Part the Seventieth: The Trap Is Sprung!
“Trim the topsails!” Captain Sanders commanded as the Raging Gale came closer to the galleon. “Musician, belay the chant. All hands, keep ye ears open.”
Hope stopped singing as quiet fell over the ship. Only the rumble of thunder and water lapping the sides of both the Gale and the galleon she was claiming filled the air. In silence, the mainsail and foresail of the Gale brought the ship closer, going half the speed she normally would have to close in on her prey.
When the Gale’s prize came within range of her guns, it was as quiet as Hope had ever heard it aboard the ship. No one moved, save for Bosfelt, who looked down upon the galleon from atop the foremast-
Hope watched as he suddenly jerked and turned to say something-
A shot rang out from the deck of the galleon, and Bosfelt fell from his perch. Hope felt her throat choke as she watched him slip from the top yard, his plummet interrupted by the rope he had wrapped around his left arm to steady himself, swinging him into the foremast with a thud.
“Spanjaarden!” Bosfelt called from where he hung. “Het dek is crawling with Spaniards!”
At that, the air exploded…
Hope wasn’t sure whose salvo erupted first, the Spaniards’ or the Raging Gale’s. After the shot that sent Bosfelt off the top of the fore topsail, she ducked low behind the mainmast. From her vantage point she heard shot go over her head like angry whispers demanding silence, followed by the cries of men whose wounds would not allow them to hold their tongues.
When the Gale suddenly rolled to port, her first thought was that Abigail had been hit by the Spanish muskets. She pictured her captain’s body slumped over the tiller, limp and cooling as her blood bathed the quarterdeck…
“NOW!” Hope heard Abigail cry out, and Collins roared for the guns to fire. In the confusion from the assault, the four pounders fired individually, each shot followed by the sound of splintering wood.
The cries of the wounded competed with the commands of the ready, as both Collins and Osei called for more shot from below. The Gale righted as her boom on the mainsail swung to desperately catch a breeze to put some distance from the galleon.
Hope’s fear of getting shot could not keep her from raising her head to look at the galleon. As the smoke from the powder dissipated, Hope could see the holes the Gale’s shots put in her hull, and as Hope watched one of the galleon’s guns that had been listing in its carriage slip and roll aside.
In the dissipating smoke, Hope could see that the galleon still had a few guns which were crewed, and musketeers coming fore to the edge of the deck with their arms leveled at her-
“Ready your arms!” Osei issued a command.
“Descendez vous!” Charles jumped up to pull Osei down.
The warning came just before the Spanish shot, but Hope ducked as she heard them fire. She could not see from the cover she took if the two men had found safety before the shots found them…
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