Part the One Hundred Ninety Seventh: The Casa Strikes!
The Casa del Sol.
Hope was stunned. She had trouble believing that of all the possible ships Spain would have hunting them for taking on the Little Plate Fleet, the Casa would be the one that would be upon them when they were at their most vulnerable-
No, not believe, she realized. She was willing to believe that it was the Casa that threatened them, she just wasn’t willing to accept that of all the galleons in the New World, this would be the one at whose hands they would meet their end.
She turned to her crew for some recognition that they shared her beliefs, that they also saw this as unacceptable.
The only one who spoke was Abigail, uttering, “Son of a bitch!”
At that, Hope noticed a shift of the wind, blowing now from the east north east. The Gale was trimmed well to keep up her speed, and her trim needed little adjustment to stay at full sail.
The Casa, however, seemed to ride higher with the new head of wind, her extra jibs filling up as she turned to starboard with what seemed deft agility.
“I didn’t know she could turn like that,” Hope said aloud.
“Until today, she couldn’t,” Abigail replied. “Where’s me spyglass?”
Campbell had it at the ready for her, and she watched her foe.
“Sink me! She’s much lighter on the water, and stripped of at least half her guns.”
“So she’s not as lethal if she’s not as well armed?” Hope asked.
“Those are still six pounders she carries. He still has more guns than we do, and if de Colera has half his wits about him he can still be a threat with even fewer pieces.”
“So how can we beat him, then?”
“If there is a way…” Abigail muttered before she commanded, “Lean hard to starboard! Move as much weight as ye can into it!”
The crew of the Gale took whatever was on deck other than the guns to port and shifted it over. Abigail’s command was relayed below, and from the hatch came the sound of shifting cargo.
Abigail strained into the tiller, putting her whole being into it to get her ship to turn. Hope couldn’t tell if the cries she gave were like those of a woman using the cat of nine tails or under it.
The Gale made slight progress in her turn, but the Casa made her maneuver faster while closing on her prey. Within moments of Abigail’s command, she was passing astern of the Gale, her port broad on line with the starboard stern corner of the ship
At a distance nearly twice as great as any at which the Gale ever engaged a target, Hope saw puffs of smoke emerge from the Casa, followed two seconds later by the report of far off discharges.
Right after that, her shots found their marks, shearing both topmasts. Hope could easily see Goor’s body, one of his arms blown clear away by the Casa’s shot, flying over the side from his post along with tatters of the topsail.
The curses Hope heard Abigail say at that were now louder and coarser…
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