Excerpt:- At ten of the forenoon the Frenchman lay plain on the sea, with colours flying, musketeers in her tops, and her bulwarks black with the heads of her men. A big frigate she was, of the graceful shape which the British were all too slow to copy in their dockyards; and the cocks in her hencoops might well have swelled their throats with derisive screams when they beheld the English sparrow sailing down to grapple with the hawk.
The first shot fired came from the frigate when she was still out of reach of the Cleopatra's guns. Cuthbert saw the glance of yellow flame and the smother of white smoke; the ball whirled up a little pillar of froth out of the sea close alongside, and then came the report, dulling its sting against the wind's teeth.
"My lads," exclaimed Sir Peter Grahame, standing at the quarter-deck capstan with his hat in his hand, "yonder ship is the Chierriere. None of the enemy's ships has done more damage to our peaceful merchantmen than she. She is a big nut to crack, but our heels are shod with British iron, and we'll grind the kernel out of her yet. Hold on all till you get your orders, then make one man of yourselves. Now God be with us."
Author: William Clark Russell
Title: Auld Lang Syne
First Published by: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington
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