Part the Second: The Rigging Comes Crashing Down
The Raging Gale showed her anger at being kept waiting with a loud broadside that sent panic through the crew of the King Charles and rooted Hope Harvey to the deck like a mast.
The boom of the cannons firing in unison was followed by a high-pitched buzz, sounding to Hope like an angry cloud of hornets crossing the hundreds of feet between the two vessels. She watched in horror as a dark cloud came upon her ship and hit the sails and rigging.
The sounds that came next were horrible to her ears: Chains clanked, sails ripped, ropes snapped. Worst of all were the dull thuds and moans of pain from the men in the rigging who were trying to trim the sails in anticipation of the attack.
The sight that followed was as horrible, as iron chains and balls tore from the masts ropes, sails and bloodied sailors, all of which crashed to the decks in a heap.
The master of the ship made a sideways sweep of his hand to the left, and the colors of the King Charles were pulled down. He gave an angry look at Uncle James, which ordinarily would have made her uncle do anything other than return the look with hurt apologizing eyes.
The terror of the crash of the rigging was nothing compared to the anticipation as the other ship circled ever closer, trimming her sails in order to come alongside the King Charles. The crew on her ship stood upon the deck, the fear on their faces growing stronger as they waited. The gulls seemed to mock them for their lack of luck and courage, the only ones to speak as they all awaited their fate.
Soon the gulls were joined by the sounds of the crew of the Raging Gale as they came closer, the talk among them like the growl of an animal to Hope’s ears. As they came closer and she could see them better, they were a desperate looking crew with hard eyes offset by colorful shirts and head covering scarves, holding long blades and axes. Even more terrifying was their number, at least three such men for every one of the King Charles’ crew.
When the two vessels were close enough together that Hope could hear individual men on the other craft, a flurry of hooks attached to ropes took to the air and landed on the deck of the King Charles. With a cry, the ropes were pulled and the two ships closed the gap between them, allowing the victorious ship to claim her prize.
The master of the ship readied his sword in both hands, keeping his eyes down as he prepared to surrender. Uncle James looked ready to fume at the indignity of it, but was doing what he could to keep himself under control.
A gasp went up from the crew of the King Charles as the pirates came aboard. Hope saw the captain of the enemy vessel walk up the steps to the quarterdeck, noticing the leather boots that cuffed at the knee and the ruffles around the wrists of the shirt. It took her a second glance to register how the captain’s shirt filled out with the curves of a bosom.
Hope’s wonder if this was a trick on her eyes was dashed as the captain said in a woman’s voice, “I claim this ship as a prize, and all aboard her,” as she took the master’s sword from him as part of the surrender…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan