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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Turnbull somewhat seriously wounded


"Place

yourself two or three cables' length from his larboard quarter," Nat shouted.

Turnbull, who had leapt on to the rail to see the result of the broadside, waved his hand.

"Down topsails!" Nat shouted, "she will be handier without them."

In a moment the two great sails came fluttering down. Turnbull followed the example, and the men ran up the ratlines and furled some of the upper sails. Deprived of her head sails, the pirate was unmanageable, and the two vessels speedily ran up and laid themselves a couple of hundred yards from his quarters and opened a steady fire. The pirates endeavoured to drag two of their guns right aft, but the volleys of grape poured into them were too much for them, and although their captain was seen to shoot two of the men, the rest ran forward. The helmsman deserted his now useless post.

"Give her one more broadside," Nat shouted to Turnbull, "and then run in and board."

The captain of the pirates, mad with rage, leapt on to the taffrail and shook his fist in defiance. At that moment two rifles cracked out from the merchantman, and he fell forward into the sea. The effect of the storm of grape from the three guns of the schooner, and the four from the trader, among the men huddled up in the bow of the pirate was terrible, but knowing that their lives were forfeited if they were taken

prisoners, none made a movement aft to haul down the black flag that still floated from the peak. In two or three minutes their antagonists were alongside; a volley of musketry was poured in, and then the crews of both ships leapt on to the deck. The pirates, who were now reduced to about thirty men, rushed to meet them, determining to sell their lives dearly. But the odds were against them; they missed the voice of their captain to encourage them, and when twenty of their number had fallen, the remainder threw down their arms.

"Let no man stir a foot to go below," Nat shouted, remembering the explosion in the pirate's hold, and fearing that one of them might make straight for the magazine. He had not used his pistols in the fight, and now stood with one in each hand pointing threateningly to enforce the order.

"Mr. Lippincott, take four men below and close and securely fasten the magazine."

The middy ran down, and returned in two or three minutes to report that he had executed the order.

"Tie those fellows' feet and hands," Nat said, "and carry them down into the hold."

When this was done he was able to look round. The deck was a perfect shambles. The brigantine, as he afterwards heard, carried originally eighty hands. Ten of these had been either killed or seriously wounded in the fight with the _Thames_, and twenty had been killed on board that barque when she was retaken. Forty lay dead or dying on the deck. One of the Frenchmen had fallen, six of the sailors and three Frenchmen had been severely wounded, Turnbull somewhat seriously wounded, and Lippincott slightly. Monsieur Pickard, and the male passengers on board the _Thames_, had all joined the boarders.


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