Part the One Hundred Thirty Fourth: Hope’s Enlightenment
Leftovers from the crew’s mess were being shoved out the scuppers by those men not getting the guns ready or trimming the rigging to get the most speed possible. Hope went to the quarterdeck to get out of the way of the preparations for engagement.
“Would that we had more favorable winds,” said Sanders as she looked back and forth between the pennant and her prey. “We’d make better speed with it to our backs and with them going into it, not like this.”
“But if they have the wind at their backs…” Hope started to say.
Abigail waited for her to finish.
“But that means they’re coming toward us,” Hope continued, “which is why you’re going after them now, hoping they don’t see us before we get that close.”
Her captain gave a slight smile.
“And if she gets past us?”
“Then we both be with the winds to our backs. Her rigging is full-square, which give our trim the advantage. The only thing sparing her is an intervention.”
Hope turned to look at Surgeon Samuels, taking a place at the corner of the quarterdeck that was fast becoming favored by him, the way a cat might choose a comfortable spot in the house.
He noticed her and acknowledged the conversation with, “If you are worried about my pleas to Him, they will not be made in such a manner as to wish you loss or harm.”
“Always good to know who your crew fights for,” Abigail said under her breath. “Her heading?” she called up to the lookout atop the mainmast.
“Due east,” Zoutman shouted down.
“Our luck’s holding, then. Hold her to broad starboard for now. We’re running close beam reach,” she ordered Campbell as she handed him the tiller before waving Osei up to the quarterdeck.
“Your orders?” he asked.
“Have the guns set for round shot. If she be making a sudden break, we may only get a chance at her at long range. Muskets to the best shots and place them atop the yardarms. Muskets to the men on deck as well, but keep the hooks ready and at hand; give those to the ones who can best cast their lines, we may ne’er get more than one chance if she makes a good run from us.”
“Mount her at the bow, and she may fire at will,” she ordered. As Osei saw to her commands she turned and asked Hope, “Do you think you can get Collins to hand you a rammer?”
“But I’ve never had to fire the guns before!” Hope protested.
Abigail waited a moment for Hope to consider her reply.
“…although it did serve us well as an improvised drumstick when we ran from the Casa…”
Abigail gave another slight smile as Hope started to look for an improvised percussion instrument.
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