Dave McChesney (vespican) wrote,
Dave McChesney

And so the Story Continues.

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In progress photo of art work for Sailing Dangerous Waters, depicting HRMS Furious battling an as yet unportrayed Gallician frigate.

Here are the final couple of pages from Chapter Twenty Four, "HMS Pickle," of Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story.  Enjoy!  (It's probably as close to real history as the Stone Island Sea Stories get.)

            The wound was not serious, a mere scratch as he saw it, and the end of the afternoon watch saw Pierce on deck again.  Morgan had insisted that his captain get some rest, and after treating the wound himself, Doctor Matheson being aboard the prize, had stood duty until Pierce awoke.
            “Where’s Sollars?” Pierce asked, half hoping the hands had pitched the bastard into the sea.
            “Below, sir.  In chains and well guarded.”  Morgan flexed his knees slightly.  “A little roughed up, I’m afraid.  There were a great many volunteers to see him below.”
            Pierce nodded.  Several of the crew had served with Sollars in Theadora and couldn’t resist a chance to settle with their former second lieutenant.  “No doubt he fell down the ladder?”
            “Three times,” said Morgan, with a knowing and barely perceptible smile.  “I think the weather eases some.  It doesn’t pain me as it did.”
            “The prize?”
            As before sir.  Minimum sail, and in sight to leeward.”
            Pierce turned to look for the corvette, forgetting the wound Sollars had inflicted with his own pistol.  “Damn!” he exclaimed painfully.
            Before he could draw a breath and recover, the foremast lookout hollered.  “Sail off the port quarter!”
            “Details, man, details!”  yelled Morgan.
            “A schooner, sir!  Driving hard, and coming up fast.  Too much sail in this weather, I think sir!”
            “A Frog, sir?” asked Morgan.
            “I wouldn’t have the foggiest, Tom,” replied Pierce.  “Should it be, do we attempt a second prize?”
            “I shouldn’t advise it, sir.  We are undermanned and stretched to the limits as it is, now.”
            “My thought as well.  But do have our colors hoisted, and signal Mr. Hotchkiss as well.  Add that he may set additional sail as the weather eases.”
            “Aye aye, sir.”
            A few moments after the blue ensign broke out in the wind aboard Island Expedition and the captured corvette, the lookout hailed again.  “The white ensign, sir, and driving like mad!”
            “Mr. Hadley, aloft with you, sir!” said Pierce.  “My best glass, if you wish, and see if you can make her number!”
            Moments later the midshipman hollered down the approaching schooner’s recognition number.  Pierce couldn’t relate it to a particular craft and went below to consult the code book.  Back on deck, he said to all who waited anxiously for an identity to be placed on the fast approaching vessel.  “His Majesty’s Schooner Pickle, I believe, gentlemen, Lieutenant John Lapenotiere.”
            “Pickle, sir?  Why I believe she’s an advice schooner attached to Nelson.”
            “With the way she cracks on, she must have dispatches of some importance!” stated O’Brien.
            The vessel was now observable from deck, and even in the lessoning wind, Pierce thought she carried to much sail.  She was a small schooner, rigged in the traditional topsail schooner fashion.  Had she been a foe, Island Expedition would have been more than a match for her.  On her present hard driving course she would soon pass close by the larger schooner and her prize.
            “Mr. Morgan, do see that our recognition signal is out, sir!” ordered Pierce.
            “Aye aye, sir.”
            As the second dog watch began the smaller schooner neared to hailing range.  “What news, sir, if I may?” hollered Pierce with the aid of a speaking trumpet.
            “A great victory at Trafalgar, sir!” came the reply.  “Alas, poor Nelson was done in.”
            “We rejoice in the victory and mourn England’s great loss!” shouted Pierce in response.  “Mr. Morgan, a moment of silence about the deck!”  When the moment had passed, Pierce continued.  “And now lads, a cheer for His Majesty’s Schooner Pickle!”
            When the “huzzas” and the “hurrahs” died away, Pierce turned to Morgan.  “Do allow us to close with the prize, that we may inform Mr. Hotchkiss of the news.”
            “Aye aye, sir!”
            When the evening watch was set, all that could be seen of the small schooner were her lights as she raced towards England with her triumphant yet sobering news.
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