Part the Two Hundred Forty Eighth: All Hands on Deck!
Despite the surprise, the crew assembled quickly on deck when the alarm was raised.
“What did you see?” asked Osei.
“That,” said Hope, pointing to the rigging that was drawing ever closer. “I saw her on the horizon when I came out on deck as the moon was coming up behind her, taking the same course as us, and then she was suddenly fully rigged and came after us.”
“Who could it be?” asked de Flanders. “Is it de Guarda?”
“Not this far out at this hour,” said de Rojo. “Not from what she said, they wouldn’t be.”
“I don’t like it,” said Charity.
“Agreed,” said Turley. “Going to full sail that quickly at this hour with the moon behind her, that can only be a hostile act.”
“What’s our plan then?” asked Samuel.
“Can we outrun them?” Jukes asked.
“If we had more warning,” said Goddard. “With the course she’s running, our best outcome, she may close to us to get the rigging allemaal vervuild, after which we’re at her mercy.”
“Are you suggesting surrender, then?” asked de Barrer.
“How would we fare if we surrendered?” asked Jukes.
“They might see we’re not worth that much trouble, point at us and laugh and then leave us to-”
“How could you!” Hope snapped.
The deck quieted down at her outburst, as she continued.
“If they took this much bother to come after us, they’re not going to leave empty-handed. I can think of two of us, maybe three,” she cast a look at Edward, “that might be taken prisoner and used for their pleasure, and we three would watch the rest of you go before us.”
“Begging your pardon,” said Mason, “but if we can see that ship so well from that far off, and coming closer, I don’t give us much chance in a straight fight with them.”
Hope looked at the ship closing in, and could see more clearly that she had two masts on her, with the advantage of running with the wind.
The silence as the crew considered their fate was being threatened at the edges by the sound of surf lapping against the hull of the oncoming ship…
“Then we don’t give them a straight fight,” Osei finally said. “As you said, Mister Mason, we would not fare well in a direct engagement, and there is a chance as Mister Zoutman noted that she could snare us as we make a quick run for it.”
“So can we put up a fight while running, then?” Hope replied.
“Aye, that will do us,” said Osei. “It will have to.”
“Let me get the brazier hot again, for the matches,” said Jukes.
“You’re running the powder to me when I call,” Charity said to Edward.
“Can we get her to turn the way Abigail would the Gale?” Hope asked.
“She can turn better than her,” said Goddard, “but Captain Sanders had a crew that worked the Gale like she was a limb, and we’re not quite there with the Swallow yet.”
“We have to do with her the best we can, or this rescue will never take place!”
All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan