Part 36

Part the Thirty Sixth: The Preparations for Going Ashore

“Mister Folard,” commanded Osei, “choose your hands for your inspection before we break into foraging parties.”

Folard the Master Carpenter walked with a limp through the assembled body of the Raging Gale’s crew, sizing up each man with a considered look. “Mangin,” he announced with a long finger pointing to him, then completed his party, “Bentinck, Zoutman, Owen and Soubise.”

“There could be a problem if we be finding anything after your tour,” noted Captain Sanders. “We be needing Mister Soubise with the barrels as we get provisions.”

“He’s useful for the petit fixes,” said Folard. “She’s not showing signs of strain, so the ship, she not be needing much. If there be need for him as cooper, then he’s yours, mademoiselle.”

Merci,” said Sanders. “As for the rest, ye find ye mates to work with and start to forage. I be taking with me Collins, Mesnil, Zoutman and Harvey.”

Hope stared wide-eyed in astonishment for a moment before she stated, “But- but I don’t know what to look for. And I’ve not the experience with any heavy lifting of anything we might find.”

“And if ye never come along to forage, ye’ll not be getting any sense of what would be needed.”

Hope looked down for a second at the deck. It bought her enough time to reply, “I need to see to my instrument first. That might take me some time.”

Sanders looked her up and down as though she were studying a map. “I be needing a moment to figure how best we be stowing the provisions. I can give ye some of that, and be expecting ye to come with us then.”

Hope put the cittern in her lap and started to tune her instrument. She struck the strings, took it out of tune, then fidgeted with the tuning pegs to keep the cittern from getting just the right note, keeping an eye on Captain Sanders, timing her tuning the one last out of tune string with the captain’s preparations-

“So ye be staying aboard while the rest of them go looking for food, eh?” asked Andrews as he sat himself next to Hope.

Hope looked into Andrews’ eyes as he righted himself on the deck; the look reminded her of a dog going after scraps…

“Mind ye, I know a few I could teach ye. Songs, I mean. There’s one I’d heard called ‘The Rover’s Ashore.’ It’s about a sailor’s shore leave, ye see…”

Hope watched as Andrews picked up the hand that steadied him on the deck, then put it down closer to her, almost upon her knee.

“I be meaning, it be us ashore here, us two. Oh, there be lots to do aboard ship, but there’s half a day ye get, even with all that need be done and then some.”

Andrews shifted a little closer.

“That give us plenty of time to be doing other things. Singing, maybe. Other things, too…”

Hope swore she felt something touch her the wrong way, even though she never saw Andrews’ hands come closer to her.

Quickly, she put the last string in tune and jumped up off the deck. “Ready to go ashore,” Hope announced to Captain Sanders…

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