Hope blinked, then looked back and forth between her captain and the fruit Sanders had loosened atop the coconut tree. “You can have that coconut all to yourself,” Sanders said, “provided you can get it down from there.”
Hope looked agape at Sanders. “Surely you must be mad or mistaken,” she said. “Perhaps if I were in breeches such as you, I might, but even before you sent most of my possessions into the water I had none. And I dare not think I can mount a tree in these skirts.”
“Then take them off,” Sanders replied.
Hope blanched. “I beg your pardon!”
“It be just us here. The rest of the crew be taking their liberty elsewhere, and I can give you my word if you feel you need it that I be facing out to the water as you bare your modesty.”
Hope tried to take a read of Sanders, examining her face, trying to look beyond it to weigh what she said. Many thoughts raced through Hope’s head as she considered what was asked of her, and what was happening to her.
Hope took a breath as she came to her conclusion…
She reached for a large scallop shell at her feet, nearly flat with an edge that came to a fine point, and gave it a sharp throw let it fly at the coconut.
The shell found its mark, the strand holding the fruit to the tree, and snapped it. The coconut fell to the sand, a dull thud followed by moist sand spreading out from the fruit.
Sanders picked up the prize with a slight smile. “Resourceful, aye,” she said to Hope. “Mind ye, not every tree or mast will have a shell handy to hurl at it.”
“I cannot believe that you would ask me to disrobe,” said Hope. “If there be design behind this request, you had best be true about it.”
“Very well,” said Sanders, “I shall. Hope, you best be thinking about adopting breeches. The dresses you wear can be a danger in heavy action, mainly to yourself. And we best not be losing a musician to mishap.”
Hope blinked a few times before she said, “So why not just plainly ask me this, then?”
“Because for me, example and experience were the best teachers I knew. I could be told things o’er and o’er again, and not be any the wiser until I learned it the hard way.” She smiled before she said to Hope, “Mind you, a clever woman like you, might take a lot to see you fail at something.”
Hope looked at her with different eyes. Whether it was as simple as being ashore with her, not on the deck of her ship, or the words she said, it seemed as though a set of lenses had been placed before her.
“As I said, though,” said Hope, “I have no breeches with me.”
“I may have a pair I can offer,” said Abigail, “and when next we come upon a treasure, I can see to it that a pair in your size be among the booty we take.”
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan