Part the Two Hundred Seventy Seventh: The Running From the Nose
Hope fought the confusion assaulting her nose.
The air was perfumed with essences that were dark and crisp, along with cold and sour auras. The smell of burning brush tinged with coal powder struggled in her nostrils with whiffs from the chest. How much of what she smelled was the caked earth on its cover as opposed to the blood and bits of de Flanders’ head sticking to the corner, she did not want to guess…
Hope decided right there that her nose had to be ignored as well. It was added to the list of parts of her body not being acknowledged, along with her ears for not shutting out the sounds of Spaniards yelling as they tried to cross the wall of flames before them, her knees for screaming in pain as she struggled to keep Abigail upright while moving over rough country as fast as possible, and her lungs for failing to provide the air she needed to keep herself from collapse.
A brief moment of fear gripped Hope as she felt Abigail lighten over her shoulders, and she used her left hand to grip her wrist tightly. The fear fled when she looked over and saw that Charity was to her captain’s right taking up the load.
“Eh bien, elle n’est pas si lourde!” Charity noted as she adjusted her speed to stay lateral with Hope.
“A few good meals when we get there, and she’ll be her old self again,” Hope replied.
“Yes, a few good meals, some proper ones, and she’ll be better in no time.”
“I ask again, where?” Charity said, with a tone in her voice that Hope insisted to herself was just the result of having to run and haul at the same time.
“Yes, when we get there, we will-”
The sound of a musket ball snapping a branch above them, sending it on the heads of the three of them, ended both Charity’s questions and Hope’s denials.
The pace did not slow until Hope and Charity got in to the water up to their knees. Goddard was in the launch, and helped heave Abigail over the edge and into the craft.
Hope helped Charity on board, and was lifted over the edge afterwards by Osei and Mullins.
“Are we all here?” she asked.
“Aye,” said Mason. “We had to dump most of the provisions in her to get us all in, but we’re here and afloat.”
“I don’t suppose there were oars collected by the runaways before they met their demise.”
“Just paddles,” said Osei, “and improvised ones at that. They were limited in what they could get.”
“How many do we have among us?”
“Six,” said Samuel.
Hope sighed. “That won’t get us there fast enough, will it?”
“We can try,” said Mullins.
“Yes, there is that. Let us get going before it’s too late.”
To her surprise, the six paddles found the right sets of hands to get the launch under way quickly, and soon the craft made headway from the shore.
She cradled Abigail’s head in her lap and bent down over her face. “Soon,” she said to her captain, “soon we’ll be safe.”
Hope couldn’t tell as the launch rowed on if Abigail was paying attention while she stroked her hair…
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