Part the Eighty Ninth: The Brigantine Prize Is Stalked
“To starboard!” Sanders called out as she took the corner of the quarterdeck and used her spyglass. “She’s at beam, running low in the water.”
“I see two masts!” cried out Saxe.
“Ja,” said Zoutman, “two masts on her. She’s rigged like us.”
“Sink me!” said Sanders. “She be a brigantine too. She’ll be a bit faster if she’s in better shape than us!” She looked through her spyglass again.
Charity asked Hope, “Do you think we will go full out for her?”
“If we’re as badly off as we were when we took on water,” Hope replied, “I should think we’ll let the other ship go.”
“Je crois pas! Letting a prize go on a venture like this, that would be…” Charity tried to find the right words.
“Slacken the jib!” commanded Sanders. “Keep trim the topsails! Mister Collins, have your crews at the ready at a moment’s notice!”
“What shot shall we ready, cap’n?” he called.
“We’ll be knowing that as soon as we see how fast she runs. Mister Osei, have the crew not at station assembled below deck, readied for boarding but out of sight. Mister Collins, your crews should stay low until we engage. Fetch me a coat to wear and a gentleman’s hat to go with it.”
In the bustle as crew moved down through the hatch while powder and shot moved up to the deck, the coat and hat Captain Sanders ordered ended up in Hope’s hands. Hope carried it up to the quarterdeck to give to Sanders.
“It’s the clothing worn by the Dutch captain on the flyut we took,” said Hope as she handed it to her.
“Ah yes,” said Sanders. “A fine bit of wear, these. I especially liked the stitching in it.”
“It also has a few holes. The ones you put in it when you shot and stabbed the captain.”
“By the time we be close enough for them to see those, it’ll be too late for them. These should help me pass for a man until we board.”
“Why are you trying to pass for a man again?”
“Last I heard, I be the only woman captaining a ship on the account,” said Sanders as she adjusted the coat to hide her form. “A reputation like ours be a good thing at the right moment, but before we have them in our clutches, it is not.”
Hope looked over the bow at the other brigantine, which was now getting closer as the Gale gained on her…
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