Part 54

Part the Fifty Fourth: Hope Walks the Decks



“Ye should be happy that we have water again,” said Abigail as she drank her rumbullion.


“I thought you were going to drink more of the water,” said Hope as looked out the cabin’s rear window. 


“And I am,” said Abigail as she laid out one of the French charts alongside another rutter with Spanish writing on it.  Between the two was a bound chapbook with pages on which Abigail was jotting down figures with a quill.  “I be cutting the rumbullion with water, allowing for both to go further.”


“And you don’t notice the difference?”


“Oh aye, there be differences.  And if I wanted that kind of comfort, I’d be going for it straight on.”


Hope waited for Abigail to say more, but her captain concentrated fully on her charts, making notes under the candle light.  The only sound for some time after was of Osei and Campbell’s footfalls on the quarterdeck above them as they manned the tiller.


Hope got up to leave without a word.


“Mind how ye go to the head,” was all Abigail said to Hope as she left the cabin. 


Hope felt relief as she walked out on deck, having expected to be thoroughly pilloried by Captain Sanders for her earlier indiscretion.


As she closed the cabin door, Hope saw the Gale doing a good clip in a steady close starboard wind.  With so little pitch as the ship headed into the night, she wondered what Abigail could have been warning her about.


As Hope walked toward the bow, she saw Goor halfway out the hatch, leaning on his elbows while talking to Simon, who had his back against the gunwales as he smoked a pipe.  They both looked at her and nodded before they continued their conversation in Dutch.


Hope caught herself looking down the hatch as she went by the two men.  She hoped she would catch sight of Charles as she went by, get another look of him as she made her way to the privy.  Part of her hoped that he would be on deck after she took care of her business, that she would find when she was done, and then she and he-


As she tried to finish the sentence, Abigail’s warning came back to Hope with great force.  At that, her casual comment felt far worse than any direct statement she might have received…


Hope stood there against the starboard gunwales, not sure if she should continue towards the bow or head back to Abigail’s cabin.  Part of her wanted to plead for forgiveness, the guilt in her tearing at her insides.


Only a part of her, though.  She thought about the woman back in the cabin, who had earned her right to captain this ship.  Watching Abigail flaunt authority and the natural order of things had been inspiring, Hope realized, emboldening even.


And watching her stand up and saying no to others left Hope to question: How could she not live up to such an inspiration by saying no to Abigail?

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All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan


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