Throughout, historical and fictional characters cross their paths to help and hinder, but not all survive to achieve their goals in this first book of the Tween Sea and Shore Series.
“Cease firing, we have struck!” A shout came from the poop deck above him.
Angered, Captain Watson turned to his first lieutenant, who was just as puzzled by the command. “Who called the strike, Lieutenant?” As the first lieutenant climbed the stairs to figure it out, a blast
from le Content shattered the helm. It instantly killed both helmsmen and took away the wheel in splinters. The ship lurched as the wind spilled from the sails, freeing the ship of any control.
“Damn the rascals. Leave firing and house your guns, we’ve struck!” The curse bellowed from the poop deck. It was the shipmaster trying to surrender. He and the gun master came running down the stairs followed by the first lieutenant.
The three hurried to the ashen captain, the shipmaster was shaking with fear. “We will all be killed! They are going to rake us fore and aft, Captain. Strike and let us cut away the masts, we’ll be retaken tomorrow. The ship is without a helm and can’t continue.”
French cannons continued firing through the dense powder smoke, unaware the Northumberland’s shipmaster had struck its colors. The officers carried the pallid captain below to the purser’s cabin for the surgeon to tend. In a faint breath, Captain Watson gave a weak order. “Put her before the wind and continue the fight.”
Unsure whether the existing damage put their warship in any danger of sinking, the first lieutenant sent for the master carpenter. Within a minute, Abraham arrived in the purser’s cabin. “There’s not an inch of water leaking in, sir. She’s in fine shape below.”
The shipmaster and the first lieutenant returned to the poop deck to consider Captain Watson’s order, but the firing subsided just as the captain fainted dead away.
Abraham started back for the orlop deck when the ship bumped something. Shouts of “Cease your fire!” came from the upper deck, then the tromping of feet from French marines. The shipmaster had struck the colors, and the French had boarded.
“My God, we didn’t strike, did we?” Captain Watson asked as a French lieutenant came to accept his surrender. Mister Lake, working on his wound, ignored the French soldiers, too busy to care.
“Oui, sir. Your ship is surrendered,” said the French officer in English.
“The fool.” Captain Watson, with little strength left, motioned to the doctor to hand him his sword; while still in the surgeon’s hand, the captain pushed it toward the Frenchman. “Here, I won’t need it any longer.”
“He’s finished,” said the lieutenant to two marine guards as he took the sword. “Get the English officers on the upper gun deck so
I can instruct them. Unarm the crew and take them to the gun deck. Careful, many will want to continue fighting!”
Abraham, understanding the exchange, was aghast: his ship had surrendered, his captain was seriously wounded, and worse—he was a prisoner of war!