And if anyone has an objection-”

The crew shook their heads and acquiesced with sounds of submission as they turned to the problem of the box beneath them.

She returned to the side of her captain and checked to make sure her haste didn’t do her in.  Abigail’s eyes were still opened but moved slowly, her breathing hard but steady.

Hope cradled her in her arms and said softly, “I am sorry my head got the better of me.  I won’t drop you in future, you have my word.”

“Going… soon…?” Abigail asked weakly.  “Need-”

“Shhh, shhh, there, there,” Hope comforted her.  “We’re getting you out of here soon, and we’ll be on the seas shortly.”

“Where?”

“At sea, plying the sweet trade.”

“Where?”

Hope sighed.  “On the water, where we can go after more ships and keep at-”

Abigail’s sudden grip on Hope’s shirt shocked her silent.

“What… port?” Abigail asked, her teeth clenched.  Hope couldn’t tell if it was out of annoyance or pain…

“I… I don’t know, yet, I… I’m sorry.”

“Decide… soon, before we… sail.”

Hope tried to nod but couldn’t get her head to move.

It took the false dawn of the burning bushes and leaves to get her to move.  Silhouetted by the fire, she watched as the crew finished pulling the box from the pit and brought Mullins, Mason and Jack up from below.

She struggled to hoist Abigail’s arm over her shoulders as she rose.  “Where’s de Flanders?”

“Should we bring his body with us?” Mullins asked.

She sighed.  “This is as close to a burial as we could give him given the circumstances.  I think he’d offer me the same were our places switched.”

She didn’t think the crew heard the bitterness she said that with, and let it lay there…

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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