The moment the wet dripping rope slipped through Matthew's fingers, he wished, despite all the punishments he knew awaited him back on HMS Rose , he could have it back. But already the gap was growing between their dangerously tipping longboat and the ship's heaving flanks. As he stared, faint starlight and brighter white phosphorescence reflected on her sloping wooden flanks, the lower timbers embossed with a thin covering of slimy green moss and freckled with tiny barnacles. Longingly he watched the butter-yellow glow of the open gunport, through which they had made their escape, slip past. He kept expecting to see a face poke out, spot them, raise the alarm—and he found himself almost wishing it would happen, that they would be recaptured, and taken back on board, rather than drift away into the night.