Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/210

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

a crackling and rending of broken wood. There were clean yellow splinters flying everywhere. A man fell violently against the lieutenant, nearly overturning him, but he caught at the stays and so saved himself. For one tense moment he stood holding his breath. Then all about him arose a sudden outcry of groans and shouts and oaths. The man who had fallen against him was lying face down upon the deck. His thighs were quivering, and a pool of blood was spreading and running out from under him. There were other men down, all about the deck. Some were rising; some were trying to rise; some only moved.

There was a distant sound of yelling and cheering and shouting. It was from the pirate sloop. The pirates were rushing about upon her decks. They had pulled the cannon back, and, through the grunting sound of the groans about him, the lieutenant could distinctly hear the thud and punch of the rammers, and he knew they were going to shoot again.

The low rail afforded almost no shelter against such a broadside, and there was nothing for it but to order all hands below for the time being.

“Get below!” roared out the lieutenant. “All hands get below and lie snug for further orders!” In obedience the men ran scrambling below into the hold, and in a little while the decks were nearly clear except for the three dead men and some three or four wounded. The boatswain, crouching down close to the wheel, and the lieutenant himself were the only others upon deck. Everywhere there were smears and sprinkles of blood. “Where’s Brookes?” the lieutenant called out.

“He’s hurt in the arm, sir, and he’s gone below,” said the boatswain.

Thereupon the lieutenant himself walked over to the forecastle hatch, and, hailing the gunner, ordered him to get up another ladder, so that the men could be run up on deck if the pirates should undertake to come aboard. At that moment the boatswain at