Hope Danny enjoys this chapter. He retains his dignity, and it includes his favorite line. It's also been stretched to five pages.
“Let it go!” Dameon shouted from the quarterdeck of the brothers’ ship, the Montana Ricer. He stood silently for a moment, watching the pressed crew’s rather pitiful attempts to tie down the maintopsail. As his lieutenant, David, stepped forward, he remarked “Lubbers, all of ‘em. These are the men expected to save America for the second time?”
“Don’t let it bother you. We gave them surprisingly short notice, as you know.” David replied, adjusting his hat.
Turning, Dameon answered “And how come I didn’t see you down there relaying the orders like good lieutenants do?”
“Simple. I was below, tallying the stores.”
“And is everything there?”
“Everything. Except powder and balls.”
“What?! Why are those missing?”
“Ask the yardmen. I ordered them.”
“The yardmen must be Brits, to hold powder and balls back from an American ship of war.”
“Maybe they are. But it’s your problem, not mine. You’re the Captain.”
“I’ll see to it, then. Meanwhile, get the men arranged in watches.”
“Aye.” Was all that David said in reply, as he touched his hat in salute and left the quarterdeck.
Nearly twenty minutes later, it having taken that long to arrange the crew in the proper manner to see the captain off the ship, David seized the speaking-trumpet and shouted through it. “You! Beat the call as I instructed you!”
The startled seaman standing nearest to the large drum on the deck began beating it furiously as David shouted through the trumpet. “All hands on deck! All hands on deck!”
It took several minutes longer than David had hoped, but another ten minutes later, the entire crew down to the last pressed militiaman acting in place of a marine, were arranged in suitable lines. The moment they were settled, David addressed them.
“Men! If you’re worried about your standing on this ship, worry no more, for we need every one of you, and there isn’t a man aboard who has served on a ship before, excepting your Steersman and your Officers. I could tell just by having been forced to wait so long to see you all here. So we’re all in the same boat, see.” This phrase, being so fit for their current position, set the men laughing. Striving hard to stifle his own laughter, David called “Silence!” through the trumpet several times. When they were quiet, he resumed. “It is now my duty to assign your positions on board the ship, and your hours on watch. There are six boys on this ship, and I believe that we only need four, which means that the two eldest, those twins on the end whom I still can’t tell apart, ought to be ranked as Master’s Mates, so they can learn something useful.”
“What do master’s mates do, exactly?” Mark asked.
Gabriel answered from the other side of the line. “They learn to sail the ship under the Master, that being myself, who does the sailing.”
“We might actually get to sail the ship?”
“Might, yes. But most of it would have to be hearsay and memory until Gabriel is certain that you know how to steer. And now, to continue our present business.” Without further interruption, David assigned a position to each of the men and dismissed the company. “As soon as you hear the call, I expect all of you to present yourselves to dress the side for the Captain’s arrival.”
A short time later, as the sails were being unfurled under David’s orders, he heard a shout come from a boat approaching the ship, which could only be Dameon coming back. “Deck there! Captain’s returning!”
Immediately, David began calling “Belay! Hands to dress the side!”
In another moment, the ship’s company was lined up properly, standing shoulder to shoulder at a right angle to the rail, while the fifer began playing on his pipe. A minute later, Dameon was on his own deck once more. Dismissing the men, he turned to David and spoke, his accent returning to his native lowland Scottish as it always did when he was upset.
“The rouges! Those swindlers? Calling themselves dockhands in America? A deaf man could tell they’re bloody Englishmen!” Having roused himself this far, Dameon went even farther: when he was murderously angry, he would begin shouting in Gaelic, much of which would have made even an unsophisticated sailor cringe.
Once Dameon had stopped, David, who had only vaguely understood the Gaelic, replied “Are you sure? Do you really think they’re that bad?”
“Of course! As sure as I’m the Armstrong they’re that bad! That’s why I avoid Englishmen like the plague, unless I’ve got them on the wrong side of a hot gun that I’m about to fire!”
“That may be, but you need to calm yourself now, for you know as well as I do that a captain who doesn’t keep his temper in check is in danger of mutiny and court-martial.”
“Don’t worry. I am calm enough now anyway. I shall need some men to load our powder and shot, though.”
Turning around, David spotted four men leaning over the rail on the other side of the ship, talking among themselves. Speaking sharply, he called them over. “You four! Over here!” When they had come close enough, he continued “Get yourselves into the launch. We’ve not finished loading.”
As the men went down the side into the launch, which not yet been raised since Dameon’s arrival, Dameon told David “I want no ceremony this time. Just have the men ready to stow the stores when I return.”
“May I ask why you seem so nonchalant about your return to the yard? Surely you’re no mood to face those Brits again so soon?”
“I knocked ‘em down. I’ve never met a Brit that a brave Scottish arm couldn’t knock down, and I don’t expect to. I have just one order for you: while I’m gone, I want you working the crew, to find out if your old ship still sails like it used to.”
Saluting, David stood silently until Dameon had gone around the bow of the ship. Then, he retrieved his speaking trumpet once more and called out “Hands to wear ship!”
Five minutes later, the maneuver was completed, and the old Ricer had her bow pointed toward the open sea. David spoke again. “Not a particularly bad job, considering that all of you are lubbers. But we really must be faster than that. If we were chasing a ship, or being chased ourselves, we could have been overtaken in the time it took us to wear. Bear that in mind, and now put a reef in the sails.”
It was nearly an hour later when David spotted Dameon returning. Dameon appeared to have ‘borrowed’ the yard’s barge and hired several more men to help his men with the load. In minutes the barge was tied alongside the Ricer and the crew had commenced the loading of so0me of the most important stores on a ship of war; the powder and balls. These were many and large, for the Ricer carried fifty thirty-two pounders and two twelve- pounders in the bow. When the task was finished, David approached Dameon once more and saluted, saying “All stores present and correct, Sir.”
“I should know. I’ve seen them already. What do you think those two boys over there on the port rail are doing?”
Turning around to discern who was meant, David saw Mark and Matt talking amiably. Mark appeared to be imitating hauling a fishing line, as both strived to stifle their laughter.
“What are they doing idling by the rail like that? What are they supposed to be doing, anyhow?”
“I assigned them as Master’s mates. They’re under Gabriel on board ship.”
“Call them over anyway. If we don’t try to keep them under discipline now, they’ll stretch their luck too far someday. Remember when I warned them that their father’s memory wouldn’t keep them out of the brig if I caught them?”
“Yes” David answered resignedly. Raising his voice, he called to them. “Mark, Matt, the Captain wants you!”
Looking up, the twins replied “The Captain wants us? On the double, then!” A moment later, they were racing across the deck, causing David to leap out of their way to avoid being knocked into Dameon like a domino. They skidded to a halt only two feet from Dameon.
When they had come to a complete stop, Dameon said “Why are you two not doing your duty?”
“The Master excused us, Sir.”
“He did? Well tell that your leave is revoked, and he’s to come on deck to get the ship underway. It’s high time we were gone.”
Just then, Dameon was hailed from the crow’s nest. “Deck there! Admiral’s flagship is signaling, Sir!”
“What’s the message?”
Reading the message took the man a few minutes, as he was consulting the signal-book for every letter. “Send my boy across. I am leaving on the tide!”
Speaking to David once more, Dameon said “Is he? As if we aren’t! Pass the word for Michael, though. Anthony wants him on board his own ship. He must send us a midshipman to replace him, though” Shouting up to the signalman, he continued “Acknowledge, man, and request a replacement.”
It was only then that Dameon noticed that Gabriel had been waiting silently for a chance to report throughout his dialogue concerning Anthony’s message. He turned to look at Gabriel. “And what do you want?”
“Reporting for duty, Sir.”
“Good. I’m also glad to see that you know the importance of discipline. Make your preparations to get this ship underway. We’re racing Anthony out of the harbor.”
“Not exactly. But to uphold his dignity as an Admiral, he’ll feel bound to run a ship better than we do. Do you see my meaning?”
“Aye.” Saluting Dameon, Gabriel said “The tide is still rising. We should get the anchor in before it begins to ebb, or we’ll miss the tide we’ve been waiting for.”
Taking the hint, David called to the drummer. “Beat the hands to the windlass. We’re taking in the anchor!”
Only two minutes later, after a few vigorous beats to the drum, several crewmen were marching energetically around the windlass, hauling in the anchor. That done, Dameon continued “Loosen the mainsail and break out the mizzensail and the foresail!” A few minutes later, this was also completed. As the last sail was tallied, Dameon checked the wind and the tide. “Couldn’t have done it better;” he remarked to David “Wind’s from the west, and tide’s just beginning to ebb.”
Every other man seemed to have to have noticed this also, as a rousing cheer went up all along the ship a moment later. “Silence!” Dameon called “Master’s watch is to remain on deck. All others go below!” He watched as most of the crew filed down the hatchway. He could hear Gabriel, now that the ship was underway, giving orders to the twins. “Go heave the log. Let it trail behind us for a minute and tell me how many knots go underwater.”
“Aye, Sir.” The twins replied. Finding the log, they threw it overboard and watched it for a few moments, then called “Five, Sir!”
“Only five! This old tub sails faster than that, though of course we don’t have all the sails set and there’s no current in the harbor. Bring it in now.”
Deciding that, as yet, the Master’s information could be ignored, Dameon turned to David and said “Raise the colors.”
“If you look, you can see that someone’s done that already.”
Dameon looked and saw a – Jolly Roger flying from the masthead. “Wha-Who put that thing up there?”
“Would you like a guess?”
“No, no. Just get that struck instantly.”
A few minutes later, as David was busy having Old Glory raised, another cheer went up from the watch. Looking up, he saw what had caused the noise. “We’ve beaten Anthony out of the harbor, clear and away! I’m afraid he’ll be stuck there all day until the tide returns, unless he has himself rowed off!” With that, David joined in the cheers.
The next morning, as Dameon rose to put on his best sea-boots, he got an unpleasant surprise. His boots made loud squelching sounds as he pulled them on. Pulling them off again hastily, he turned them upside-down and soon discovered that there was an inch of water on his cabin floor which had not been there moments before. Angrily, he exclaimed “My best pair! Ruined!” Retrieving his second pair, he stomped out of his cabin, slamming the door. As he emerged, he could hear laughter coming from behind the foremast, across the ship from Dameon’s cabin. Starting toward it, Dameon saw the twins split up and break away to hide. Deciding to catch one and find out which one he was later, Dameon came after the one who appeared to be heading for David’s cabin. “So he thinks his Godfather’ll protect him from me! Not on board!” he thought to himself. “David! Get out here! I need you!”
“I’d love to come, but my best boots were full of seawater!”
“They did yours too?”
“Yes. And there’s a live fish in one of them!”
A minute later, David came out, and thy soon caught the twin, who proved to be Matt. As he climbed up the mast, Matt called “It was Mark’s idea! You’ll find him some where in the hold!”
Going toward the nearest hatchway, Dameon and David soon began to hear loud groans coming from the hold. As they began to come down the ladder, they heard Mark’s voice. “No, please! Don’t come down! You’ll step on me!”
“Fine. We’ll lower a line. Are you able to hold on?”
“Yes, just get me out of here!”
A few minutes later, David and Dameon hauled up a thoroughly depressed Mark. When they let him go to see if he could stand, he nearly collapsed on the deck. “I’ll have to confine you to my cabin.” Dameon announced “You’re not fit to do anything. You won’t be for weeks. You had some promise. Now Matt will be a better Master than you will. At least now we’ll know which of you is which. We’ll just ask you each to steer a ship.”
Taking this as sarcasm, Mark laughed loudly as David helped him toward Dameon’s cabin.