Part 30

Part the Thirtieth: Running Before the Casa

Hope watched as the Casa came closer, her mainmast taller than that of the Raging Gail, her lateen sail on the aft mast twice the size of the one trying to save her from the Spaniards.


Sure that her fate was sealed and that she would be hung as a pirate or worse very soon, Hope cast her eyes skyward in silent appeal for salvation.


As she looked up, she saw the gaff sail swing with the wind as the square rigging filled with a new, stronger breeze.  Hope wasn’t sure if the Raging Gale actually lurched forward with the wind change or if she was just reacting to the change in the wind with her imagination.


“Trim her well with that wind!” cried Captain Sanders as she pointed to the gaff’s boom.  “We be making the most of this or be dead by nightfall!”


Her crew moved the boom to catch the wind, and when the sail filled like a man taking a desperate breath they held her like it was driftwood taken to keep afloat.  On the foremast and mainmast the men trimmed the yards to fill the square rigging even further.


Hope could feel the Raging Gail going much faster now.  She felt the rush of air on her cheeks even though she faced the bow with the wind at her back.  When she looked back, the Casa was no longer looming in size.  Every second she looked, her life felt more precious for the simple reason that she had it as her pursuers faded further behind.


“Hold her as long as you can!” shouted Captain Sanders to the men working the rigging.  “No man rests until the Casa is lost over the horizon!”


The wind filled the sails of the Raging Gale and drove her faster well before the Casa del Sol.  The galleon was turning to starboard and made into the wind as well, but by the time she caught the same breezes she was so far back of her quarry that the sunburst on her sails was more a blotch pattern than a sharp shape.


“Hold to your posts!” Osei barked, as he too noticed the Casa slipping below the horizon.  “No man’s safe until we have lost that ship!”


Hope wondered if the grit and determination on his face seemed to hide greater fear than that which was showing on the faces of the others.  She watched him keep a strong expression on his face and place hard admonitions on the crew.


Below her, Hope heard a hard “CLUNG” sound against the decks.  Some of the crew looked up with terror, but Osei only got more angry.


“Lean into it more, Goor!  Garland, hold her taut!” he said to crew trimming the boom.  “Get that loose booty stowed, Campbell!” he said while pointing to where the sound below decks came from.  “Collins, secure your guns!  And note this one well in case we need fire it!” he shouted when he noticed one of the four pounders on deck lurching in its mounting. 

But between ordering the ship’s crew to give their all, Hope would see him every so often looking back over the horizon at where the Casa had been, and in those times the stern visage would briefly give way to worry…  

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 All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan



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