Part the Seventy Sixth: Abigail’s Abandoned Plan
Abigail asked van Herck for more drink before she returned to her conversation with Hope. When he brought another bottle, Abigail filled Hope’s tankard halfway, and gave a little more to herself.
Hope took another drink, this one slowly, leaving most of it in the cup when she stopped and without wasting a drop or saying a word.
“When she showed up,” Abigail indicated the other woman with a tip of her tankard, “I knew she was doing as I had, but not whether she could do it as well as I did, or whether she be a good seaman. It’s a dangerous game, passing oneself as another, and with the wrong person there’d be no end to the troubles. Me hope was, we get to port, I then take her aside and give her ways to improve her game before sending her on to be another’s trouble.”
“You were going to send her away,” said Hope, her tone neutral, her eyes looking elsewhere as she had another drink.
“Aye, it would have been for the best. She could continue on her own, her secret safe so long as she could keep it. As to whether or not she was any good as a seaman, no matter, it be better she be elsewhere than here when it came out.”
“Wasn’t she performing her duties?” asked Hope.
“Oh, aye. Mind you, this was over the short haul, and further along ‘tis hard to say what would have come of it. And even if she was a sea nymph who bled water and could do the work of the entire crew herself without help, there be too much at stake if another woman be found in their midst.”
“I see,” said Hope before she had another long drink from her tankard.
“Unfortunately, the Casa just made that more difficult. Thanks to that lucky shot, she was exposed to enough of the crew that word could not be kept from them all. By now every man on board knows that ‘Charles’ is actually…”
Abigail took a drink from her rumbullion, just as Hope had another swig. By now it was hard for her to see Abigail clearly, and the woman who had been ‘Charles’ seemed to melt into the bulkhead in the low light.
“We never did get her name,” said Abigail. “We should ask her, aye?” she said as she got up and with a slight wobble made her way over to the hammock. Hope got up to follow, making her progress more slowly as she willed her numb feet to move.
Abigail cradled the head of the stowaway under her arm and encouraged her to have sip of rumbullion. ‘Charles’ rose up from the hammock on her shoulders, slowly opening her eyes, taking a few moments to realize that her chest was exposed and unbound as she did that.
“Merde! J’ai de grands ennuis maintenant!” she said as she realized what was going on…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan