48 Hours a Day
Chapter 149 - Limits and Doubts
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Two pirates were working together at the gunwale. One of them tossed a wood plank with a rope around it into the sea while the other counted the time. Once the time was up, the pirate stopped the rope and calculated the length of rope that was being released into the sea.
“Current speed is 10 knots!”
Most ships from western countries in the 18th century used this method to calculate their speed. Of course, it was not 100% accurate because the sea itself was fluid and was constantly flowing all the time. However, it was more than adequate. A more precise method to calculate speed wouldn’t invented until the 20th century.
Zhang Heng stood on the deck in a black shirt, guiding his pirates in adjusting the mainsail according to the wind’s direction. The Jackdaw had just raised the sails on her mainmast and secondary mast. This allowed them to steam ahead at full speed. However, pushingthe vessel to her limits also caused the masts to be under a lot of pressure. Knowing that they were at breaking point, Zhang Heng instantly instructed the pirates to pull back the ropes and tie them at the stern. As for Zhang Heng, he acted as the helmsman to ensure that the draft was perfectly adjusted.
After a short moment of creaks and violent vibrations, the ship finally adapted to its current speed. Once everything had smoothened out, Zhang Heng passed the ship’s wheel back to the original helmsman. He then instructed the watcher to continue to observe the draft.
Carina was standing at the side and silently observed every move of Zhang Heng. Of course, her mind was in a raging storm as opposed to her calm looks. When she was in Nassau, she had went around asking about Zhang Heng. She got to know that he was initially a passenger on a merchant ship. After that, his masterful marksmanship earned him a place as one of the Sea Lion’s pirates. They told her that Zhang Heng was not used to living out at sea, suffering severe seasickness on the way back to Nassau. It was during that time that he almost lost his life.
In a year, Zhang Heng worked his way from an ordinary pirate to the boatswain of the Sea Lion. Not too long after that, he led a group of old pirates to leave the Queen Anne’s Revenge. By the time he arrived in Nassau, he was already the captain of a battleship with a large pirate crew under his watch. The swift intensity of his growth cast doubt upon the islanders on whether he had enough experience or wisdom to lead a ship full of pirates.
Before all these, Carina thought the same as well. However, her opinion of him completely changed after the two of them exchanged words. The man standing before her was completely different from the pirates that she had encountered before. He wasn’t supposed to possess such a high level of charm and maturity at this age. This was what she thought about him anyway. That said, it did not mean others would feel the same way.
She finally got to see how Zhang Heng led his people now that she was aboard his ship. His behavior did not make him look like a new captain at all. When he was greeted with various challenges, he would somehow look for a way to solve them one by one. After spending a few days with Zhang Heng on the ship, Carina was no longer as surprised as she was, knowing that it would be hard for a man with such discipline not to succeed.
Carina used to see Zhang Heng sparring with Anne before the sun came up. She also noticed that he would always seek guidance from a more experienced crewman on the ship. Whenever he had the time, he would head to the captain’s quarters and go through a bunch of books left by the ship’s previous owner. Before this, the Jackdaw was a corvette, and there were tons of books about warfare lying in the study. Between these books were also manuscripts holding a wealth of descriptions about different places of the world.
He looked at this world with a view from the future, and that helped him to accept that he was not actually in the real world. Though there were still heaps of things that he could not understand, reading those books would definitely help him to blend into this era better. To him, it was fun to learn about foreign cultures and exciting events that happened during this time in history.
On the other hand, Zhang Heng had re-evaluated Carina as well. He found out that she was more decisive than he’d initially expected. He realized why she changed her mind and chose to deliver the news to him personally. She simply wanted to ensure that nothing would go wrong. It also showed that she was serious about this deal. Though black market merchants were a part of Nassau, they lived very different from the pirates. Most of them had families and thrived among the upper society. Their job was simply to buy, sell, deliver and they typically did not participate in raids.
This was to ensure that they could easily cut off all ties with the pirates if things went south. Undoubtedly, it was unwise for Carina to get aboard a pirate ship. Now, that her fate was tied with Zhang Heng, even he had to admit that she had gone all out to win his trust. Carina was born to be a risk-taker. Maybe she would be able to outplay the black market alliance and carve her own path. This, however, wasn’t the time for her to think about something that was so far ahead. When she saw there was nothing on the sea apart from the Jackdaw, she started to grow more and more anxious.
This was the 32nd day that the Jackdaw left Nassau’s harbor. Half the ship’s food and water supply had already been consumed, and there were only some vegetables and dried fruits left. This was Zhang Heng’s first time setting out to sea, and it was impossible for him to anticipate every possibility that might happen. The humidity from the sea had caused the vegetables and fruits to go moldy. Left with no other food, everyone on the ship had to go back to eating dried, smoked fish. Still, that would only last about 20 days. In other words, Zhang Heng had to turn his ship back to Nassau soon, or his crew would starve.
Zhang Heng was frustrated, but there was nothing he could do. He had tried his best to have a backup plan for everything, but still faced all sorts of unexpected events. Even the best captain of the Caribbean could not guarantee that he would be able to return with a ship filled with loot every time. No matter what, Zhang Heng needed to win this war.
As time passed, Zhang Heng could feel the changes in everyone’s emotions. Not only was it evident among the new recruits, but old pirates like Billy and Dufresne also started to lose hope as well. Carine was no exception. Last night, she knocked at the door of the captain’s quarters, telling Zhang Heng that she suspected that everyone from the colony might know about her father getting into jail. There was a possibility that her friend from the customs had betrayed her. The ship that carried nutmeg could be nothing more than a high tale made up by them. In the worst-case scenario, this could even be a trap set by the navy.
“I’ve thought about it over and over again. It’s impossible that our target would have sailed all the way to the New World. There’s something fishy going on here. I remember my father telling me that he has two enemies from Boston,” said Carina in a nervous manner.
“Now, if this is a trap, why would they make up something that is so ridiculous then?”
Zhang Heng proceeded to the galley and poured Carina a glass of rum.