Part 279

Part the Two Hundred Seventy Ninth: Waiting for the Janissaries

“You’d think what we felt when we were coming ashore would not be surpassed by this,” Charity whispered to Hope.

Hope did not reply.  She refused to acknowledge the sensation of the water finding every possible embarrassing fold it could run through and collect in, threatening to ply her open like a river running a trough in its bed.

All she could give Charity was a grunt and a quick, sharp glance to get her to turn her attention elsewhere.

She tried to ignore the tinglings, the flash freezes and other discomforts as she dug her heels into the sand and put the back of both shoulders against the hull to dislodge the Black Swallow from her grounding.  Despite her effort, along with Charity, Osei, Samuel and Goddard, the ship refused to make its way to deeper water.

The rest of the crew were in the launch, the ship’s anchor placed aboard it to stern to allow it to tow the Swallow.  Despite their best efforts, the sloop stayed stuck.

“By God, this is maddening!” Hope finally declared after one near-perfect effort at coordinating by the pushers and the rowers.  “Are we to be entirely at the mercy of the tide?”

“Many sailors are,” said Samuel.  “My only comfort I can provide, is that if they wanted to pursue us by ship, they’d also be so limited by low tide.”

“I wish I could be comforted by that,” she replied, without adding anything more salacious and embarrassing about how he could comfort her despite the urges, “but I’m not about to risk any of our lives on that assumption.”

“There may not be a choice,” said Osei.  “Some things so matter what we wish are beyond us, and the best we can do is adjust.”

“Forgive me for saying this, but our imminent capture and our fate after that are not something I want to just accept.”

“Would we had other means, then,” said Jukes, who had been holding down the anchor in the launch, which was now drifting closer in to the Swallow.  “Unless you can summon a Janissary corps to provide an engineering miracle, then Mr. Osei’s statement must, therefore, stand.”

“A what corps?”

“The Janissaries, an elite element of the Ottoman Empire’s army, have among them not only troops that fight the main battle for their Sultan, but specialists that allow them to wage war efficiently.  Such specialists build bridges, clear woods and do other wonders that had before been done by the Roman legions that inspired them.”

“Are you saying,” said Hope as she floated forward towards the launch, “that we need some special skills in this case, some form of deep knowledge beyond us?”

“Just an observation, my dear.  I’m sure with patience, the tide will favor us eventually.”

Hope tread water between the launch and the Swallow for a while as the sun climbed steadily over the hills to the east.

“Perhaps we need a moment’s rest,” Osei finally declared.  “We’ve done about all we can, and until the tide comes there’s not much more that-”

Hope heard nothing more as she quickly dove under the surface, keeping her eyes opened this time as she made her way to the keel.

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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