Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/204

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

It was about noon when anchor was hoisted, and, with the schooner leading, both vessels ran slowly in before a light wind that had begun to blow toward midday. In each vessel a man stood in the bows, sounding continually with lead and line. As they slowly opened up the harbor within the inlet, they could see the pirate sloop lying about three miles away. There was a boat just putting off from it to the shore.

The lieutenant and his sailing master stood together on the roof of the cabin deckhouse. The sailing master held a glass to his eye. “She carries a long gun, sir,” he said, “and four carronades. She’ll be hard to beat, sir, I do suppose, armed as we are with only light arms for close fighting.”

The lieutenant laughed. “Why, Brookes,” he said, “you seem to think forever of these men showing fight. You don’t know them as I know them. They have a deal of bluster and make a deal of noise, but when you seize them and hold them with a strong hand, there’s naught of fight left in them. ’Tis like enough there’ll not be so much as a musket fired to-day. I’ve had to do with ’em often enough before to know my gentlemen well by this time.” Nor, as was said, was it until the very last that the lieutenant could be brought to believe that the pirates had any stomach for a fight.

The two vessels had reached perhaps within a mile of the pirate sloop before they found the water too shoal to venture any farther with the sail. It was then that the boat was lowered as the lieutenant had planned, and the boatswain went ahead to sound, the two vessels, with their sails still hoisted but empty of wind, pulling in after with sweeps.

The pirate had also hoisted sail, but lay as though waiting for the approach of the schooner and the sloop.

The boat in which the boatswain was sounding had run in a considerable distance ahead of the two vessels, which were gradually creeping up with the sweeps until they had reached to within less