Part the One Hundred Thirty Ninth: Seeing to the Dead
At least there was no fire.
That thought was the sole comfort Hope could take as she saw what the Casa’s shots had done to the Gale. It was still quite horrible to behold, but at least the immediate danger was over.
The fore port corner of the quarterdeck had been smashed in, leaving a round hole in the deck as wide across as the length of her forearm. A large chunk of the port gunwale was missing, and in its place was a gash where the main deck should have met the hull, long enough for two men to roll over and fall through.
The mainsail and both topsails’ canvas flapped like standards, their lines the only thing keeping them from flying overboard in the evening breeze. The broken boom, gaff and yards were no longer securing them; they were missing, blown away by the enraged shots of the Casa.
The only thing keeping the stub of the boom from moving wildly fore and back was Saxe’s body weighing it down, draped over it like a discarded rag. His midsection was extended from the weight of his arms and legs on either side of it, threatening to pull his corpse in half if he wasn’t removed soon.
Near the gash, Hope could see the gun she had felt fall on the deck. Under its barrel was Simon, pinned face down by the piece across his lower back.
“Bousculez-moi et aidez!” Charity called as she took one of the rammers and a shot bucket, trying to use them as a lever and fulcrum to lift the gun. Osei, Collins and Kelly were among the men on the spot to steady the bucket and give a hand to lifting the gun to get Simon out from under it.
She grunted and yelled as she put her full weight on the lever. Before the rammer could crack under the strain, the men by Simon took full advantage of the brief moment when the gun was lifted to remove him from under it.
Samuels proceeded bow ward, gave Simon a glance and moved on.
Charity placed her hand on his shoulder to bring his attention back to the man she rescued, but he just pointed at him and kept going. Hope followed where his finger pointed and noticed at the same time Charity did that Simon’s pelvis was pressed flat like the fold between pages in a book.
Over the sound of the survivors came the groans of the timber as it strained with every rising wave. Every time she crested the water, the hull grunted, threatening to breach.
Hope turned from the scenes of death to Abigail, who had her spyglass to her eye as she looked astern. Hope could see that the Casa turned her bow away, on a heading back to the ship the Gale had raked in anger.
“He does have a conscience after all, damn him,” said Abigail in disgust. “They’ll be hoping that with that raking we took we’ll still be here after they save as many as they can on the other ship.”
“With the sails in tatters,” said Hope, “it looks like they’ll be having their way with us soon enough.”
Abigail spat her reply, “Like hell!”
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