Part the Ninety Second: The Song Before the Hatch Blows Open
Hope looked around the chaos on the crew deck in near panic. There was more light to see by now, thanks to the two holes the size of one of her outstretched hands in the hull. Hope saw a leg and an arm removed from their torsos on the deck, next to Akua’s detached hand. There was no screaming panic among the men despite the flow of blood across the deck, but their eyes held fear in them, fear tied to anger.
Hope looked in their faces and shared their feelings. The more she felt what her crew felt, the less she wanted to cry and scream. Her fear mingled with her anger as she joined with her crew in the experience.
Trying not to let the anger drive her voice up, she continued:
And then the fearful enemy
Were quickly put to flight
Our men pursued courageously
And caught their forces quite
But at the last they gave a shout
Which echoed through the sky
‘God and St George for England!’
The conquerors di-
The explosion rattled the crew deck. Hope felt her feet leave the planking, rising a few inches before she came down. She looked around, desperate to see what else had been blown from under them.
“That be us returning fire,” said Osei. He showed no fear whatsoever, only anger, but with the Gale firing her guns his anger was joined by glee, a dangerous glee in the way he gripped the pummel of his cutlass…
Hope led on the crew in song:
To the soldiers that were maimed
And wounded in the fray
The Queen allowed a pension
Of eighteen pence a day
And from all costs and charges
She quit and set them free
And this she did all for the sake
Hope’s song ended in a bright flash of light.
When the hatch flew open the men yelled like a broadside, their anger at the enemy built up to a terrible fury. As one with the crew, Hope emerged alongside Charity, screaming a yell that came from deep inside her that conscious thought never visited…
The sight was fantastic; the brigantine that they had been chasing had boarded the Gale amidships, with much of her crew on the Gale’s deck. Hope came atop deck just as the faces of the boarding crew were turning from desperate confidence to burning fear. Facing suddenly longer odds, and on unfamiliar decks, the brigantine’s fighters swung their blades and axes desperately to keep the Gale’s crew from hacking them to bits.
Hope came face to face with the crew of the other ship, their fear making their eyes and swings grow wider, both becoming larger circles. The men before Hope were preparing to die, with the objective of taking as many of their killers with them before their demise.
Only at that moment did Hope realize that she herself had no weapon in hand…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan