The blast from the French muzzle propped through a hole in the door of the captain’s quarters scattered the crew of the Raging Gale. Pirates who dove into the deck got the blood of their victims plastered on their faces, while two of the crew found themselves pushed over the French’s starboard side into the water.
“Est-ce que c’est votre meilleur?” Mangin challenged the barricaded crew as he rose from the deck. Hope watched as he stood first among the Gale‘s crew and started to walk towards the door. He roared his taunt, “Quel genre de lâche-”
Hope barely cried out in time as the muzzle was quickly drawn in and the barrel of a pistol came out, firing at Mangin, cutting off his curse.
Mangin stopped and looked down at the fresh wound over his heart. “Merde…” he exhaled before he dropped dead on the deck.
The crew started to make a noise like an angry wounded animal until Captain Sanders raised her hand and calmed the crowd. She pointed to Bentinck and Soubise, then used some hand signals Hope could not make out.
Bentinck and Soubise worked their way back to the Gale‘s deck. Bentick asked Hope in a low voice, “We could use some help, ja?”
“What am I to do?” Hope asked.
“We need to bring some powder up, quickly, and if we could pass it to you up here, that would make it go faster.”
Hope nodded as she considered all the possible ways this plan could go awry…
“Thanks, lass,” he said before he descended into the hatch.
Hope considered her options, and how few there were. All eyes had been on Bentinck and Soubise when they were sent on their charge, and the crew was looking right at Hope, waiting for her to do what she was asked.
“Hier komt het,” she heard below, and at the mouth of the hatch Hope took hold of a sack of gunpowder, what felt like half a stone, the amount the gunners used to fire one of the cannon. Hope steadied herself, trying not to count how many pieces she would end up in if a spark landed on the sack…
Bentinck emerged from the hatch and relieved Hope of the powder, followed by Soubise who brought up a large shaped piece of wood. The two of them stayed low as they moved up the deck, keeping out of sight of the French murder hole.
Slowly they made their way to Sanders, who had crept forward to a spot on the deck to the side of the door. She filled a blunderbuss most of the way with powder, then capped the muzzle with the wood.
Sanders then crept on all fours, looking to Hope like a cat stalking her prey, moving up to the base of the door with the capped blunderbuss and the powder bag passed up to her by men pressed along the gunwales when she got there. She set the weapon at the base of the door, propped open the flintlock, poured a pile of powder against the hole, then led a line of the powder away from the gun.
Sanders then struck a flint against the line of powder, which sparked and smoked…