Part the Seventh: Hope is Revealed to the Pirates
The captain opened the ornately painted box that was left on deck after most of Hope’s personal possessions were cast over the side.
Hope seethed as the captain removed the contents and examined it. She expected a derisive remark, and Hope imagined what would happen next: The indignity would be too much to bear, leading to her attacking Osei and freeing herself from his grip to go after the captain. Hope imagined that at best, she’d grab and pull the captain’s long orange hair but once before she drew her gentleman’s short sword and plunge it into her gut, then she would feel sharp pain as the salt water entered her bleeding wound after she was tossed overboard…
The wait for the remark to spell her doom grew more agonizing with every second she counted before it came.
The captain finally said, “So, lass, can ye play it?”
To Hope’s relief, the captain held the cittern by the neck upright. Its body, normally deep red when she would play it by candlelight back home, seemed almost orange in the sunlight.
Hope relaxed slightly before she said, “Yes. Yes, I can play that, thank you.”
“Care to give us a piece, then?”Hope felt Osei’s grip loosen as those crew who had thrown her clothes from the deck watched. She walked over to the captain and removed her cittern from the captain’s hand.
“I need a seat,” said Hope.
“Less so than rolling overboard would be, lass,” said the captain.
Before the joke could elicit a laugh from the crew, Hope quickly took a seat on the main deck. She took a second to make sure the instrument was in tune, then played a song, a sad one she remembered, but dared not sing the words to lest she give the pirates reason to take the instrument away.
The mellow notes Hope played did not have the usual sound she remembered from when she had performed before, back in halls of the country home she grew up in back in England. Out here in the open sea, with nothing to hold them as they bounced off the ceiling, the notes drifted over the waves as the ship sailed on.
When she finished, the crew said nothing. The only sounds she heard were the waves as the ship broke them as it sailed on.
The captain finally spoke, “Fair ‘nuf, lass. Ye found ye a place on the ship for your time among us as the musician.”
“And why, may I ask,” said Hope, still shaken by the whole ordeal, “would I be willing to spend my time playing for you?”
The captain nodded to one of her men, who turned around and produced a rounded rock, which he tossed at Hope. The rock rolled in front of her and came to rest against her leg.
“And this means…?” asked Hope
“That be a holystone,” said the captain. “If ye not be accounting for yourself with music for the crew, then ye be making yourself useful otherwise swabbing the deck, on ye knees as though before God.”
Hope looked at the holystone like it was a rabid animal about to bite her…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan