Part the Seventy First: Fury and Fear
Hope wanted to scream, but could not raise her voice fast enough before the Spanish fired their muskets at the Raging Gale. She could not tell whether Osei and Charles had been hit by their muskets before all hell broke loose.
Warned and readied, Collins struck two fast matches and used both in two separate guns as readied fuses. After the volley’s ring died out over the water, he readied two four pounders to reply to the Spanish.
The loud thunderous boom that came from the galleon made Hope think the Spanish had one very large cannon that they only now decided to level at the Gale. She expected the ship to rip to pieces under her after so loud a sound-
The flash of light from the galleon through the gunsmoke made it look like a false sunrise. For a brief instance the galleon looked as though it were entirely aflame before the stern of the ship separated from the hull with a thunderous crack. Spaniards who were still aboard either half of the enemy ship were divided between those in flames and running around in pain, and those who gave up their hold on life and dropped into the unforgiving water.
“Got her magazine,” Collins surmised, with some surprise.
The crew of the Gale watched as the ship they tried to take as a prize slipped into the water in burning pieces, her masts collapsing from her decks as a pillar of dark smoke rose to Heaven.
Hope saw in the light of the blaze Osei and Charles standing on deck. Lying on the deck among the wounded, Bentinck looked the worst; only a portion of his face could still be recognized, the rest removed in the flurry of shot he had taken.
“Sail!” called Bosfelt. “Sail to stern! Galleon, the sign of suns on- It’s the Casa! Vervloekte Casa!” he screamed.
For the first time, Hope heard fear from Bosfelt.
“Heave to!” Captain Sanders called to her crew. “We not be sitting here for the Casa to take us!” Of all the cries to rise from the deck of the Raging Gale, hers was the only one not wrapped in fear or shrouded in pain.
Any men who still bore arms left them on the deck to trim the rigging for the best possible running speed. The wounded were left for the moment in the panic; those who could move on their own did the crew a courtesy by finding a place out of their way.
“The swivel gun!” Sanders commanded. “Have her mounted to stern! Osei, the five best musketeers you can spare to the quarterdeck! If she does catch us, we be putting up a struggle from the first!”
Osei brought Charles with him to defend the quarterdeck as the swivel gun was mounted.
Desperate to provide what she could, Hope tried to find her voice despite the panic rising in her. In desperation, she took one of the rammers left beside a four pounder and started a hard count beat against the deck. It was no drum, Hope knew as she tried to make more than just a THUD-THUD-THUD out of her efforts, trying to rally the men.
Trying not to sound like the march of their doom coming to claim them…
All content Copyright © 2008 James Ryan