Part the One Hundred Thirty Eighth: The Raking of the Gale
The solar design on the Casa del Sol’s mainsail glowed red as it caught the light of the setting sun. And it grew larger as she sailed westward into the light, pursuing the Raging Gail.
“This is not good,” Hope said aloud, more so to herself than anyone else on the quarterdeck. “Why isn’t she stopping to help the other ship?”
“We be of more import to them,” said Sanders, the anger in her voice threatening to turn her comment into a growl. “It shows well what form of men we be dealing with here.”
“So how do we get out of this one?”
“Even though we tarried when we broke the prize, we still have enough of a lead that if we keep this up until nightfall we can lose her. We’re nearly two cord ahead and should be opening a bigger lead if she be carrying the same weight as all other times.”
Hope watched the Casa closely to see if she were indeed receding behind them. Try as she might, she just could not see anything to convince her that they were making any headway.
“Is there anything we can do to lighten our load?” Hope asked.
“Only as a last resort,” Sanders replied as she kept a tight grip on the tiller to get the best possible tact. The Gale was at full sail heading to the northeast.
“I think she’s veering away,” said Surgeon Samuels as he pointed to the Casa.
Hope watched as the Casa changed her heading, her masts leaning hard to starboard as her bow swung to the north.
“Look!” said Hope. “Maybe she’s going back to help the other ship! Maybe she’s-”
“Oh sweet Lord!” cried Sanders, tension rising in her face. “TAKE COVER! NOW!” she screamed.
Hope and Samuels were the only crew on the quarterdeck still standing when fire and smoke belched out from the upper gun decks of the Casa’s port side. Hope’s confusion left her quickly and she dove for Samuels to pull him down.
Hope’s face was against the deck as she heard the sound of the round shot going over her head, and felt the planks under her bounce as it ripped the far corner of the deck. Following that, she heard more round shot scream and thunder in her ears, in harmony with the breaking of the boom.
Three more screams of incoming shots warned the Gale before Hope felt their reverberations through the hull. It shuddered twice, first from the shots striking her, then from a gun bouncing out of its carriage, which sent a final thud through the decks.
Hope wasn’t sure how long she willed her form to lie flat against the deck, trying to merge herself with the planking. Samuels’ hand gripping her shoulder drew her back into her body, unable to get away from it.
“Come, pessimus est super,” he said grimly. “We must deal with the aftermath.”
Reluctantly, Hope rose and witnessed the damage that the Casa had inflicted.
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan