Part the One Hundred Eighty Fourth: The Gale Prepares to Attack
“Full sail!” Abigail cried as she mounted the tiller. “We best be running full as we come on them, or the prize’ll be out of our reach if we miss her!”
The excitement that ran through the crew at the prospect of seizing so grand a treasure still bit into Hope like a hunting dog into the neck of a goose, ready to shake the life from it.
“Give me a constant watch on the wind! I want to stay ahead of them until we have the last possible light before we strike. Any possible change, I want to know the moment it happens!”
Hope gave a brief second in the midst of the bloodlust Abigail inspired to look for something in her that would object out of fear, that would raise an alarm at such a prospect.
“While we ready our approach, have the guns loaded for round; we’ll need to soften her up like a crab under a hammer before we try to board her! I want muskets in all hands not ready to board, and as many blunderbusses as we can among the rest to soften those Spaniards up!”
Finding nothing, Hope smiled.
“Any change in them, sing out!”
“They’re trimming their topsails!” cried Goddard from atop the mainmast.
“Their topsails are being reefed!”
“Aye, right then!” Abigail replied as she steadied the tiller, piloting the Gale for her roundabout intercept.
At that, Hope’s smile started to crack. She mounted the quarterdeck and stood beside Surgeon Samuels.
“Why would they trim their sails like that?” she asked Abigail at what looked to be an opportune moment, between pulls on the tiller.
“There’s plenty of good reasons for them to,” Abigail replied as she planted her feet firmly on the deck. “Keeping together at night’s easier if they go slower. If they’re not well balanced, reefing some of the sails keeps them from swaying so.”
“So it’s nothing to worry about, then?”
“As compared to the usual results of our actions, no,” offered Surgeon Samuels.
“Think on it thus,” said Abigail. “With a surgeon’s shares of even some of this treasure, ye’d be able to return to Boston and resume your medical practice there.”
“After my experiences at sea, I am inclined to take to up holy orders far inland should I survive.”
She looked at him. “Now ye want to be of the cloth?”
“Provide the Lord allows me, yes. Terminus illae vita mos adveho nunc; that I feel that with a certainty I cannot ignore.”
Hope took a large step away from Samuels and closer to Abigail.
“I’ll try and keep this as vacuus poena as possible for ye, Surgeon.”
Both Hope and Samuels looked at Abigail with shock.
“You pick up bits of things here and there in your travels,” she said with a mischievous grin.
“Wind now from the south east!” Herbert called, followed by Kelly and relayed aft.
Abigail put herself into the tiller hard to change course and keep the Gale under full sail.
Hope eyed the flotilla in the distance, sitting on the horizon like an ornament sitting on a shelf one was tempted to reach over and grab for.
Oblivious to the fate about to befall it…
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