Hope was looking at the charm Charles had boldly given her despite the glares from Captain Sanders and Andrews. She had thought that she had been careful not to stare at the brass ornament with the Oriental symbol on it in the hours since she received the gift.
“Mind ye,” said Abigail when Hope looked up, “if you insist on flaunting it before everyone, ye may find yourself having unleashed that which cannot be controlled.”
Hope wasn’t sure what annoyed her more, Abigail’s admonitions or that she gave such without looking up from the charts. The Santa Cecilia had surrendered before she was cast off with enough provisions so the eight survivors could fend for a week before they ran out.
“Are you annoyed that I accepted this gift?” she asked Abigail.
“If Charles were to try that,” Abigail replied, “would that it have happened in private. Most crews would have seen him taking booty on his own to give ye as theft. Either way, he’ll be giving up shares of his own for that act, which be a fool’s errand.”
“What makes him foolish to do this?”
“It’s foolish as ye be entitled to a share over and above for spotting the sail. Thanks to his brazen affection, ye’ll be getting more than three shares of this booty.”
“You’d keep him from his shares over this?” Hope asked as she looked at the charm.
“Charles is keeping very little,” said Abigail before she sipped her water-cut rumbullion and made a notation in her personal rutter. “If ye be enflamed any further by him, if ye be ready to fall in with him, then ye be leaving me with a crew that’ll be at each other’s throats if they believe they can get more through romancing you. And don’t be telling me that such tricks as his are not affecting you.”
Hope wished Abigail had looked her in the eyes as she said that, though her continued attention to the map table made that impossible.
“I have to say this, Hope,” Abigail continued. “Charles is most likely using your attraction to him to insure that when the time comes, the crew will not turn and maroon-”
“Did you say ‘when’ the time comes?”
Abigail stopped and looked up.
“Why, what could Charles possibly need to have my support for? A mutiny? You think he’s after your crew?”
Hope tried not to quiver as Abigail inhaled with agitation, fearing what she might say when she finally finished drawing in a mighty breath…
But to Hope’s surprise, Abigail calmly asked, “Have you ever paid close attention to Charles, Hope?”
“Tell me, how much have you… noticed Charles? The way he moves, the way he talks? The little things like that?”
Hope found herself drawing a breath. “My word…”
“So you have noticed tha-”
“You have feelings for him!” Hope blurted out.
For the first time since Hope had met her, Abigail was struck speechless, her mouth agape.
“And you’re- you’re jealous, is that it?”
“Lord save me, but no. I am trying to-”
“What are you trying to say?” Hope asked, the tension rising. “Can you not tell me plainly what it is you wish to say?”