Part the Two Hundred Eightieth: The Nereid Revealed
Hope could not hear whether the crew shouted at her when she went under.
If they did express shock, dismay or even surprise, she did not consider the matter. Jukes’ words about the miracles of the Janissaries were enough for her to take matters into her own hands, to make an effort to do something beyond just waiting for the tide.
And she thought as she swam under the water, that even if she were to drown doing this, that that would be a better fate than the alternative…
After her probes of the hull, between what she saw and felt with her extended fingers, she broke surface where she went under and took a deep breath before she announced, “I think I know how we can break free.”
No one replied; she noted the stunned look on their faces in reaction to her dive and decided to plow ahead.
“I think there are a few rocks in the sand that may be holding the ship back,” she continued. “I don’t know if these alone will make that much of a difference, but if we could get them loosened, dislodge these stones, we might have a better chance.”
There was naught but stunned silence that greeted her as she tread water between the launch and the Black Swallow.
“Very well,” she finally said. “If you are willing and able, I expect your assistance,” she announced before she took a deep breath and broke the surface again.
She made her way to where her fingers found a large rock, near the keel and mostly buried in the sand. She whisked what she could away from the rock in order to grip around its tip before the need for air drove her to break the surface.
After she replenished her lungs, she said, “Any time you are willing to assist, I will be glad to see you under the water,” before she grabbed a few more breaths and returned to the bottom.
After a few moments struggle, she got her hands and feet in position and started to heave at the stone. Once, twice, three times she made the effort, and before the need for air became desperate she managed to raise the stone close to an inch above its last position.
When she broke the surface, she said nothing that time. She concentrated solely on getting as much air as possible before her next dive.
Once more underwater, she resumed her position and made a major go at it. Before she could give the second jerk, she felt another set of hands over hers, at least three, and while she barely felt them exert as much pressure on the stone as she did their presence was enough to prod the rock from its bed and flip it over.
She was the last one to break the surface and found her breathing less desperate than Charity’s, Samuel’s or Osei’s.
“Right,” she said calmly after a few breaths. “Let’s see if this makes a difference, shall we?”
The crew in the water resumed their positions against the Swallow’s hull as the launch pulled taut the tow line.
And this time, the ship slid a few yards…
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