It had been three dismal days since Tony had fallen into the trap set by the Frenchmen. Having been locked in the lower deck, he and his men were reduced to peeking out of gun ports every few hours to check on the progress of the ships. Tony’s loyal fleet was still in sight, but they had fallen back due to the superior speed of their target.
Tony and his men had opened all the gun ports to let in what light could reach them. They passed the time by emptying the hold to make more space for themselves; doing this only after dark for fear that their captors would notice. By daylight, they scratched out tic- tac- toe games on the floor.
That night, they began their usual process of unloading the ship. So far, all of them together had unloaded as many as eight hundred cannonballs, and by the look of it, there were still many more. Similarly, they had emptied at least ten barrels of gunpowder, but, as if the crew didn’t know that this huge amount had already raised their ship to the status of a dormant firebomb, there were still more barrels to empty. Anthony and his men ate their meager shares of the decoy supplies, and then resumed their nightly work: After three hours of this exercise, Anthony and his men had finally succeeded in emptying out every cannonball aboard and five more barrels of gunpowder.
When they had finished with all this, they lay down in their new space and fell sound asleep. Several hours later, at about dawn, a horrendous crash woke the sleeping captives. Anthony crawled over to the nearest gun port and looked out just in time to see another cannon fire with a loud bang and bright flash. A few seconds later, there was another horrendous crash as the second mast came down. Tony ran about waking his men and yelling “Your mates are firing at this ship! They’re trying to rescue us, so do what you can to help!” A second later, the mast came crashing through the deck, opening a huge hole for the men to escape through. “Up, up, up! Quick as you like now! We can get out this way!”
The men crawled up the broken mast like squirrels, dashing to the rail and leaping overboard. As he jumped, Tony could hear his mate screeching “Cease fire! The Captain’s in the briny!” Several minutes later, Anthony, soaking wet, was standing on his own deck again for the first time in four days. “Why couldn’t you catch up sooner?!” he yelled “Fine crew you are! You leave your captain and half your crewmates headed to the gallows on starvation rations, and you don’t even try to do anything about it for three days! I can’t believe you men!” He stomped off to his cabin and slammed the door so hard that a second later his crew heard glass shattering as his window fell out.
“Fancy expecting us to catch up with a swift sailer such as that one. It was lucky enough for him that the wind came up in our best quarter in the dead of night. Who does he think he is? An Admiral?” the master muttered as he strode back to his post.