Part 286

Part the Two Hundred Eighty Sixth: Words the Captain Said

“You surprise me, Mister Mullins,” Jukes said to him right in front of Hope as she guided the Black Swallow out of Santiago Bay.  “Talking so quickly about our doom.”

“A dire fate for the ship did seem likely,” he replied.  “The question of our survival needed to be addressed.”

“When, may I ask, would we have had time to survive while we were contemplating our lives?”

“I had a captain once who used to tell us our days on earth were ending when things were dire.  He found such claims cleared our heads and made us sharper, more likely to find a way out of our predicament quickly.”

“That’s how he would motivate the crew?” Charity asked in disbelief.

“And yet,” said Jukes, “are we not always in danger during every minute we are at sea?  I would commend the man if I could for such brilliant thinking.”

“Ah, well,” said Mullins, “he did use such measures far too often.  The crew did not care for his constant claiming our doom was upon us, and he was parleyed out of his captaincy.  I heard soon after he took up with a ministry and-”

“Gentlemen!” Hope snapped.  “This is indeed an interesting conversation about how to motivate a crew, but is this the right time for it?”

“Well, we are now on our way across open water,” said Jukes, “and the fortress seems to have stopped firing at us.”

“And what, may I ask, of the Casa?  What is she doing now?”

The expression Hope saw on Jukes’ face told her that he only now realized, as he gazed astern, that he was the last member of the crew giving the pursuing galleon the proper thought.

She held the tiller hard as she spun round to see for herself what the Casa was doing…

She felt her jaw clench as she watched her pursuer unfurl her extra jibs.  The same extra jibs she displayed before she came down upon the Raging Gale

“She’s still light,” Hope said.

“Come again?” asked Samuel.

“I see, yes,” said Osei.  “She still rides the way she did when she came after us.  Under gunned but still fast.”

“And if we were still the Gale that would be a more pleasant thought than it is now,” said Hope.  “But I fear the Swallow may not do as well against her.”

“One word about us meeting our doom,” Charity said to Mullins, “and Je vais vous couper ouverte!”

“Not feeling it is yet time to take up a ministry in Virginia,” Mullins replied, “I shall not.”

“Let’s consider our plans after we make our way,” said Hope.  “The one advantage we have is a head start and hopefully a swifter speed.”

“And if she proves fast enough to swoop upon us?” Jukes asked.

“Then we make her pay for pursuing us.”

Hope and the rest of the crew stopped as the new speaker followed up the suggestion with a slight cough.

She stared ahead and could barely say the first thing that came to her mind.

“Abigail…”

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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