Read The Guns of Tortuga Online

Authors: Brad Strickland,Thomas E. Fuller

The Guns of Tortuga (17 page)

“Perhaps it just takes a younger eye, Mr. Jeffers,” I said in my most innocent voice—which never seemed to fool anyone for some reason. Mr. Jeffers turned and raised one ragged eyebrow in my direction. “And, of course, a bit of height.” I let my own eyes drift upward. Mr. Jeffers's gaze followed my gaze, and a broad grin spread across his scarred face.

“Aye, Davy, lad! Up ye go and send us back true word! That fool Tate would be sighting London Bridge if he thought he could!”

Quick as thought, I was out of my shoes and scurrying up the mainmast shrouds, my toes clutching the ratlines as I climbed. I heard a distant bellow that could have been Uncle Patch—or a bear amazed to find itself at sea. As long as I didn't look down, I could honestly say I couldn't tell which. So I climbed on and the gun deck of the
fell away beneath me.

The higher I rose, the stronger the breezes driving our ship forward became. After the humid listlessness of the past weeks, it felt like a swim in a cold river. I found myself climbing faster and faster until at least I reached Abel Tate in his lofty perch atop the great central mainmast.

“What's the news, Mr. Tate?” I gasped out, drawing the cool air into my laboring lungs. “Mr. Jeffers has sent me up to find out what's what.”

“Figured it wasn't the cap'n,” he grumbled back. “Cap'n Hunter's got two good eyes in his head. Bartholomew Jeffers couldn't see the end of his own nose with a spyglass!” He turned and grinned at me. “Course, a good glass might help someone else to use the good sight God gave them.”

With that, he slapped his own glass into my hands and pointed carefully off to starboard. “There lies a bark, Davy, where the sea meets sky, or I'm a Barbary ape, I am!”

Quickly I extended the glass and scanned the horizon where his finger pointed, straight off the starboard bow. It took a second or two for my eye to adjust and a few after that to find her, but there she was, on the far horizon and low in the water. Too low.

“No wonder Mr. Jeffers couldn't see her,” I cried. “All her masts are down!”

“Aye, 'twas only pure luck that I spied her in the first place! Not a stump above her railings. Could have been a reef for all she showed!”

“Could she have wrecked in a storm, Mr. Tate?”

“If storm it was, she had it all to herself, she did! Not a hint of wind did we have until this morning! You tell the cap'n it weren't no storm that stripped her. He has the word of Abel Tate on that!”

I started to fly back down the lines, as fast as I could move hands and feet. If no storm had dismasted that lonely hulk on the horizon than only one other thing could have:


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Battle on the High Seas!


undercover, searching for the real pirate king, Jack Steele. Young Davy Shea is a full member of the crew now, helping his uncle in the ship's surgery whenever casualties arrive. And there are many casualties. Captain Hunter has become obsessed in his search for Steele because the pirate has taken to plundering ships and small, isolated towns in a devastating manner … and leaving behind a calling card indicating it is the work of Captain Hunter! Now the crew of the
will have to make allies from enemies and beard the pirate in his den, for the deadly
Red Queen
has put into port and Hunter will let nothing stop this final showdown.

Heart of Steele

By Brad Strickland and Thomas E. Fuller

July 2003


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