Mutiny Part III - Death of the accursed boatswain
Elouan had seen from the rigging the dog’s attempts to save the man he hated the most, and he silently prayed to God not to let it happen.
Jacque Gasquet was trying his best to swim and remain alive, hoping that somebody would throw him a rope or something. He was tired and in pain, as the Breton had strong fists and the boatswain had always been accustomed to give deadly blows, not to receive them. Not to mention the way he fell from the rigging, as the waves had their own way to show they didn’t like him either. He was struggling; his body focused instinctively on survival, and his mind giving only now and then conscious flashes of coherent thoughts.
But when he saw the big dog next to him, nearly catching him, he had never thought that the dog wanted to save him. No, his unstable mind now associated him with the dogs used to catch slaves – the “living ebony” harvest he had transported and sold successfully in his youth, making the fortune the King had confiscated from him later, when nearly taking his life as well.
This was, in his opinion, either a vicious dog ready to bite him and kill him on the spot, or a dog coming after him, to hunt him like the slaves had been hunted… and to make him pay for everything he had done. When the dog went away, he thought he would survive; but when it returned, the former slaver captain Jacque Gasquet was convinced the destiny was after him. He felt suddenly a strong headache and it got all black around him. He could hear the dog’s noisy breath, but he couldn’t see it anymore, he only imagined it ready to get him – alive or execute him with a deadly bite.
Then, the boatswain known aboard “Le Phenix” under the name of Jacques Fresne lost consciousness and fell into the depth of the ocean forever.
Still a Christian deep in his heart, Elouan made the sign of the cross, saying in his thoughts ”Requiescat in pacem!” For him, like for many others, this was a way not to actually pray for his enemy’s soul, but rather not to come back as a ghost to haunt the one who had pushed him to meet his end.
He couldn’t see what had happened to Lieutenant Forrestier, but he heard enough to get an idea. He was looking with hope at the doctor… but if he could have done anything for Little Fish, he would have. Therefore, Elouan clinged to the shroud next to him, took a deep breath and he made the effort to continue his work. As if he could work... As the anger started diminishing with Jacques Fresne’s death, the realization of what he had done was coming to him. And not only what he had done – he kept hearing an angry mob on the deck.
Benoit was quicker to descend on the deck and join the revenge against the boatswain’s mates – all three followers of Jacques Fresne were now judged by the crowd and ready to be lynched. Elouan pondered if to get down too or to keep his position, and he opted to remain where his watch required him to be.
Jean and Fernand had been caught in the turmoil around the third lieutenant. Now that they had seen the revenge against the two men they hated the most, the boatswain and the third lieutenant, they could let the boatswain’s mates escape with a good beating.
”Aubry is right,” Jean said. ”Too much blood had been spilled already. Bosun Fresne is dead, the lieutenant is dead. These three lads had been groomed by the bosun to be like him. They have done their share of misdeeds… upon his orders. Don’t you look at this one?” he hit Antoine with the top of his shoe. ”Now that he had lost his protector, how much is he worth? Begging for mercy! Let’s tan their hide and let them go. Only have a taste of the medicine they had been widely offering us.”
Opinions got split here – some approved, some didn’t. The rumour increased, and some of the men were following the advice and using the boatswain’s mates as punch bags. Fernand was among them. He had accumulated too much anger today.