Part the Thirty Seventh: Hope is Tested by Sanders
“Nay, ye did fine,” said Captain Sanders, walking to Hope’s right, her boots off and immersed in the inlet’s water. “You may not have known what to look for as we went inland, but you had your back and arms at the call when we needed them.”
“And I dropped that skin of water as Christophe handed it to me.”
“Aye, well, Mister Mesnil was kind enough about that. He took well to being doused in the water, and the skin was aright and refilled.”
Hope sighed. “I suppose I was never meant to be a real pirate, was I?”
“Is that so? And how good a farmer might you have been, had ye gone on to Carolina?”
Hope froze in her tracks; the crunching of sand between her toes as they tightened gave her arches abrasions.
“Ah, that’s right: You’d not be doing any actual farming on that estate, would ye?”
“I thin-“ Hope started to say. But she sighed instead and changed track with, “No, I rather doubt I would have.”
“So think of it this way,” said Sanders as she crossed in front of Hope and walked on the beach to her port, “If ye do end up a farmer after all, the more of this you do, the better you’ll be at it.”
“Somehow, I think doing this would rather make me a better sailor.”
Sanders broke into a wide smile. “Ah, but an ex-freebooter be more likely to end up on a farm than on a ship. Once you been on the account, there be no crew under another’s flag that will have ye willingly.”
“And just what, pray tell, would a life at sea prepare me for on a farm?”
Sanders gave a smiling glance around the beach before she focused on a tree ahead of her. It bore no branches, its bare trunk extending at an angle from the sand line over the beach for a few yards before being crowned in long green palms and brown hard fruit.
“There be this,” she said before she gave a few quick hops to the tree and started to climb it, her feet on the trunk with her knees to her chest and her hands extended and holding the trunk. “If ye be wanting to get some produce, Hope, than ye better be good and getting it from the trees.” And with that she started to shimmy her way to the top.
Hope came closer to watch her from below as she worked the trunk, the way she had watched her and other crewmen make their way up the mast. Hope watched Sanders make her way to the top, grab one of the fruits and give it a few twists. It stayed at the top, but hung only by a strip of fiber now as Sanders worked her way down the tree.
“Now, Hope,” she said as she dismounted the trunk, “the rest be up to you to finish.”
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan