Part the One Hundred Fortieth: The Run to Arecibo
Sanders clanged the ship’s bell until she got all the crew that could assemble on the main deck. The only seamen not responding with worry on their faces were those too injured to respond, and Surgeon Samuels, who was administering to them.
“The Casa’s turned her attention to the ship we sank,” Sanders said when they assembled, “but they will be coming back for us. And they expect us to still be here when she finishes her tasks. And if we are, then not one of us will live to see sunrise! Are we wanting that now?”
“NAY!” the crew replied.
“Nay, we don’t, but our lives depend on what we do next, and that may prove a trial. Our hull is straining, we’ve lost much of our rig and a number of ye as well, so this be much to task ye with. First, we must lighten the load; drop over the sides the sherry and all stores save for enough water for two days for us all. We’ll be needing the Gale as light as we can while still able to run the guns if need be.”
“Only two days?” one of the crew asked.
“Aye, for that should hold us until we get to an inlet used by smugglers just east of Arecibo. We should be able to hide there and make arrangement for re-rigging the sails and stocking back up.”
Hope started to ask about the details, as to how the Gale was going to resupply and repair in a Spanish port. The murderous looks on the faces of Abigail and her crew, however, held her tongue in her mouth.
“We must make quick of saying our goodbyes to the dead,” Sanders continued, “and bringing below those wounded. Once that and the lightening of the load be done, we must break out the oars and row. We need to do this in shifts, so as to keep us constantly moving towards the inlet and away from the Casa before she comes.”
“Those in favor?” Osei asked the assembled.
“AYE!” the parley spoke as one.
“Then let us make haste with it,” Abigail certified the vote, “for our lives depend on this!”
The crew, with the swiftness and drive that only those in danger of their lives could muster, formed a line from the hold to the gunwales to pass stores and sherry up and out into the sea. One hogshead of sherry had sprung a leak, and as it passed the crew a few men hoisted it above their heads in order to take a drink from the escaping booty.
“Ach,” said Zoutman as he finished his sample, “no wonder the Spaniards gave this up so easily!” He directed his review down the line, his disdain for the contents enough to keep others from suggesting it stay aboard.
Hope watched, amazed and proud at the way the crew came together to save their lives through such sacrifice. For every three moments observing them, however, she’d spare one to look astern, keeping a watch to see if the Casa was coming for them…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan