Part the Two Hundred Forty Ninth: Black Birds Singing in the Dead of Night
“Do we have any grape?” Hope asked as the raiding ship bore down on them.
“Aye, for the swivels,” said Turely.
“But what about for the main guns?”
“Just rounds,” said Samuel.
“Right, right,” Hope said, cursing herself for having to ask again for an answer she already knew from the survey the crew made of the Swallow after they left Port Royale.
“She’ll be close enough to the guns soon,” said de Flanders. “But I don’t think we have enough punch from them to slow her down.”
“Which way does the wind favor us?” Hope asked.
“Broad to port,” said Goddard.
“We need to get under sail.”
“But if we try and outrun-” de Flanders protested.
“And have the swivels mounted to stern and starboard astern.” She looked at the gunwales to confirm the pivot holes were there and added with a nod, “Yes, that should do.”
Turely, Mullins, de Flanders and de Rojo stared blankly at her for a lost moment.
“Have the swivels mounted to stern and starboard astern, sharp!” Osei barked.
The four men immediately carried out the order.
Hope sighed with resignation before she turned to look at her pursuers. She could see the outlines of her crew as they trimmed the sails on the foremast.
“Getting ready to get under full sail,” said Goddard. “If we have a little luck and they don’t get a good tack, we can try and make a run for-”
“Not yet,” she replied.
“Wat was dat?”
“If we do this right, we won’t be up all night trying to outrun them. If they stay with us until daybreak, they could have us before noon, so we have to stop them now.”
“How do you figure that?”
“I just asked myself,” said Hope, “what would Abigail do if she were facing this.”
“Guns at the ready,” said Samuel.
Hope held up her hand as the vessel came closer. She could see more clearly her trim and rigging, noting she was a flyut with her top yard askew, looking ready to break off and fall into the sea. She trimmed to half her mainsails and reefed her foresails, slowing down considerably.
“Steady on,” Hope said without taking her eyes off the flyut.
“Steady!” Osei said.
She was glad she wasn’t looking at what the rest of the crew were doing to make him intervene again…
They were close enough now that a figure on the flyut walked the bowsprit to the edge of its jib and called out to them. “What be your colors?” came the voice of the man hanging on the edge of the jib.
When no one answered right away, Hope spoke up and replied, “We fly under our own flag, sir.”
She thought she saw him shake his head in disbelief. “What name ye go by, lass?”
After a brief pause, she responded, “We are the Black Swallow, sir, and are Brethren of the Coast.”
“We be the Dark Eagle, and ye be more a sister than a brother, from the sound of ye.”
“His voice doesn’t sound friendly,” Hope said to her crew
“Aye,” said Mason. “With that tone, he’s going to ask us to stand and deliver.”
Hope sighed as she plotted her next moves…
All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan