Part the One Hundred Eighty First: The Charmed Captive
As she closed on the merchant to starboard of the other ship, the wind still to her advantage, the Raging Gale watched as the prey ran her colors down. The white pennant of surrender run up the mast was echoed by the crew on her deck, either waving any white material they could grab, or simply holding up empty hands.
“Prepare to board!” Osei commanded, less angry than brisk, as some of the boarders put down weapons for gangplanks.
“It’s nice sometimes to meet sensible folks,” said Abigail as she edged the tiller in small strokes to get the Gale in position for boarding.
Hope took a good look at the crew on the merchant, and spied her master easily, a gentleman in a long, fancy coat. He wore his hair with a lovelock and kept his chin clean shaven.
“He doesn’t seem all that scared of you,” said Hope as she pointed him out to Abigail.
“As long as he’s willing to do business, he can be damnably jolly for all I care,” she replied.
Hope stayed on the quarterdeck alongside Abigail until the boarding was secured. The gangway secured and the merchant’s crew disarmed and complying with the Gale’s, the two women came aboard and were greeted by the master, who presented his sword to Abigail in surrender.
“The Dreaded Red Abigail, I presume?” he said as he handed it to her hilt first.
She handed it to Hope and responded, “I’ve not been called that to me face, though it does fit, aye. And you be?”
“I am John Cooper of Mersey, and this ship be the Cormorant. We were on our way to Gran’ Bahamah with sugar from Port Royale, fighting the winds and Spanish the whole way.”
“From the look of your rig, it seems you did well against both.”
“Under no flag?” Hope asked, slightly panicked that they might have taken an English vessel under the letter of marque.
“I’ve no charter, and as far as the refinery’s concerned, how they make available molasses they made with sugar they paid less for than they usually do is their concern, so long as we make our fortune on it. And in Spanish waters, the less reason we’d give them to go after us the better.”
“Storms and Spaniards,” said Abigail, in a way that sounded to Hope as if she was trying not to think of what had occurred to her. “You must have had a mean set of encounters with both.”
“Not with us running ahead of them,” replied John. “The storm pushed us off course some ways, and the fleet of galleons we encountered were none too pleased to see us.”
“Aye, a small handful, heading east off the coastline of Cuba.”
Hope felt the hairs on Abigail’s neck rise while she watched her captain’s eyebrows start to arch. She recognized the look, the look of quick recognition in pursuit of a prize.
It was almost as scary as her demeanor in battle…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan