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there upon the bar? They hung on, waiting for that leopard flag and
those bursting sails to come down; but they never stirred; only straight
at them rushed the _Margaret_ like a bull. She was not two furlongs
away, and she held dead upon her course, till at last those galleys saw
_that she would not sink alone_. Like a bull with shut eyes she held
dead upon her furious course!
Confusion arose upon the Spanish ships, whistles were blown, men
shouted, overseers ran down the planks flogging the slaves, lifted oars
shone red in the light of the dying sun as they beat the water wildly.
The prows began to back and separate, five feet, ten feet, a dozen feet
perhaps; then straight into that tiny streak of open water, like a stone
from the hand of the slinger, like an arrow from a bow, rushed the
What happened? Go ask it of the fishers of San Lucar and the pirates of
Bonanza, where the tale has been told for generations. The great oars
snapped like reeds, the slaves were thrown in crushed and mangled heaps,
the tall deck of the port galley was ripped out of her like rent paper
by the stout yards of the stooping _Margaret_, the side of the starboard
galley rolled up like a shaving before a plane, and the _Margaret_
Smith, the captain, looked aft to where, ere they sank, the two great
ships, like wounded swans, rolled and fluttered on the foaming bar. Then
he put his helm about, called the carpenter, and asked what water
"None, Sir," he answered; "but she will want new tarring. It was oak
against eggshells, and we had the speed."
"Good!" said Smith, "shallows on either side; life or death, and I
thought I could make room. Send the mate to the helm. I'll have
Then the sun vanished beneath the roaring open sea, and, escaped from
all the power of Spain, the _Margaret_ turned her scarred and splintered
bow for Ushant and for England.
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