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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.
ships.  By this time both fleets began to mingle, and our admiral ordered his flag to be hoisted.  At that instant the other fleet, which were French, hoisted their ensigns, and gave us a broadside as they passed by.  Nothing could create greater surprise and confusion among us than this:  the wind was high, the sea rough, and we had our lower and middle deck guns housed in, so that not a single gun on board was ready to be fired at any of the French ships.  However, the Royal William and the Somerset being our sternmost ships, became a little prepared, and each gave the French ships a broadside as they passed by.  I afterwards heard this was a French squadron, commanded by Mons. Conflans; and certainly had the Frenchmen known our condition, and had a mind to fight us, they might have done us great mischief.  But we were not long before we were prepared for an engagement.  Immediately many things were tossed overboard; the ships were made ready for fighting as soon as possible; and about ten at night we had bent a new main sail, the old one being split.  Being now in readiness for fighting, we wore ship, and stood after the French fleet, who were one or two ships in number more than we.  However we gave them chase, and continued pursuing them all night; and at daylight we saw six of them, all large ships of the line, and an English East Indiaman, a prize they had taken.  We chased them all day till between three and four o’clock in the evening, when we came up with, and passed within a musquet shot of, one seventy-four gun ship, and the Indiaman also, who now hoisted her colours, but immediately hauled them down again.  On this we made a signal for the other ships to take possession of her; and, supposing the man of war would likewise strike, we cheered, but she did not; though if we had fired into her, from being so near, we must have taken her.  To my utter surprise the Somerset, who was the next ship astern of the Namur, made way likewise; and, thinking they were sure of this French ship, they cheered in the same manner, but still continued to follow us.  The French Commodore was about a gun-shot ahead of all, running from us with all speed; and about four o’clock he carried his foretopmast overboard.  This caused another loud cheer with us; and a little after the topmast came close by us; but, to our great surprise, instead of coming up with her, we found she went as fast as ever, if not faster.  The sea grew now much smoother; and the wind lulling, the seventy-four gun ship we had passed came again by us in the very same direction, and so near, that we heard her people talk as she went by; yet not a shot was fired on either side; and about five or six o’clock, just as it grew dark, she joined her commodore.  We chased all night; but the next day they were out of sight, so that we saw no more of them; and we only had the old Indiaman (called Carnarvon I think) for our trouble.  After this we stood in for the channel, and soon made the land; and, about the close of the
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