Wednesday, November 03, 2004


The eastern sky turns gray, then pink. A swelling spark breaks the curve of the horizon, casting shadows across the deck. Salt water sluices away the last of yesterday's blood. The ship that met the night under tattered sails and trailing ropes meets the dawn crowned with fresh white canvas and taut rigging humming with the freshening breeze. Tired, dirty men snatch biscuits and water as the broken shape to leeward grows clearer in the light.

Five bells strike in the morning watch.

"Gunner, double shot the larboard great guns and load the carronades with grape. At the word the starboard watch will board amidships, the larboard watch will house their guns and stand by to support."

"Master, lay us alongside the enemy at pistol shot."

The last movement in the day long dance is a gentle curve following the wind down toward the shattered wreck. Across the narrowing gap men are seen to stir beneath a tattered ensign lashed to a spar above the enemy's quarterdeck.

"Number one gun, put a round across her bows and let us see what what they decide. Men, if they do not strike we will give them three rounds brisk and BOARD THEM IN THE SMOKE!"

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