“So how did the Suzanne come to chase that sloop?” Sanders asked Samuels.
“Our captain was given information in Eleuthera about the vessel,” replied Samuels, “the Santa Cecelia, from some of her former crew. Knowing that captain’s habits and methods, he plotted a course based on the information provided by these curs to take her on the high seas, out of sight of the Spanish.”
“He must have been a great sea artist to have plotted so precisely such a course.”
Samuels sniffed derisively. “When he wasn’t drunk he was looking to Providence to grant him luck. The whole night before the battle he sought privacy to make deals with the Almighty, promising anything should the venture succeed.”
“Seems he got his wish,” said Osei, “at a very dear price.”
“See ye anything alive aboard the sloop?” Sanders called to the rigging as the Gale closed in on the other ship.
“Ja,” said Bosfelt. “There be those struggling in pain like turtles on their back.”
“What shall we do with them?” Osei asked Sanders.
“Even with a surgeon now, that be too many men needing ministry for us to take them on,” she said as she gently nudged the tiller to pull alongside the sloop. “We can leave them what they need for a few days’ worth, and should He be merciful, then they will be delivered. But have yer blades ready as ye go aboard, in case there be resistance.”
After the Gale grappled the sloop, the crew stepped aboard cautiously, their blades drawn and ready. What few men were alive and sprawled on the deck looked up at them with resignation, fully expecting to die that day. No member of the Gale‘s crew asked any man if he had sailed on the Suzanne or the Santa Cecelia, for once the sloop was plundered all their fates were bound together aboard the sloop as it drifted away.
Hope found herself next to Charles as the two of them stood on the sloop’s deck. She leaned against him to keep from slipping on the puddles of blood collecting on deck.
“There be cloth as part of the booty,” said Goor to Andrews as he carried three bolts of shiny blue material in his arms. “Can you believe such as this?”
Hope put up her hand to halt Goor and looked closely at the materials. “It’s silk,” she said. “It looks like Oriental silk.”
“Oriental, you say?” asked Mesnil? “You know what that may look like?”
“Why, what of it?”
Mesnil held up a white bowl with blue designs in the bottom of birds with long tails.
Charles looked at the bowl. “She certainly looks de l’est,” he said, “la Chine peut-être?”
Hope just stared at the bowl as she ran her hand over the silk, wondering how such things came to be aboard this sloop…