Part 294

Part the Two Hundred Ninety Fourth: Hope Considers As She Closes

“Heave into her with the wind,” said Osei as the Black Swallow slackened the line tethering the launch to her.

In the launch’s stern, Hope steadied herself on the aft seat, using one hand to keep the coals upright.  The line pulling the launch tightened like the hangman’s rope doing its business, a brief image she quickly banished from her mind…

She watched the way Osei took on the command of the crew, how well he got the rest of them to follow him.  She wondered how, if given a chance, she could get a crew to snap to it the way he could.

Part of her wondered if there ever could be a way she could do that, whether such a wish was as likely to be granted as a wish for being crowned Empress over all of Europe or to be bestowed the mantle of a demigoddess.  The thought of how much easier this task would be had either of those wishes been granted lingered for a bit.

In her mind’s wanderings, she felt a part of her had answered the question as to how he could get the men to respond so well, and why she could not.  It was an unpleasant part that did not sit well, like finding a rat darting out from behind the drapery.

She scoffed at that.  Certainly if Abigail could command ten times as many men, then what was to stop her from being able to do so too?

Yes, she considered, Abigail did command ten times as many men, with Osei as her quartermaster…

She shook her head violently; being astern a launch full of gunpowder heading towards a galleon that she was trying to blow up was not one of the better times to consider how fair the universe was…

As the Swallow’s sails filled, Hope unfurled the lug rig.  The head of the winds the launch picked up allowed it to slacken the line that had been towing it behind the sloop.

As they got closer, Hope could see the Casa more clearly.  She had just cleared the narrowest part of the channel, though she hadn’t yet come close to the point where the fortress sat at the entrance.  There was still some distance to go before she got to open water and became more of a threat; Hope wondered if there was some way to hasten both vessels to close on the galleon before she became a greater threat to-

To her amazement, the Casa started to change heading to starboard, slowly but with deliberation, putting her bow towards the western shore of the channel.  With wonder she watched as her prey held her position, her features coming more fully into view, able to spy some of the men on her quarterdeck.

She wondered what act of Providence had made the Spaniards so willing to grant her crew a boon…

…until she saw the ship’s six pounders roll out and face them…

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