Part the Two Hundred Ninety Sixth: Closing on the Casa
Hope didn’t give more than a second’s thought to losing the cutlass overboard.
With the line to the Black Swallow severed, she scrambled back over the powder to the stern. Once there, she picked up the lines to trim the lug rig, tied them into position, then used the paddle as a rudder to set a heading dead on toward the Casa del Sol.
When the launch needed a strong course correction, she drew up the paddle to stroke over the side. A few furious paddles over the starboard side set Hope and the powder charge on course for the galleon’s midship.
In front of her, she watched the Swallow veer to starboard, straighten out, and then veer again. She was taking a different tack, she noticed, but one that was still close enough to the launch’s own that the Spaniards might not fully realize what was going to happen.
She wondered whom to thank for coming up with that idea. Osei? Samuel? Both were likely candidates, she admitted. Osei had the strongest hold on the ears of the crew, but they could have listened and considered Samuel’s pleas that they give her a fighting chance.
A large part of her hoped that Samuel did plead with Osei and everyone else to do what they could, in order to save her life and see her come back to him.
She considered that, with her luck, the pleading might have come from Charity, though probably not the brilliant plan to save her…
She cleared her mind and focused on the matter at hand. A quick tug to the lines to keep the lug rig sail full and a few strokes with the paddle before she used it as a rudder again kept the launch on its tack. Her speed was not quite what it had been when tethered to the Swallow, but she was steadily making her way into the bay and closing fast on the Casa.
The six pounders rolled out again and started to fire. There were only seven rounds fired, at a haphazard pace, and all shots tried to find the Swallow. Not a single one came anywhere close to their targets, and all landed in the waves so far away from Hope that she barely heard the sound of the shot hitting the water.
The Casa was now close enough that Hope could start to make out the men on her deck. As they became more distinct, she could see them starting to pay more attention to her. As the crew in the galleon’s rigging pointed to her, Hope could see the guns that had rolled out against the Swallow roll back in, while a few pieces were rolled out to face her.
Two of the six pounders roared as they fired, but their shots went so far off to starboard that they might have been mistaken as going for the Swallow. There was frantic waving on deck, and a cannon which the Spaniards rolled out made a few jerks from being nudged, though it did not fire.
Hope allowed herself the wisp of a smile as she closed in on her prey…
Right up until she saw the swivel guns being mounted on the Casa’s gunwales…
All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan