58. Distress

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Windward Passage — Saturday, 13 September 1733

After Friday evening's violent thunderstorms passed, the winds had blown fair and steadily through the night, and Saturday's clear dawn found Elizabeth twenty-one miles south of the latitude of Cape Mayze, Cuba's eastern tip. Aldrick looked up from the freshly plotted line of position on the chart. "What would you suggest, Mister Charles?"

Charles examined the chart for a short while, then he said, "I suggest we alter to port to ensure we sight the coast of Cuba and find the cape, Sir

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Charles examined the chart for a short while, then he said, "I suggest we alter to port to ensure we sight the coast of Cuba and find the cape, Sir."

"How far to port?"

"I suggest sailing directly north. From our DR, we likely need no more eastings, and this will allow us to close the coast quickly to gain a fix."

"Excellent! Please, do that."

"Aye, Sir. Port to north." He glanced at the chart again. "I shall warn the lookouts; they should sight the higher hills within the quarter-hour."

"I shall be below. Call me when we raise Cuba."

"Aye, Sir."

Aldrick descended to the great cabin to see Elizabeth sitting in front of the stern windows, facing the sea, and he said as he approached, "We should raise the Cuban coast within the quarter-hour."

She nodded, her shoulders quaking as she let out a series of loud sobs.

He knelt beside her chair, put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. "What is it?"

"In the privy." She hiccoughed and dabbed her eyes. "When I washed my cunny, there was blood. Blood, Aldi. Our child is not to be this time."

He wrapped her in both arms, remaining silent for a short while. Then he said, "We can continue trying. That was only our first attempt. Some try for years without success."

Elizabeth burst into deep sobbing, and Aldrick held her tight, rubbing her back and murmuring, "All is fine. We will make it work. Think of all those who bear a child every year. That is nature. That is the way our systems work."

She bobbed her head. "True. Mother had the six of us in seven years. After Mary, she insisted Father spill onto her belly or into her mouth."

"We can get back to that after we have created a large family. How many do you want?"

"I have not thought about that. How many do you want?"

Aldrick shrugged. "We will know." He lifted her from the chair and into a more comfortable embrace. After a long silence, he said, "But the new moon is not for another two days. Your bleeding is early."

"Is it? I had stopped counting the days, thinking there is no longer a need."

"Are your breasts still tender?"

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