Part 168

Part the One Hundred Sixty Eighth:  Nothing Personal on the Account


She looked heavy to Hope.


The vessel the Raging Gale had sighted had two masts as she had, though her rigging favored more square sails and jibs, and her beam seemed the same as the Gale’s.  Her length, however, was obviously longer, and her decks rode over the water closer to the waves than her ship’s did.


Abigail had the tiller steadied and reached for her spyglass.  “She’s coming on rather fast for a cargo ship,” she said as she examined her. 


“So what does that make her?” Hope asked. 


“A good question, that one.”


“Is she another pirate ship?”


“There’d be a small chance of that,” Abigail acknowledged, putting down the spyglass and taking the tiller in her arms.


“Does that mean they’re going to attack us?”


“Not necessarily.  More oft than not, there’s good reason to stand down and parley with others in the sweet trade.”


“I see,” said Hope, not entirely convinced of this and not hiding it in her voice.


“Oh, aye.  The claim of there being a Brethren of the Coast is not an empty boast to try and scare anyone we meet into submission.  There are certain professional courtesies one can expect, as would ship masters doing things above board.”


“And if these pirate were Spaniards we’re licensed to go after for bounty?”


“Ah, well…  nothing personal, it being business and all, eh?”


Hope just shook her head, hoping that business was not going to get in the way here as well…


“What see ye of her?” Abigail called up to Bosfelt.


“Crew’s maybe two score,” he replied.  “Gunport flaps, all down, count maybe eight to port.”


Abigail nodded, then exhaled.  “Mainsail a-lee!” she commanded, and the crew loosened their grip on the sail.  “Not until we get a proper introduction are we getting that close to her.”


Hope felt the Gale slow as she let the wind go past while flapping her sails.  Abigail adjusted the tiller to bring her to starboard, working against the current to slow the ship.


The two ships were now close enough that Hope could just make out on the other vessel’s quarterdeck her captain, a man with long dark hair and a full beard who anxiously adjusted his spyglass on the Gale.  He handed off the tiller and waived to the crew, shouting, “Hello, Gale!  It is Raging Gale, no?”


“Sink me!” exclaimed Abigail.  “Jean Herbert!”


“The man from Tortuga you played with?” Hope asked.


“Aye, him.  His information was very helpful in setting us on our course, and what he said of the mines in New Spain gave de Cadiz’s tale more ballast with me.  Ahoy!  Ahoy!”


For a brief moment, Hope felt some relief as the other captain acknowledged Abigail and waved.


“So it looks like we’re not going to-” Hope started to say…


…before the other vessel veered to starboard and rolled out her guns.


The crew of the Gale looked on in shock as the other vessel turned hostile with the speed of a sudden squall.


“He must have figured out about the knucklebones…” Abigail managed to say before all hell broke loose…

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