Part the Eleventh: A Different Singing Rings Out
Two days passed, and on each day Hope played for the crew of the Raging Gale on the deck. On the second day she played one song right into another, providing nearly continuous music through high noon.
“Ye could take a break now, if ye wanted,” Captain Sanders said.
Hope was keeping her distance from Captain Sanders as best she could, still perturbed by her questions before, and she was starting to get unnerved at the way this woman could read her at a glance and know what she was thinking. She wondered if she had been a witch before going to sea…
“It is after all your choice to-“
“Don’t try and tell me about choice,” Hope snapped. “Because truth to tell, there is none. If I refused to play, you’d make me work on the decks, and if I were really disobedient I would be going over the side, wouldn’t I?”
Captain Sanders just stood there and looked at her. “And the point being?” Captain Sanders finally asked.
Hope gave a sigh and went back to her instrument. “Not that there’s anything else to do on board this ship,” she said gruffly.
“Aye, and that’s why ye be doing this, lass,” said the captain before she went to the tiller.
Hope strummed two more pieces, slow sets this time. They were not so much actual songs as they were bars that Hope strung together. She tried to make sure that she looked like she knew what she was doing, lest the witch-captain see through this as well…
At the end of the second set of bars, Hope gave it a rest and let the sun warm her. She imagined what would happen when the captain realized she wasn’t playing anymore, how the witch would use a spell to make her play on against her will. The more she let her mind play with the notion, the worse she imagined the penalty for refusing to play: She imagined herself being bespelled to dance, or even turned into wood and mounted as the masthead afore the Raging Gail, doomed to a life of water splashed on her as the ship plied the waves…
Hope wondered if it would be any worse than the more likely fate to befall her, being forced to swab the deck…
The cries she heard woke her from her horrid daydreams. “I’ll play, I’ll play,” she murmured as she opened her eyes-
Whether she was playing or not seemed not to matter to the crew as they took to the side of the ship and leaned over the side. She listened better to hear what they were saying.
“Two masts!” she heard Bosfelt call from the lookout atop the mainmast. “Square-rigs!”
“See ye any colors yet?” Captain Sanders called up.
“How fast is she on her heading?”
“Seven knots,” Bosfelt called.
“She sounds like a flyut,” the captain called out. “Give me her points and heading!”
“She be running with the wind, heading to port.”
“She’s coming in from the east,” she called to the crew. “Full rig tight, lads. Mister Collins, have the guns loaded. Prepare to engage!”
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan