Part the Nineteenth: Captain Sanders Recalls Edwin
“I owe him me life.” Captain Sanders continued with her story. “Not just that I’m alive, but that I am here. Would that he could see me now…
“He was an amazing man, me Edwin,” she said as she gave one last look to the scabbard before turning her gaze to Hope through the candle flame. “He was every bit a sailor, but also a man who knew when he saw potential in something, and had a willingness to try it.
“We met a few years ago, in Nieu Amsterdam, and when we saw each other across the way it was as though we knew what Fate had writ for us. He was bold, and I was willing, and soon we were finding ways to be together that did not draw attention to ourselves. We’d taken to finding a spot near the wall where we would come together, and more importantly after we joined we would spend time in each others’ arms, talking and sharing what we knew.”
“The wall,” Captain Sanders said with a sigh. ” ‘T was the stockade that separated the colony from the natives to the north. We’d found a shed near there where we could have private moments, and it was after one such time I told him how I wanted to be at sea. He and I came up with a plan, how I would bind meself up and cut me hair to pass as a lad, and he would sign with me, and then we’d sail for ports to the south where crew could more easily come and go.
“And within two days I was no longer Abigail Sanders for a time, but Johan Smyth aboard a merchantman to Sint Maarten, and Edwin was able to claim that as the son of a good friend I was under his special care, which meant that what time we had alone we were able to make the most of without drawing undue attention.
“But once we got to Sint Maarten, we had to choose with whom we could go, carefully lest we got found and the both of us suffered for it. So when we heard that the privateer Captain Dyck was looking for crew to go on account against the English, we signed the articles right there.”
“You willing went after English ships?” asked Hope. “How could you do that, born in England as you were?”
“I was more concerned about being born a woman,” Sanders replied, “and subject to worse than the English would get should Dyck’s men discover that. We did our best with that crew to cover our activities, with few ever suspecting us.”
“You were almost found out?”
“There was one, a slave who had become part of the crew once he earned back his value after joining them. But from the first, Osei was and is to me a man, not a good, and so because to me he was an equal, he never felt the need to share his suspicions about what Edwin and I were doing when we were alone.
“And for that, when the fateful day came, he was the right man to have with me when it all changed…”
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan