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win great fame and Heaven's glory."
The crew looked at the waves running hill high, and the water-logged
Spaniard labouring in the trough of them as she came round slowly in a
wide circle, very doubtfully, as well they might, and made no answer.
Then Peter spoke again.
"There is no choice," he said. "If we give that ship our stem we can
sink her, but then how will the women be saved? If we leave her alone,
mayhap she will founder, and then how will the women be saved? Or she
may win ashore, and they will be carried away to Granada, and how can we
snatch them out of the hand of the Moors or of the power of Spain? But
if we can take the ship, we may rescue them before they go down or reach
land. Will none back me at this inch?"
"Aye, son," said old Castell, "I will."
Peter stared at him in surprise. "You--at your years!" he said.
"Yes, at my years. Why not? I have the fewer to risk."
Then, as though he were ashamed of his doubts, one brawny sailorman
stepped forward and said that he was ready for a cut at the Spanish
thieves in foul weather as in fair. Next all Castell's household
servants came out in a body for love of him and Peter and their lady,
and after them more sailors, till nearly half of those aboard, something
over twenty in all, declared that they were ready for the venture,
wherein Peter cried, "Enough." Smith would have come also; but Castell
said No, he must stop with the ship.
Then, while the carack's head was laid so as to cut the path of the _San
Antonio_ circling round them slowly like a wounded swan, and the
boarders made ready their swords and knives, for here archery would not
avail them, Castell gave some orders to the captain. He bade him, if
they were cut down or taken, to put about and run for Seville, and there
deliver over the ship and her cargo to his partners and correspondents,
praying them in his name to do their best by means of gold, for which
the sale value of the vessel and her goods should be chargeable, or
otherwise, to procure the release of Margaret and Betty, if they still
lived, and to bring d'Aguilar, the Marquis of Morella, to account for
his crime. This done, he called to one of his servants to buckle on him
a light steel breastplate from the ship's stores. But Peter would wear
no iron because it was too heavy, only an archer's jerkin of bull-hide,
stout enough to turn a sword-cut, such as the other boarders put on also
with steel caps, of both of which they had a plenty in the cabin.
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