Number of posts : 143
Age : 60
Localisation : washington state, USA
Registration date : 2007-12-08
Locations: Tampa, New Orleans
Production: Ironmongery and Naval Stores (Guns, shot,repair items, keels, frames, planks, mast, spars, sails, rigging, tar, etc Everything but assembly)
Requirements: Ores and logs
|Subject: It was a Dark and Stormy Night...... Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:48 am|| |
It was a dark and stormy night. And Edwin Stewart was not happy. The tepid tea with more than a wee splash of a dram buie was not cheering him either. The cool night air and rain was not helping.
It had seemed so simple and so good to start. The patrol lead by Commodore William MacNeil had had run down a pirate headed for Irish Pointe. Four on one was good odds, but the pirate had ducked into a squall as darkness fell.
There, in the darkness and rain, others had joined the pirate. Instead of being 4 on 1 it had turned into 4 on 3...all well known to the Commodore. Not that it was lost then...a goodly battle line was formed, though to the lee, and a running fight had started....then it went a' fey on them.
Edwin pondered on rumors that he had heard...that among the Brethren there were sorcerers...black magicians from darkest Africa and the unexplored heart of the Orinoco. He never put much stock in the fey world, as he had never seen the many said to inhabit Rothesay or the isles. He looked down at the shot in the racks...a seven pound ball would penetrate 5 inches of solid oak at 200 yards, and at that range you could rarely miss. Yet for all the rounds they fired at the three pirates ships, none were seen to go home. Was this "New World" vastly different from the one he knew?
Edwin shrugged...'Aye', he thought... 'ga'ing fey were a good word fa' it'. After taking shot with not seeming to get any hits, MacNeil bore away. He had followed MacNeil around and they both had run afoul of Henk Owl who was losing to lee of the line. What a botched kellte that ha' be'n. Edwin considered the misfortune that dogged his ancestors and kin...and wondered if he too was born under a fey moon.
''Tis a' me fault', Edwin thought as he recalled that he had let the quartermaster follow MacNeil around. There had been no signal that could be seen, not that much of anything could be seen in the squall. Edwin stole a glance at the quartermaster. Tall and blonde he was, but from Virginia, his family over 100 years there. The child of an exiled Caviler family for Bristol, Edwin knew his heart was in the right place...even if his family owned slaves and transported convicts. Hardiman, the quartermaster, said they were too expensive to treat poorly, more like destitute neighbors taken in after a fire to work for their remittance, but it didn't sit well with him. Transportation...stripping the highlands of people and installing English sheep on the Scottish cattle lands...funded by the wealth of tobacco harvested by the same wretches convicted of only being Scots....If the colonies rose...and there were a lot of transported Scots there...England would be stripped of her wealth, but that would take the land from "his" King also.
Edwin, was started from dark thoughts by a faint sound, different and deeper than the keen of the rigging. The patrol was running to the south in an east-west line. The corvette 'Lord of Bute' was second from the west, Henk Owl ending the line to the west.
"Cannon", Jock Armstrong the gunner said.
"Aye"; Edwin looked down the long deck as the men rose to their feet. Clyde men mostly, some borderers and men of Leith on the Forth. They looked somewhat as drear as their captain felt, but they were not beaten.
"Henk's come up to starboard...look, there's a flare!" Tom Brown the mate called from atop the mizzen chainplates.
"Damnie! We're too weal spread oot. MacNeil will ha' the Divels own chance to see tha' signal tonight! Henk! You Bluddy Stupid Bas.....Larboard your helm! Stand to your places! Heavy Shot! Up royals!" The "Laird" came on to the wind and quickly plunged into the dark as sin rain line that swallowed Henk Owl's ship, cut off from the rest of the squadron......
They emerged into a clear night full of thunder and choas. "Pirates to stb'd!..Fire! Frenchies abaft with pirates! Stern chasers! Where's Henk! More Pirates...stb'd and leeward! Start the sheets! Larboard your helm! There's Henk! Get on Henk's taffrail. NAY! Ta' other pirate!..Fire! Mind the jib boom!"
And in an instant the chaos of the world the calmed and closed down. Reaching under easy sail in Henk's wake, Edwin began to see the dance of the battle. He and Henk were broad reaching down a line of disorganized pirates, 4 it seemed. Some going against them, some with. Astern they were leaving a melee involving what seemed to be 4 Frenchwomen(!) engaged closely with 2 pirates. Then it dawned on Edwin that the pirate that was abeam of them trading broadsides was from the previous engagement and well holed....far more than could be justified by the short time he could have been engaged presently! Could the rumors be half-true? Could the Brethren conceal the damage, but not avoid it! Another broadside sank home in the villain and there was no doubt that "cald irn" could make him bleed.
"Henk is falling off" came the cry from fo'ward. As the ship ahead turned, a sandy beach was revealed. "Larboard your helm....Dyce, there helm!...more powder!... Wha' the He..!....Judas on a stick! Inshore o' Him!" Henk, after a short run down the beach, had continued around, wearing, losing speed and the 'Lord of Bute' nearly fell afoul of him.
Standing on through the narrowest of passages, the "Laird" came out nearly athwart the hawse of the pirate as he to was forced to fall off into a run. The three broadsides went off as one and then the corvette and the pirate were running off abeam alongside the beach. The pirate was damaged, but still throwing a greater weight of metal. The lighter but quicker guns of the 'Lord of Bute' were giving as well as they got. But Edwin knew he was slowly losing ground.
The small boy tugged at his sleeve. "M.M.M.M..Mister McDowell said to tell you 2 feet of water in the hold and rising"
"Thank yea, Sean, now spryly below" Stewart said as a ball came through the bulwarks and toppled two men with the splinters. "Larboard boarders awa' to the hold and ken ta the carpenter!". And still on through the night the two ships raced. 'Well that's muckle a' it' Edwin thought, 'I dea hope this a' is finished a'fore we need those lads again'. Another broadsides crashed home.
Slowly though the battle began to turn. The stout Carolina live oak and tropic teak of the corvette was holding on as the lighter native fir and white cedar of the pirate shivered. Water streamed out of the pumps and across the decks as the corvette grew more lively, and the pirate grew more slugish.
"She's down by the head lads! Faster now!" came the cry from the gunner...and with a mighty crash the mainmast went by the board as the bow plunged into the back of a wave never to rise again. On a shattered piece of wood floating in the wrack, Edwin saw the name "...de Beer" carved.
"Get her on the wind Mr. Hardiman! Mr. Brown! Kindly start clearin the decks and re-reeving aloft. Armstrong, chivvy that de-mounted gun back upon yon carriage an oot the port, we may need it!" Steward strode to the windward rail and laid his night glass on the splintered cap. Henk and a couple of the Frenchwomen seemed to be grouped around 2 or three pirates. It looked like a boarding was going on. Further away two pirates were damaged and running to lee. "A point above beam reach, Mr. Hardiman, and nay more! Let us see if we ca' catch ain o' yon twa and reign them in!"
Through the night the repairs continued as the corvette raced to make up all the ground she had lost to lee. By the time she pulled into range of the leeward most of the two fleeing, everything was as shipshape as could be made. The problem was the pirate had been busy also. "She'll cross ahead, and is fully repaired, and there look she fired a flare" Brown remarked. Edwin cast a quick glance to windward at the other pirate and the Frenchwomen trailed out behind him. "This ain and thy other will make for short work o' us a'fore our companions close up. Let her fly and try for the ain that is still cripped...Star shot!"
The corvette worked her way dead ahead of the damaged pirate ship. The pirate's masts trembled as the star shot sang across the water and slammed home. Immediately the scalawags leapt to the shrouds and began to climb with rope and canvas. "Fall awa' nimbley, nay ta' let her ram us!" The corvette shuddered as the first broadside from the pirate crashed home. At the second round of star, a heavy object rolled into Edwin's boot. Armstrong saw it. "Aye, Captain, 10 pounds at the least". A second broadside tore into the bulwarks. Edwin cast an eye aloft at the men working in the rigging of the pirate, and along his battered hull leaking bilge water over the sides from the working of the pumps, then astern at the closing Frenchwoman. "Bronze Shot" was the quiet command.
The only four ships that mattered in the world to Edwin Stewart raced on through the dark night. Two, free and unfettered, raced at full speed for their respective goals. Escape was the goal for one, vengeance for the other. The other two danced within yards of each other, a virtual hell of fire and iron.
"The Bronze Shot is doing the job" Armstrong said, "but no nay fast enough!" Tom Brown chimed in with "He has every scrap 'o rag set and we are still under battle sails...and an undamaged larboard side". McDowell came out of the hold to report "Starboard sides been stove in, 4 feet in the cable tier and rising, can't hold it with all the new holes coming in." "Still plenty of sea room" the quartermaster observed, "the frenchwoman is coming up, and we have the legs of him". Edwin's eyes locked with the quartermaster then flicked over his shoulder to the frenchwoman. "Aye lads", he nodded, " ready ta wear ship!"
The starboard broadsides boomed out, weaker for the loss of two guns. "NOW! Up sheets and tacks! Put you helm over!" the captain cried as he turned to lay the stern chasers. "PULL my Lads! Pull like you're pulling the English off your sister!" Brown shouted out as the yard came around. Armstrong chivied the gun crews over to the larboard battery. The two stern chasers rang out and struck home. Edwin turned and looked forward at the closing Frenchwoman "KEN IT LASS...SEE IT!" he willed to her across the waves. And still the corvette spun on the heel as the pirate made precious yards to lee. Then the larboard battery uncovered, looking right up the pirate's stern. "Bu**er Him!" Armstrong cried as the 8 guns went off as one. The heavy shot crashed home, but still the pirate carried on. Edwin turned back toward the Frenchwoman. Did she see? Hardiman and Brown were trying franticly to lay the corvette back on course larboard side to the pirate and make up for the ground lost by wearing.
In an almost lazy move the head of the French frigate slowly fell off. With the corvette no longer abeam the larboard side of the pirate, the frigate had a clear, but long range shot. Out spoke the heavy guns of the frigate, and a second later the pirate shuddered, then plunged.....never to rise again. "C'est la guerre" Edwin though as they raced by the shattered, floating, wreckage.
"Signal from Henk" Brown reported "Seems he found some loot...."