Well argue that point by-and-by, replied Jack; now let us consult as to our measures. My opinion is, that if I made more sail we should beat the frigate, but she would come up with the prizes.
Thats the best thing we can do, Mr. Easy; but let us send a boat on board of them, and take out all the men that can possibly be spared, that there may be no excuse for impressing them.
Yes, replied Gascoigne; and as the wind is falling it is possible it may fall calm, and they may send their boats; suppose we separate a mile or two from each other.
Dat very good advice, Massa Gascoigne, observed Mesty.
This plan was acted upon; only three men were left in the lateens, and four in the galliot, and the vessels, in obedience to the orders, sheered off on both sides of the Rebiera, who made all sail and started ahead of the prizes. This manuvre was perceived on board of the frigate, and made them sure that it was a Spanish convoy attempting to escape. The fire-engine was got on deck, sails wetted, and every exertion made to come up. But about four oclock in the afternoon, when the frigate was eight or nine miles off, it fell calm, as Gascoigne had predicted, and the heads of all the vessels, as well as the frigate, were now round the compass.
Theres out boats, said Mr. Oxbelly; they will have a long pull, and all for nothing.
How savage they will be! observed Gascoigne.
Never mind that, replied Jack; Mesty says that dinner is ready.
After dinner, they all went on deck, and found that the boats had separated, one pulling for each of the prizes, and two for the Rebiera. In less than an hour they would probably be alongside.
And now let us decide how we are to act. We must not resist, if they attempt to impress the men?
Ive been thinking upon that matter, Mr. Easy, and it appears to me that the men must be permitted to act as they please, and that we must be neuter. I, as a lieutenant in his majestys service, cannot of course act, neither can Mr. Gascoigne. You are not in the service, but I should recommend you to do the same. That the men have a right to resist, if possible, is admitted; they always do so, and never are punished for so doing. Under the guns of the frigate, of course, we should only have to submit; but those two boats do not contain more than twenty-five men, I should think, and our men are the stronger party. We had better leave it to them, and stand neuter.
Dat very good advice, said Mesty; leab it to us; and Mesty walked away forward where the seamen were already in consultation.
Jack also agreed to the prudence of this measure, and he perceived that the seamen, after a consultation with Mesty, were all arming themselves for resistance.
The boats were now close on board, and English colours were hoisted at the gaff. This did not, however, check the impetus of the boats, who, with their ensigns trailing in the still water astern of them, dashed alongside, and an officer leaped on board, cutlass in hand, followed by the seamen of the frigate. The men of the Rebiera remained collected forward Easy, Gascoigne, and Oxbelly aft.
What vessel is this? cried the lieutenant who commanded the boats.
Jack, with the greatest politeness, took off his hat, and told him that it was the Rebiera letter of marque, and that the papers were ready for his inspection.
And the other vessels?
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