Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/209

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Jack Ballister’s Fortunes

The pirate stood out boldly against the cloudy sky. Somebody seemed to speak to him from behind. He turned his head and then he turned round again. “We’re only peaceful merchantmen!” he called out. “What authority have you got to come down upon us this way? If you’ll come aboard I’ll show you my papers and that we’re only peaceful merchantmen.”

“The villains!” said the lieutenant to the master, who stood beside him. “They’re peaceful merchantmen, are they! They look like peaceful merchantmen, with four carronades and a long gun aboard!” Then he called out across the water, “I’ll come aboard with my schooner as soon as I can push her off here.”

“If you undertake to come aboard of me,” called the pirate, “I’ll shoot into you. You’ve got no authority to board me, and I won’t have you do it. If you undertake it ‘twill be at your own risk, for I’ll neither ask quarter of you nor give none.”

“Very well,” said the lieutenant, “if you choose to try that, you may do as you please; for I’m coming aboard of you as sure as heaven.”

“Push off the bow there!” called the boatswain at the wheel. “Look alive! Why don’t you push off the bow?”

“She’s hard aground!” answered the gunner. “We can’t budge her an inch.”

“If they was to fire into us now,” said the sailing master, “they’d smash us to pieces.”

“They won’t fire into us,” said the lieutenant. “They won’t dare to.” He jumped down from the cabin deckhouse as he spoke, and went forward to urge the men in pushing off the boat. It was already beginning to move.

At that moment the sailing master suddenly called out, “Mr. Maynard! Mr. Maynard! they’re going to give us a broadside!”

Almost before the words were out of his mouth, before Lieutenant Maynard could turn, there came a loud and deafening crash, and then instantly another, and a third, and almost as instantly