By Dudley Pope

The Calypso and her captain, Lord Nicholas Ramage, enterprise extra into the French-dominated waters of the Mediterranean on an Admiralty challenge to sink, burn, and ruin. Aiming to confuse and distract the enemy, Ramage and his males locate themselves remoted and outnumbered as they tackle the may perhaps of Napoleon's fleet.

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3 yells got here aft from the foredeck. “Grapnel males, are sheets and braces taken care of out? ” Laughs and shouts gave him the reply. He went again to the hatch and was once startled through the swap: it can take a truly cautious exam to bare that something were performed to the carry because it used to be stowed in France or Spain; 5 skinny strains hung down a couple of inches, yet within the darkness not anyone might realize them; the hatch regarded battened down, prepared for sea. “Excellent, Stafford and Wells. You’d either make sturdy smugglers! ” “Excise males, sir,” protested Stafford. “Always at the facet of the legislation, we're. ” Jackson used to be ready through the wheel and Ramage regarded all over again at his watch. “One minute to move … Stand through, axemen. correct, lower the cable! ” a chain of thuds because the blades bit throughout the rope, a hiss of the cable snaking out the hawse and a touch because it dropped into the ocean informed him the Merle used to be adrift. “Foretopmen—lay out—let fall! ” The fore-topsail tumbled down, the moon now excessive and brilliant adequate to provide the sail a few color. Slowly he went in the course of the series of orders that set the brig’s topsails after which the classes; orders that have been tailored to the few males to be had. Jackson on the wheel wanted no orders; he had already famous the approximate place of the French seventy four, even if she was once now too far-off to determine and had most likely furled all her sails in order that she didn't appear opposed to the hills and cliffs. Ramage went aft to the taffrail and appeared down on the cutter. The boat-keeper used to be asleep, mendacity curled up within the sternsheets. The painter was once putting transparent, freed from kinks, and Ramage made up our minds to go away him, telling Jackson to provide the guy a hail when they neared the enemy. Inshore, lit up by means of the moon, Ramage may perhaps see the Muscade lower than manner on a parallel path and imagined Southwick taking a look throughout to ensure the Merle used to be o.k.. Jackson stated quietly: “It’s made Mr Southwick ten years more youthful, sir. ” “Has it quite? ” Ramage used to be startled on the comment simply because he have been so busy over the past hour on board the Calypso that, even supposing he have been giving orders to Southwick—not many, simply because they weren't necessary—he had no longer had time to note his visual appeal. “You know the way it does, as soon as he is familiar with he’s going so one can get right into a struggle, sir,” Jackson reminded him. “But this isn’t going to be a fight,” Ramage stated, discovering himself questioned back. “As I advised you all ahead of we left the Calypso, if the French trap us they’ll deal with the brigs as fire-ships and hold us all. ” “Yes, sir,” Jackson stated within the stolid means that seamen had perfected over the centuries after they replied officials who sincerely didn't comprehend the location. the boys on the sheets and braces had the sails effectively trimmed, the topmen have been down on deck and the axemen have been hoisting the headsails. quickly they too have been sheeted domestic, and the single guy doing any paintings on board the Merle used to be Jackson, who grew to become the wheel sometimes a spoke a method after which one other as he watched the luffs of the sails. “Harvest moon,” Jackson famous laconically, nodding his head to the east, the place the total moon used to be now a golden disc good away from the hills.

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