Part the Seventy Third: Charles is No More
Hope felt something move the air as it struck the quarterdeck. Through the fire and smoke, she could not tell what until the prow of the Casa del Sol made it past the sinking stern of the galleon that exploded. Two more explosions, softer than the one the hulk made but no less worrisome, had come from the galleon.
With the smoke dissipating and the Casa coming closer, Hope could now make out what happened. The Spaniards atop the quarterdeck of the Casa fired two swivel guns mounted forward.
“FIRE!” Osei commanded. Four shots rang out from the musketeers, one round from Kelly felling a Spaniard who stood over the swivel gun.
While the surviving crews of the swivel guns scattered from the returned fire, atop the prow of the Casa stood a single figure. His facial features were hard to make out in the smoke from the hulk, and the growing distance between the Casa and the Gale made the task more difficult. All anyone from the Gale could see was his dark jet hair and decorated breastplate as he took an imposing stand atop the prow.
Briefly, Sanders stood next to the tiller, responding to his appearance with a challenging stand of her own. She looked as though she was taking her position just before a duel was to commence-
Sanders left her stance when Hope screamed, pointing to Charles down on the deck. Hope could not help but point with one hand, dropping the rammer to do so, while the other put her hand before her mouth.
“Belay that!” Sanders growled at Hope. “Get ye righted until we be clear of the Casa!”
Without prompting, Samuels bent over Charles and started to examine him. “I see holes in the shirt…” he started to say before he withdrew a long knife from his instrument kit and started to cut away at it.
Only Sanders did not stand around Samuels and Charles, manning the tiller to keep with the wind and flee the Casa. She did turn to watch the procedure when she could between course adjustments.
When the shirt was cut away, the observers saw that Charles’ chest was wound tightly with a bolt of cloth, into which some of the shot had borne through. Samuels used his knife to remove the cloth to get to the skin…
The gasp from the observers of the surgery sounded like yet another shot as under the cloth were revealed two breasts. Beneath the left breast, the pellets of shot had left a bruise.
Hope felt herself go weak as Samuels loosened Charles’ breeches in order to confirm the sex. Samuels brought Charles’ breeches back up to cover her region and used the remnants of her shirt to restore her modesty.
“The wound appears superficial,” said Samuels.
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan