“Keep quiet,” Captain Sanders relayed her commands to Osei, Collins and Hope. “When the time comes, we will need you in good voice, musician, to have the men keep a hearty pace when we come in for them. You are to get them to double time over what they would normally do. Master gunner, have ready chain and grape for your guns; we’ll be closing in hard with we hope surprise. Quartermaster, every non-essential hand should be mustered for action.”
Hope just nodded. The fierceness in the captain’s eyes scared her; she wasn’t certain whether Abigail was more terrifying during a fight or when plotting one…
Captain Sanders took the tiller and brought the Raging Gale into the wind, running in irons while keeping the drama between the pinnace and the sloop at broad starboard. With the wind going against them, the Gale slowed from her hard flight to such a speed that a gull floating on the water could have overtaken them.
Hope kept her eyes on the pinnace, a far enough distance away that her sail was only halfway over the horizon. She imagined the other ship, loaded down with guns, and what kind of damage that boat could do to the Gale if Abigail’s plan did not work…
From over the water, out of sight, the sound of cannon fire could be heard. While it terrified her that she could clearly hear something so far away that it was out of sight, the bombard seemed deceptively gentle to Hope at that distance. The second and third report of the guns continued to feed both sides at conflict in her, fear of combat with the pinnace and comfort at knowing she was not facing it yet.
Yet; that thought helped fear make a stronger argument…
As Hope’s fear started to latch on inside her, Captain Sanders passed the tiller to Campbell and went to the mainmast. She grabbed a line and mounted the rigging, working her way to bottom yard of the mainmast topsail, where Zoutman was, and steadied herself there as she used her spyglass.
Hope watched Abigail in the rigging and felt ashamed at feeling fear. Watching her going aloft in the rigging, using one hand to steady herself against the mainmast to look at a far off fight that she was planning to enter made Hope realize how poorly she was emulating Abigail’s example.
Hope’s fear melted like ice in a pot over the fire as she looked up to her captain. The example before her banished her concerns, making her if not looking forward to the fight, then at least not dreading the clash to come.
Captain Sanders folded her spyglass and lowered herself quickly from the mainmast’s rigging. All eyes were on her as she bounded on the beck and up to the quarterdeck.
She looked right at Hope as she commanded, “Sing out!”