Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/407

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
361
THE SPEEDWELL PRIVATEER

tween privateering and piracy very thin, but in the morning it was discovered that the ship was Spanish and therefore a proper prize of war. She did not like the looks of the little bark and its wild crew, and edged away with all canvas set. Captain Shelvocke crowded the Recovery in chase of her, and when it fell calm, his men swung at the oars.

The audacious bark had no battery of guns, mind you, for they had been left behind in the wreck of the Speedwell. One small cannon had been hoisted aboard, but the men were unable to mount it, and were therefore obliged to let it lie on deck and fire it, jumping clear of the recoil and hitching it fast with hawsers to prevent it from hopping over the side. For ammunition they had two round shot, a few chain-bolts and bolt-heads, the clapper of the Speedwell's brass bell, and some bags of stones which had been gathered on the beach. It appeared that they would have to carry the big Spanish ship by boarding her, if they could fetch close enough alongside, though they were also in a very bad way for small arms. A third of the muskets lacked flints, and there were only three cutlasses in the crew.

Captain Shelvocke ignored these odds, and held on after the ship until a four-hour chase brought him within a few hundred feet of her, so near that