The sea air was crisp, and the spray tossed up by the bow of the Smiling Dutchman blew back into Russell’s face. It was good to be free and in command of his own ship. Too much time had passed since he crossed sabers with anyone of mettle, and the merchantman two hundred yards off the starboard bow had led them in a merry chase. Russell was anxious to close the deal, so to speak.
Soon the distance closed to one hundred and fifty yards, then one hundred. In a matter of minutes, they would be close enough to board her. Russell’s heart was pounding, and he trembled in anticipation. Fifty yards. Twenty-five. The Smiling Dutchman swept alongside the slower, smaller ship, her twenty-six twelve pound cannons at the ready. At point blank range, each ship raked the other with a deafening broadside volley. The smaller ship, with only half the cannons, and smaller, eight-pound shot, reeled at the impact, and by the time the guns of the Smiling Dutchman were reloaded, was already listing slightly to port. The merchantman’s next, much feebler volley was wasted by firing into the water just short of the hull of the larger pirate ship.
Russell shouted an order, and grapples sailed through the air, snaring the merchantman and pulling her into contact with the Smiling Dutchman’s hull. Russell bared his teeth in a frightening grimace and yelled at the top of is lungs, “Boarders away! Take no prisoners, boys. Take their food, powder, shot and everything else you can carry, and throw the rest overboard!”
The throaty roar of three dozen hardened buccaneers was suddenly drowned out by Matilda, the page of her magazine rustling as she turned it. “Sit down, Russell. You know how the neighbors complained the last time you kicked their door in. If you do it again, they won’t have to call the cops; I’ll do it for them.”