Under a Renegade Flag (Part 7)
The lights of the pirate ships were
around their sterncastles. Lights from the Officers
quarters I'd wager! There were riding lights on the mast
truck and the foc's'le....about 300 yards to go. I could
hear raucous laughter coming from one of them, I was
watching Moses in the other boat. He signalled with his
arm raised, then made a curving gesture (He was going to
take his boat around the bow of the first ship and onto
the second!)...that left us with the first in line!
"Gently men! Gently! Lay on your oars!" The oars were
lifted from the water and held horizontally above it, we
softly glided through the night. I signalled Moses that
I would turn to the stern of the first ship! He
acknowledged with a wave and stood to attention and
saluted! I smiled at the gesture. I had come to have
great affection for Moses!
Last 100 yards! The way was coming off the boat, and the
tide was moving us away from her. I had to take a chance
and use the oars again to ensure we came underneath her
"Softly men! Give way together! 5 strokes and feather!"
The oars dipped silently into the water, and I felt the
boat get back under way! 50 yards! I looked astern,
watching for Benney with the pick-up boat. It would be a
fair swim, but I had ordered we stay underwater for as
much of it as we could for the first 50 yards! Slowly we
came under the counter of the first ship! I raised my
finger for silence!! A cough or a sneeze now would give
us away! The singing and carousing was coming from the
other ship! I looked upwards as we rounded the stern of
this ship. I could just make out some letters in gilt
paint...S..P...R. We had the "Esperanto" so Moses had
the "Lucifer"! I made meanings for the oars to be
shipped entirely! Holding my breath whilst they were
shipped...waiting for the bump of timber on timber!
Nothing! Well done men! My hands reached for the timbers
along the waterline, weed and barnacle encrusted! She
would not have the best turn of speed with this lot
around her skirts!!! It might be an indication of the
rest of them...If "Black Swan" was just as badly
maintained, then we might stand a chance in a fight!
Careening, and cleaning the hull below the waterline was
essential to retain the ship's turn of speed!
I worked my way hand over hand across the stem of the
ship, I stopped for a moment to glance back the way we
had come to see if I could see Benney. In the distance I
could see a small patch of white...this was the piece of
Calico I had asked Benney to hang over the bow of his
boat to show us the way to her! We were ready! I gave
the order to assemble the kindling and wood shavings
around the Powder barrel, hoping Moses was doing the
same! No sign of any sentry! No alarms!
"Right men!" I whispered. "When you're finished, over
the side with you all! I'll finish up!"
A few minutes later and I felt the whaler heel as the
first of the crew slipped over the side, submerged and
was gone! Three more followed....As I felt the fourth
go, I clambered for'ard to the accumulated dunnage and
tinder...it was all set! The tide was running across the
stern of Esperanto, I needed to tie-off at her rudder
pintle. I quickly lashed a line to her rudder and
waited, our boat swung gently in the tide, curving in an
arc under her starboard counter and bumping gently
against her side! Exactly where I wanted her to be! I
made fast the heaving line to a thwart midships in the
boat and waited! She gently nudged the side, and again,
and again...then stayed glued in place! Excellent!
I bent low to the explosive parcel, and held the flint
and stone implement in the tinder box amongst the wood
shavings...Click! No spark! Click! Click...I paused
waiting for some sound of alarm? Nothing! Click! Click!
several sparks were going into the nest of
material...Suddenly a small flame! I blew on it and the
nest caught fire! I waited a few moments whist it took
hold! Time to go!!! I slipped noiselessly over the side!
I hoped Moses had managed to set his charge too! I
ducked under water, and swam until my lungs were
bursting! I surfaced, I was about 30 yards away! I dived
below the surface again, and made a greater effort! My
lungs were burning! I kept going! Unable to stay under
any longer, I surfaced! That was a better effort! I was
about 60 yards away and I could see the whaler, well
alight under the Esperanto's stern! I looked around for
any more crew....Benney's boat was off to my left! I
changed direction and headed for her..He was hedging his
bets and taking us towards wher Moses' men would appear!
By this time I was able to swim on the surface! Too late
now for subterfuge! Heedless of the noise I was making I
headed for Benney...I could now see other heads bobbing
along in front of me...BOOOM!!!! The first explosion lit
up the night sky! In the brightness I could see Moses'
men's heads bobbing along 100 yards away, heading for
the boat too! WHAM!!! Another huge explosion!! This one
was ours!!! The night became day! Huge orange flame lit
the night sky! Both ships were well alight, with flames
searing upwards into the shrouds! BOOM!!! Another
explosion! Followed quickly by two more!!! The night sky
was orange!!! You could have seen a mouse move on the
headland! Squalus was prominently outlined in the glare!
I was alongside Benney's boat! Hands helped me aboard,
and I collapsed gasping into the bilge! Men were crammed
around the small boat, 10 men would have to squeeze into
the area normally containing 5!! A few worrying moments,
a head count....two missing...but two heads bobbing 10
yards away in the orange glare! All returned!!
I looked in awe at the spectacle of the two burning
ships! Our target must have had ammunition on deck for
the other explosions that followed our first! Five
minutes later, and willing hands were hauling the last
two men inboard! Last of all was Moses! His white teeth
gleaming as he was hauled inboard!
"All present Mister Allen Suh! We can make fo the ship!"
I stood and addressed the crew! "Well
done men! A job
well done indeed! Let's go Mr Benney!"
Our boat turned and as we all struggled to keep out of
the way...oarsmen began to pull toward Squalus! A JOB
WELL DONE INDEED!!!!
We pulled for Squalus, and as we approached, I looked
back at the inferno that was the two pirate ships. Were
there any survivors I wondered? They could have gotten a
boat away and made it to the shore. I trusted in
justice, and hoped they would not cause a problem for
any of the mainlanders if they did come ashore!
We tied off against the Jacob's ladder, lowered over the
side by Van Eike. I quickly urged the crew up onto the
deck and we recovered the boat, stowing it tightly in
"Come below Number One! We need to talk!"
I went below with the Captain, we stepped into his
saloon cabin, and he offered me some of his famous
Cherry Geneva gin! I took the glass containing the fiery
liquid and raised it to my lips.
"A toast is called for I think Mr Allen!.....To Squalus
"To Squalus and success sir!" I repeated. He downed his
glass in one go, and, his eyes bade me do the same!
"That was well executed Number One! A job well done! Now
for the main target, Le Cochon!"
"The crew were first rate Captain, I could not have done
the job without them, so it was a team effort! And a
good team at that! I feel a great confidence in our
future exploits with men like them manning this ship!"
"That may be so Allen! But it's not to take anything
away from the planning and execution that was yours
alone!..Now! What do you think our next move should
be...We shall need some time to work this ship up to
full fighting fitness don't you think?"
"Aye sir! I do!...I think it will take us a couple of
weeks of trials before we can think of being ready to
take on RedBeard and his gang of cutthroats!
"There's also the need to sign the Local
Administration's agreement regarding Privateersmen and
Privateering! there will be a list of potential enemies
and factual enemies to be considered...This may take
some time, but is essential if we want to make this
"Aye Sir I agree! What are your feeling about M
Baptiste? Do you think he's hand in glove with RedBeard?
I think he is! I think that Redbeard and his Late brace
of ships plunder, loot, kidnap and rape at their
leisure...the bounty or booty being dispensed to
Baptiste to be sold on the black market! I also have my
suspicions that he is involved in the slavery
trade...albiet illegally...He says he doesn't have a
My thoughts drifted to Anna and our last encounter! She
made my whole being come alive! I needed her now to help
me celebrate our victory over the pirate thugs! Squalus
was heeling to Starboard, the swell surging along her
Starboard side, echoing around the cabin as we sat and
discussed the final hand-over details to be undertaken.
Baptiste would not be happy that we had used Squalus to
engage the enemy tonight without his consent...but needs
must, and it was a necessary manouvre to lessen the odds
The Captain had taken my glass and refilled it...
"I would love to know Number One...what were those two
ships doing in Liberty Bay without the "Black Swan"??
It's a pity we could not have stayed to pick up
survivors, we might have learnt the......"
There was a sudden light tap on the cabin door! A
puzzled look crossed the face of Van Eike.
"Who the devil can that be?....ENTER!!"
It was Anna....her fearful eyes locked on mine, and I
saw her face, her whole body relax when she saw me!
"Capitaine! I woner if all crew are safe? Are all crew
"They certainly are M'm'selle! Thanks to the brilliant
idea undertaken by our Number One here!"
"And Moses and the rest of the crew!!" I interjected.
"Humpf! Aye! and the others!"
"They are all safe non? Tres Bien!! That is good! And
the ....ummm...bateau de Le Cochon? is Fini??"
I could tell how anxious she was by her return to the
pidgin English she used when under stress!
"Yes Anna" I said" They are finished...they have both
I saw the look of relief cross her face, her shoulders
slumped as the strain disappeared immediately she heard
"Anna?" I spoke tentatively, "I would like to ask you
something! I know you have certain fears about your
father and RedBeard...their business dealings as you
"Crees? What do you say?"
"Anna! I think Redbeard plunders and loots Merchant
shipping and kidnaps passengers with no fear of
reprisals...I wonder why that is? Can you enlighten us
about your father's dealings with Redbeard?"
She was silent for many minutes, eyes downcast...when
she looked up, I saw the wetness of tears.
"Capitaine!....'E is my Papa! I love him very dear! But
I think maybe he buy plundered goods from "Le Cochon"
Then 'e sell them again in the market!...'e 'as also,
one time, paid money for slaves to be brought to island!
For work in the plantations! 'E do business with
Englishman called M Glover! This is all I know! But I
think maybe he is do not nice things!..but 'e is my
"Thank you Anna! I give you my word we will be very
discreet...and will not mention your name...but we have
to find out why redbeard can loot and plunder with
immunity? We have to know the whole picture! find out
the whole network, if we are to rid the seas of him and
his kind! And for you to live in peace!"
She raised her eyes to mine, and I could see whe was
torn between her fear for the Island and it's
people...and...the loyalty to her father!
"Capitaine Eike...I will do my best to fin' out what I
can about 'is business, but it will not be easy!"
"Be careful Anna! Be very careful!" I warned..."You will
have to tread very warily!!!"....VERY WARILY!!