Books > Old Books > Mr Midshipman Hornblower (1950)


Page 162

CHAPTER SEVEN - THE SPANISH GALLEYS

of the cutter, still with men clinging to it who had survive the long passage under the whole length of the galley whic had overrun them. There were straining faces, empurple faces, faces already relaxing in death. But in a moment it was past and gone, and Hornblower felt the jerk transmitte through the line to the jolly boat as the galley leaped for ward.
`I can't hold her!' shouted Jackson.
`Take a turn round the cleat, you fool !'
The galley was towing the jolly boat now, dragging her along at the end of a twenty-foot line close on her quarter, just clear of the arc of her rudder. The white water bubbled all around her, her bows were cocked up with the strain. It was a mad moment, as though they had harpooned a whale. Some one came running aft on the Spaniard's poop, knife in hand to cut the line.
`Shoot him, Jackson!' shrieked Hornblower again.
Jackson's pistol cracked, and the Spaniard fell to the deck out of sight - a good shot. Despite his fighting madness, despite the turmoil of rushing water and glaring sun, Hornblower tried to think out his next move. Inclination and common sense alike told him that the best plan was to close with the enemy despite the odds.
`Pull up to them, there!' he shouted - everyone in the boat was shouting and yelling. The men in the bows of the jolly boat faced forward and took the grapnel line and began to haul in on it, but the speed of the boat through the water made any progress difficult, and after a yard or so had been gained the difficulty became insurmountable, for the grapnel was caught in the poop rail ten or eleven feet above water, and the angle of pull became progressively steeper as the jolly boat neared the stern of the galley. The boat's bow cocked higher out of the water than ever.
`Belay!' said Hornblower, and then, his voice rising again, `Out pistols, lads !'
A row of four or five swarthy faces had appeared at the

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