Bolitho 29 - Heart of oak by Alexander Kent

Bolitho 29 - Heart of oak by Alexander Kent

Author:Alexander Kent [Kent, Alexander]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction:Historical
Publisher: Arrow
Published: 2011-05-27T19:10:14+00:00


?charge!’ Then the mood changed. ‘They just gave the word to douse the galley stove. You know what that means.’ Jago pushed the thought aside and said roughly, ‘When all this is over, you can get some new middy’s breeches made up here on board, right?’ ‘Indeed, yes. Jeff Lloyd,’ grinning, ‘another Welshman, see?’ ‘Him that patched up one of the Cap’n’s coats? He was well pleased.’ Morgan winked. ‘He’s a craftsman right enough. Did some work for our late and lamented Captain Richmond, God rest his soul.’ He looked toward the screen door as if he were listening. ‘Jeff Lloyd’s good, right enough. But don’t trust him with your–’ There was a rap at the door. ‘Ship’s corporal, sir!’ The man peered around the door, his eyes everywhere but on the occupants. Like most visitors to this sanctuary. ‘Hands to quarters, sir,’ he said to Napier. There was a bloodstain on his jacket; he had helped cut the prisoner from the gratings. The door closed, and Morgan said softly, ‘So, now we know.’ Jago looked over at the midshipman. ‘Ready?’ He heard the thump of feet, some running, and the muffled scrape of screens being lowered. They would be here soon, and this would be a cabin no more, but a part of the ship. This silent clearing for action, without the urgent rattle of drums and the shrill of calls deck to deck, somehow seemed more threatening. Napier stood by the long, high-backed bergere, and touched its worn leather for a few more seconds. lay here. He lifted his chin. ‘Aye, ready!’

Adam Bolitho climbed on to the nettings and trained his telescope across the tightly packed hammocks; even through his sleeve, they felt hot in the strong sunlight. Behind him, the ship was quiet again, as if it had been only another drill or exercise. Waiting for a verdict, before being dismissed.

?He gripped the telescope, so familiar to his hand now, like an old friend. He could sense Vincent standing nearby, had felt his disapproval when he had been told to clear for action. Perhaps they all shared his doubts about their captain’s judgment. He took a deep breath, focusing it, and saw the schooner spring to life in the powerful lens. Scarred paint, and the patches which were different shades of canvas in her sails, hard-worked like the vessel herself. He blinked, waiting for the image to steady once more. There were some figures in a group, almost midships. And one in uniform further aft near a small deckhouse or companion. Probably the schooner’s helm. Her colours were vivid against the sky, but the signal, whatever it was, had been hauled down. Vincent said, ‘Maybe they’ll lower a boat, sir. They can hail each other, if she stays on course.’ Adam lowered the glass. He had seen the boat towing from the schooner. Some kind of galley, probably a local craft. He had seen plenty of them at Algiers. It was closer to the schooner than before. Under her quarter… .


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