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Author: Stockton, Frank Richard, 1834-1902
Title: Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts
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BUCCANEERS AND PIRATES OF OUR COASTS

by

FRANK R. STOCKTON

Illustrated







[Illustration: "The pirates climbed up the sides of the man-of-war as if
they had been twenty-nine cats."--Frontispiece.]


[Illustration]




Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers
New York
by arrangement with The Macmillan Company
Copyright, 1897-1898,
By the Century Co.
Copyright, 1898, 1926,
By the MacMillan Company.
All rights reserved--no part of this book
may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the publisher,
except by a reviewer who wishes to quote
brief passages in connection with a review
written for inclusion in magazine or
newspaper.
Set up and electrotyped July, 1898. Reprinted November,
1898; September, 1905; May, 1906; April, October, 1908;
October, 1910; March, 1913; September, 1914; January,
1915; October, 1917.
Printed in the United States of America




FOREWORD


Tempting boys to be what they should be--giving them in wholesome form
what they want--that is the purpose and power of Scouting. To help
parents and leaders of youth secure _books boys like best_ that are also
best for boys, the Boy Scouts of America organized EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY.
The books included, formerly sold at prices ranging from $1.50 to $2.00
but, by special arrangement with the several publishers interested, are
now sold in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition at $1.00 per volume.

The books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY were selected by the Library Commission
of the Boy Scouts of America, consisting of George F. Bowerman,
Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia; Harrison W.
Craver, Director, Engineering Societies Library, New York City; Claude
G. Leland, Superintendent, Bureau of Libraries, Board of Education, New
York City; Edward F. Stevens, Librarian, Pratt Institute Free Library,
Brooklyn, N.Y., and Franklin K. Mathiews, Chief Scout Librarian. Only
such books were chosen by the Commission as proved to be, by _a nation
wide canvas_, most in demand by the boys themselves. Their popularity is
further attested by the fact that in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition,
more than a million and a quarter copies of these books have already
been sold.

We know so well, are reminded so often of the worth of the good book and
great, that too often we fail to observe or understand the influence for
good of a boy's recreational reading. Such books may influence him for
good or ill as profoundly as his play activities, of which they are a
vital part. The needful thing is to find stories in which the heroes
have the characteristics boys so much admire--unquenchable courage,
immense resourcefulness, absolute fidelity, conspicuous greatness. We
believe the books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY measurably well meet this
challenge.

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA,

        [signed] James E. West

        Chief Scout Executive.




Contents


Chapter                                                  Page

I.      The Bold Buccaneers                                 1

II.     Some Masters in Piracy                              7

III.    Pupils in Piracy                                   16

IV.     Peter the Great                                    23

V.      The Story of a Pearl Pirate                        31

VI.     The Surprising Adventures of Bartholemy Portuguez  39

VII.    The Pirate who could not Swim                      49

VIII.   How Bartholemy rested Himself                      59

IX.     A Pirate Author                                    65

X.      The Story of Roc, the Brazilian                    72

XI.     A Buccaneer Boom                                   89

XII.    The Story of L'Olonnois the Cruel                  94

XIII.   A Resurrected Pirate                              100

XIV.    Villany on a Grand Scale                          109

XV.     A Just Reward                                     119

XVI.    A Pirate Potentate                                132

XVII.   How Morgan was helped by Some Religious People    145

XVIII.  A Piratical Aftermath                             153

XIX.    A Tight Place for Morgan                          159

XX.     The Story of a High-Minded Pirate                 171

XXI.    Exit Buccaneer; Enter Pirate                      192

XXII.   The Great Blackbeard comes upon the Stage         200

XXIII.  A True-Hearted Sailor draws his Sword             210

XXIV.   A Greenhorn under the Black Flag                  217

XXV.    Bonnet again to the Front                         224

XXVI.   The Battle of the Sand Bars                       233

XXVII.  A Six Weeks' Pirate                               243

XXVIII. The Story of Two Women Pirates                    253

XXIX.   A Pirate from Boyhood                             263

XXX.    A Pirate of the Gulf                              277

XXXI.   The Pirate of the Buried Treasure                 291

XXXII.  The Real Captain Kidd                             309


[Illustration: The Haunts of "The Brethren of the Coast"]




Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts




Chapter I

The Bold Buccaneers


When I was a boy I strongly desired to be a pirate, and the reason for
this was the absolute independence of that sort of life. Restrictions of
all sorts had become onerous to me, and in my reading of the adventures
of the bold sea-rovers of the main, I had unconsciously selected those
portions of a pirate's life which were attractive to me, and had totally
disregarded all the rest.

In fact, I had a great desire to become what might be called a marine
Robin Hood. I would take from the rich and give to the poor; I would run
my long, low, black craft by the side of the merchantman, and when I had
loaded my vessel with the rich stuffs and golden ingots which composed
her cargo, I would sail away to some poor village, and make its
inhabitants prosperous and happy for the rest of their lives by a
judicious distribution of my booty.

I would always be as free as a sea-bird. My men would be devoted to me,
and my word would be their law. I would decide for myself whether this
or that proceeding would be proper, generous, and worthy of my unlimited
power; when tired of sailing, I would retire to my island,--the position
of which, in a beautiful semi-tropic ocean, would be known only to
myself and to my crew,--and there I would pass happy days in the company
of my books, my works of art, and all the various treasures I had taken
from the mercenary vessels which I had overhauled.

Such was my notion of a pirate's life. I would kill nobody; the very
sight of my black flag would be sufficient to put an end to all thought
of resistance on the part of my victims, who would no more think of
fighting me, than a fat bishop would have thought of lifting his hand
against Robin Hood and his merry men; and I truly believe that I
expected my conscience to have a great deal more to do in the way of
approval of my actions, than it had found necessary in the course of my
ordinary school-boy life.

I mention these early impressions because I have a notion that a great
many people--and not only young people--have an idea of piracy not
altogether different from that of my boyhood. They know that pirates
are wicked men, that, in fact, they are sea-robbers or maritime
murderers, but their bold and adventurous method of life, their bravery,
daring, and the exciting character of their expeditions, give them
something of the same charm and interest which belong to the robber
knights of the middle ages. The one mounts his mailed steed and clanks
his long sword against his iron stirrup, riding forth into the world
with a feeling that he can do anything that pleases him, if he finds
himself strong enough. The other springs into his rakish craft, spreads
his sails to the wind, and dashes over the sparkling main with a feeling
that he can do anything he pleases, provided he be strong enough.

The first pirates who made themselves known in American waters were the
famous buccaneers; these began their career in a very commonplace and
unobjectionable manner, and the name by which they were known had
originally no piratical significance. It was derived from the French
word _boucanier_, signifying "a drier of beef."

Some of the West India islands, especially San Domingo, were almost
overrun with wild cattle of various kinds, and this was owing to the
fact that the Spaniards had killed off nearly all the natives, and so
had left the interior of the islands to the herds of cattle which had
increased rapidly. There were a few settlements on the seacoast, but
the Spaniards did not allow the inhabitants of these to trade with any
nation but their own, and consequently the people were badly supplied
with the necessaries of life.

But the trading vessels which sailed from Europe to that part of the
Caribbean Sea were manned by bold and daring sailors, and when they knew
that San Domingo contained an abundance of beef cattle, they did not
hesitate to stop at the little seaports to replenish their stores. The
natives of the island were skilled in the art of preparing beef by
smoking and drying it,--very much in the same way in which our Indians
prepare "jerked meat" for winter use.

But so many vessels came to San Domingo for beef that there were not
enough people on the island to do all the hunting and drying that was
necessary, so these trading vessels frequently anchored in some quiet
cove, and the crews went on shore and devoted themselves to securing a
cargo of beef,--not only enough for their own use, but for trading
purposes; thus they became known as "beef-driers," or buccaneers.

When the Spaniards heard of this new industry which had arisen within
the limits of their possessions, they pursued the vessels of the
buccaneers wherever they were seen, and relentlessly destroyed them and
their crews. But there were not enough Spanish vessels to put down the
trade in dried beef; more European vessels--generally English and
French--stopped at San Domingo; more bands of hunting sailors made their
way into the interior. When these daring fellows knew that the Spaniards
were determined to break up their trade, they became more determined
that it should not be broken up, and they armed themselves and their
vessels so that they might be able to make a defence against the Spanish
men-of-war.

Thus gradually and almost imperceptibly a state of maritime warfare grew
up in the waters of the West Indies between Spain and the beef-traders
of other nations; and from being obliged to fight, the buccaneers became
glad to fight, provided that it was Spain they fought. True to her
policy of despotism and cruelty when dealing with her American
possessions, Spain waged a bitter and bloody war against the buccaneers
who dared to interfere with the commercial relations between herself and
her West India colonies, and in return, the buccaneers were just as
bitter and savage in their warfare against Spain. From defending
themselves against Spanish attacks, they began to attack Spaniards
whenever there was any chance of success, at first only upon the sea,
but afterwards on land. The cruelty and ferocity of Spanish rule had
brought them into existence, and it was against Spain and her
possessions that the cruelty and ferocity which she had taught them were
now directed.

When the buccaneers had begun to understand each other and to effect
organizations among themselves, they adopted a general name,--"The
Brethren of the Coast." The outside world, especially the Spanish world,
called them pirates, sea-robbers, buccaneers,--any title which would
express their lawless character, but in their own denomination of
themselves they expressed only their fraternal relations; and for the
greater part of their career, they truly stood by each other like
brothers.




Chapter II

Some Masters in Piracy


From the very earliest days of history there have been pirates, and it
is, therefore, not at all remarkable that, in the early days of the
history of this continent, sea-robbers should have made themselves
prominent; but the buccaneers of America differed in many ways from
those pirates with whom the history of the old world has made us
acquainted.

It was very seldom that an armed vessel set out from an European port
for the express purpose of sea-robbery in American waters. At first
nearly all the noted buccaneers were traders. But the circumstances
which surrounded them in the new world made of them pirates whose evil
deeds have never been surpassed in any part of the globe.

These unusual circumstances and amazing temptations do not furnish an
excuse for the exceptionally wicked careers of the early American
pirates; but we are bound to remember these causes or we could not
understand the records of the settlement of the West Indies. The
buccaneers were fierce and reckless fellows who pursued their daring
occupation because it was profitable, because they had learned to like
it, and because it enabled them to wreak a certain amount of vengeance
upon the common enemy. But we must not assume that they inaugurated the
piratical conquests and warfare which existed so long upon our eastern
seacoasts.

Before the buccaneers began their careers, there had been great masters
of piracy who had opened their schools in the Caribbean Sea; and in
order that the condition of affairs in this country during parts of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be clearly understood, we will
consider some of the very earliest noted pirates of the West Indies.

When we begin a judicial inquiry into the condition of our
fellow-beings, we should try to be as courteous as we can, but we must
be just; consequently a man's fame and position must not turn us aside,
when we are acting as historical investigators.

Therefore, we shall be bold and speak the truth, and although we shall
take off our hats and bow very respectfully, we must still assert that
Christopher Columbus was the first who practised piracy in American
waters.

When he sailed with his three little ships to discover unknown lands, he
was an accredited explorer for the court of Spain, and was bravely
sailing forth with an honest purpose, and with the same regard for law
and justice as is possessed by any explorer of the present day. But when
he discovered some unknown lands, rich in treasure and outside of all
legal restrictions, the views and ideas of the great discoverer
gradually changed. Being now beyond the boundaries of civilization, he
also placed himself beyond the boundaries of civilized law. Robbery,
murder, and the destruction of property, by the commanders of naval
expeditions, who have no warrant or commission for their conduct, is the
same as piracy, and when Columbus ceased to be a legalized explorer, and
when, against the expressed wishes, and even the prohibitions, of the
royal personages who had sent him out on this expedition, he began to
devastate the countries he had discovered, and to enslave and
exterminate their peaceable natives, then he became a master in piracy,
from whom the buccaneers afterward learned many a valuable lesson.

It is not necessary for us to enter very deeply into the consideration
of the policy of Columbus toward the people of the islands of the West
Indies. His second voyage was nothing more than an expedition for the
sake of plunder. He had discovered gold and other riches in the West
Indies and he had found that the people who inhabited the islands were
simple-hearted, inoffensive creatures, who did not know how to fight and
who did not want to fight. Therefore, it was so easy to sail his ships
into the harbors of defenceless islands, to subjugate the natives, and
to take away the products of their mines and soil, that he commenced a
veritable course of piracy.

The acquisition of gold and all sorts of plunder seemed to be the sole
object of this Spanish expedition; natives were enslaved, and subjected
to the greatest hardships, so that they died in great numbers. At one
time three hundred of them were sent as slaves to Spain. A pack of
bloodhounds, which Columbus had brought with him for the purpose, was
used to hunt down the poor Indians when they endeavored to escape from
the hands of the oppressors, and in every way the island of Hayti, the
principal scene of the actions of Columbus, was treated as if its
inhabitants had committed a dreadful crime by being in possession of the
wealth which the Spaniards desired for themselves.

Queen Isabella was greatly opposed to these cruel and unjust
proceedings. She sent back to their native land the slaves which
Columbus had shipped to Spain, and she gave positive orders that no more
of the inhabitants were to be enslaved, and that they were all to be
treated with moderation and kindness. But the Atlantic is a wide ocean,
and Columbus, far away from his royal patron, paid little attention to
her wishes and commands; without going further into the history of this
period, we will simply mention the fact that it was on account of his
alleged atrocities that Columbus was superseded in his command, and sent
back in chains to Spain.

There was another noted personage of the sixteenth century who played
the part of pirate in the new world, and thereby set a most shining
example to the buccaneers of those regions. This was no other than Sir
Francis Drake, one of England's greatest naval commanders.

It is probable that Drake, when he started out in life, was a man of
very law-abiding and orderly disposition, for he was appointed by Queen
Elizabeth a naval chaplain, and, it is said, though there is some doubt
about this, that he was subsequently vicar of a parish. But by nature he
was a sailor, and nothing else, and after having made several voyages in
which he showed himself a good fighter, as well as a good commander, he
undertook, in 1572, an expedition against the Spanish settlements in the
West Indies, for which he had no legal warrant whatever.

Spain was not at war with England, and when Drake sailed with four small
ships into the port of the little town of Nombre de Dios in the middle
of the night, the inhabitants of the town were as much astonished as the
people of Perth Amboy would be if four armed vessels were to steam into
Raritan Bay, and endeavor to take possession of the town. The peaceful
Spanish townspeople were not at war with any civilized nation, and they
could not understand why bands of armed men should invade their streets,
enter the market-place, fire their calivers, or muskets, into the air,
and then sound a trumpet loud enough to wake up everybody in the place.
Just outside of the town the invaders had left a portion of their men,
and when these heard the trumpet in the market-place, they also fired
their guns; all this noise and hubbub so frightened the good people of
the town, that many of them jumped from their beds, and without stopping
to dress, fled away to the mountains. But all the citizens were not such
cowards, and fourteen or fifteen of them armed themselves and went out
to defend their town from the unknown invaders.

Beginners in any trade or profession, whether it be the playing of the
piano, the painting of pictures, or the pursuit of piracy, are often
timid and distrustful of themselves; so it happened on this occasion
with Francis Drake and his men, who were merely amateur pirates, and
showed very plainly that they did not yet understand their business.

When the fifteen Spanish citizens came into the market-place and found
there the little body of armed Englishmen, they immediately fired upon
them, not knowing or caring who they were. This brave resistance seems
to have frightened Drake and his men almost as much as their trumpets
and guns had frightened the citizens, and the English immediately
retreated from the town. When they reached the place where they had left
the rest of their party, they found that these had already run away, and
taken to the boats. Consequently Drake and his brave men were obliged to
take off some of their clothes and to wade out to the little ships. The
Englishmen secured no booty whatever, and killed only one Spaniard, who
was a man who had been looking out of a window to see what was the
matter.

Whether or not Drake's conscience had anything to do with the bungling
manner in which he made this first attempt at piracy, we cannot say, but
he soon gave his conscience a holiday, and undertook some very
successful robbing enterprises. He received information from some
natives, that a train of mules was coming across the Isthmus of Panama
loaded with gold and silver bullion, and guarded only by their drivers;
for the merchants who owned all this treasure had no idea that there was
any one in that part of the world who would commit a robbery upon them.
But Drake and his men soon proved that they could hold up a train of
mules as easily as some of the masked robbers in our western country
hold up a train of cars. All the gold was taken, but the silver was too
heavy for the amateur pirates to carry.

Two days after that, Drake and his men came to a place called "The House
of Crosses," where they killed five or six peaceable merchants, but were
greatly disappointed to find no gold, although the house was full of
rich merchandise of various kinds. As his men had no means of carrying
away heavy goods, he burned up the house and all its contents and went
to his ships, and sailed away with the treasure he had already obtained.

Whatever this gallant ex-chaplain now thought of himself, he was
considered by the Spaniards as an out-and-out pirate, and in this
opinion they were quite correct. During his great voyage around the
world, which he began in 1577, he came down upon the Spanish-American
settlements like a storm from the sea. He attacked towns, carried off
treasure, captured merchant-vessels,--and in fact showed himself to be a
thoroughbred and accomplished pirate of the first class.

It was in consequence of the rich plunder with which his ships were now
loaded, that he made his voyage around the world. He was afraid to go
back the way he came, for fear of capture, and so, having passed the
Straits of Magellan, and having failed to find a way out of the Pacific
in the neighborhood of California, he doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and
sailed along the western coast of Africa to European waters.

This grand piratical expedition excited great indignation in Spain,
which country was still at peace with England, and even in England there
were influential people who counselled the Queen that it would be wise
and prudent to disavow Drake's actions, and compel him to restore to
Spain the booty he had taken from his subjects. But Queen Elizabeth was
not the woman to do that sort of thing. She liked brave men and brave
deeds, and she was proud of Drake. Therefore, instead of punishing him,
she honored him, and went to take dinner with him on board his ship,
which lay at Deptford.

So Columbus does not stand alone as a grand master of piracy. The famous
Sir Francis Drake, who became vice-admiral of the fleet which defeated
the Spanish Armada, was a worthy companion of the great Genoese.

These notable instances have been mentioned because it would be unjust
to take up the history of those resolute traders who sailed from
England, France, and Holland, to the distant waters of the western world
for the purpose of legitimate enterprise and commerce, and who
afterwards became thorough-going pirates, without trying to make it
clear that they had shining examples for their notable careers.




Chapter III

Pupils in Piracy


After the discoveries of Columbus, the Spanish mind seems to have been
filled with the idea that the whole undiscovered world, wherever it
might be, belonged to Spain, and that no other nation had any right
whatever to discover anything on the other side of the Atlantic, or to
make any use whatever of lands which had been discovered. In fact, the
natives of the new countries, and the inhabitants of all old countries
except her own, were considered by Spain as possessing no rights
whatever. If the natives refused to pay tribute, or to spend their days
toiling for gold for their masters, or if vessels from England or France
touched at one of their settlements for purposes of trade, it was all
the same to the Spaniards; a war of attempted extermination was waged
alike against the peaceful inhabitants of Hispaniola, now Hayti, and
upon the bearded and hardy seamen from Northern Europe. Under this
treatment the natives weakened and gradually disappeared; but the
buccaneers became more and more numerous and powerful.

The buccaneers were not unlike that class of men known in our western
country as cowboys. Young fellows of good families from England and
France often determined to embrace a life of adventure, and possibly
profit, and sailed out to the West Indies to get gold and hides, and to
fight Spaniards. Frequently they dropped their family names and assumed
others more suitable to roving freebooters, and, like the bold young
fellows who ride over our western plains, driving cattle and shooting
Indians, they adopted a style of dress as free and easy, but probably
not quite so picturesque, as that of the cowboy. They soon became a very
rough set of fellows, in appearance as well as action, endeavoring in
every way to let the people of the western world understand that they
were absolutely free and independent of the manners and customs, as well
as of the laws of their native countries.

So well was this independence understood, that when the buccaneers
became strong enough to inflict some serious injury upon the settlements
in the West Indies, and the Spanish court remonstrated with Queen
Elizabeth on account of what had been done by some of her subjects, she
replied that she had nothing to do with these buccaneers, who, although
they had been born in England, had ceased for the time to be her
subjects, and the Spaniards must defend themselves against them just as
if they were an independent nation.

But it is impossible for men who have been brought up in civilized
society, and who have been accustomed to obey laws, to rid themselves
entirely of all ideas of propriety and morality, as soon as they begin a
life of lawlessness. So it happened that many of the buccaneers could
not divest themselves of the notions of good behavior to which they had
been accustomed from youth. For instance, we are told of a captain of
buccaneers, who, landing at a settlement on a Sunday, took his crew to
church. As it is not at all probable that any of the buccaneering
vessels carried chaplains, opportunities of attending services must have
been rare. This captain seems to have wished to show that pirates in
church know what they ought to do just as well as other people; it was
for this reason that, when one of his men behaved himself in an improper
and disorderly manner during the service, this proper-minded captain
arose from his seat and shot the offender dead.

There was a Frenchman of that period who must have been a warm-hearted
philanthropist, because, having read accounts of the terrible atrocities
of the Spaniards in the western lands, he determined to leave his home
and his family, and become a buccaneer, in order that he might do what
he could for the suffering natives in the Spanish possessions. He
entered into the great work which he had planned for himself with such
enthusiasm and zeal, that in the course of time he came to be known as
"The Exterminator," and if there had been more people of his
philanthropic turn of mind, there would soon have been no inhabitants
whatever upon the islands from which the Spaniards had driven out the
Indians.

There was another person of that day,--also a Frenchman,--who became
deeply involved in debt in his own country, and feeling that the
principles of honor forbade him to live upon and enjoy what was really
the property of others, he made up his mind to sail across the Atlantic,
and become a buccaneer. He hoped that if he should be successful in his
new profession, and should be enabled to rob Spaniards for a term of
years, he could return to France, pay off all his debts, and afterward
live the life of a man of honor and respectability.

Other ideas which the buccaneers brought with them from their native
countries soon showed themselves when these daring sailors began their
lives as regular pirates; among these, the idea of organization was very
prominent. Of course it was hard to get a number of free and
untrammelled crews to unite and obey the commands of a few officers. But
in time the buccaneers had recognized leaders, and laws were made for
concerted action. In consequence of this the buccaneers became a
formidable body of men, sometimes superior to the Spanish naval and
military forces.

It must be remembered that the buccaneers lived in a very peculiar age.
So far as the history of America is concerned, it might be called the
age of blood and gold. In the newly discovered countries there were no
laws which European nations or individuals cared to observe. In the West
Indies and the adjacent mainlands there were gold and silver, and there
were also valuable products of other kinds, and when the Spaniards
sailed to their part of the new world, these treasures were the things
for which they came. The natives were weak and not able to defend
themselves. All the Spaniards had to do was to take what they could
find, and when they could not find enough they made the poor Indians
find it for them. Here was a part of the world, and an age of the world,
wherein it was the custom for men to do what they pleased, provided they
felt themselves strong enough, and it was not to be supposed that any
one European nation could expect a monopoly of this state of mind.

Therefore it was that while the Spaniards robbed and ruined the natives
of the lands they discovered, the English, French, and Dutch buccaneers
robbed the robbers. Great vessels were sent out from Spain, carrying
nothing in the way of merchandise to America, but returning with all the
precious metals and valuable products of the newly discovered regions,
which could in any way be taken from the unfortunate natives. The gold
mines of the new world had long been worked, and yielded handsome
revenues, but the native method of operating them did not satisfy the
Spaniards, who forced the poor Indians to labor incessantly at the
difficult task of digging out the precious metals, until many of them
died under the cruel oppression. Sometimes the Indians were kept six
months under ground, working in the mines; and at one time, when it was
found that the natives had died off, or had fled from the neighborhood
of some of the rich gold deposits, it was proposed to send to Africa and
get a cargo of negroes to work the mines.

Now it is easy to see that all this made buccaneering a very tempting
occupation. To capture a great treasure ship, after the Spaniards had
been at so much trouble to load it, was a grand thing, according to the
pirate's point of view, and although it often required reckless bravery
and almost superhuman energy to accomplish the feats necessary in this
dangerous vocation, these were qualities which were possessed by nearly
all the sea-robbers of our coast; the stories of some of the most
interesting of these wild and desperate fellows,--men who did not
combine piracy with discoveries and explorations, but who were
out-and-out sea-robbers, and gained in that way all the reputation they
ever possessed,--will be told in subsequent chapters.




Chapter IV

Peter the Great


Very prominent among the early regular buccaneers was a Frenchman who
came to be called Peter the Great. This man seems to have been one of
those adventurers who were not buccaneers in the earlier sense of the
word (by which I mean they were not traders who touched at Spanish
settlements to procure cattle and hides, and who were prepared to fight
any Spaniards who might interfere with them), but they were men who came
from Europe on purpose to prey upon Spanish possessions, whether on land
or sea. Some of them made a rough sort of settlement on the island of
Tortuga, and then it was that Peter the Great seems to have come into
prominence. He gathered about him a body of adherents, but although he
had a great reputation as an individual pirate, it seems to have been a
good while before he achieved any success as a leader.

The fortunes of Peter and his men must have been at a pretty low ebb
when they found themselves cruising in a large, canoe-shaped boat not
far from the island of Hispaniola. There were twenty-nine of them in
all, and they were not able to procure a vessel suitable for their
purpose. They had been a long time floating about in an aimless way,
hoping to see some Spanish merchant-vessel which they might attack and
possibly capture, but no such vessel appeared. Their provisions began to
give out, the men were hungry, discontented, and grumbling. In fact,
they were in almost as bad a condition as were the sailors of Columbus
just before they discovered signs of land, after their long and weary
voyage across the Atlantic.

When Peter and his men were almost on the point of despair, they
perceived, far away upon the still waters, a large ship. With a great
jump, hope sprang up in the breast of every man. They seized the oars
and pulled in the direction of the distant craft. But when they were
near enough, they saw that the vessel was not a merchantman, probably
piled with gold and treasure, but a man-of-war belonging to the Spanish
fleet. In fact, it was the vessel of the vice-admiral. This was an
astonishing and disheartening state of things. It was very much as if a
lion, hearing the approach of probable prey, had sprung from the thicket
where he had been concealed, and had beheld before him, not a fine, fat
deer, but an immense and scrawny elephant.

But the twenty-nine buccaneers in the crew were very hungry. They had
not come out upon those waters to attack men-of-war, but, more than
that, they had not come out to perish by hunger and thirst. There could
be no doubt that there was plenty to eat and to drink on that tall
Spanish vessel, and if they could not get food and water they could not
live more than a day or two longer.

Under the circumstances it was not long before Peter the Great made up
his mind that if his men would stand by him, he would endeavor to
capture that Spanish war-vessel; when he put the question to his crew
they all swore that they would follow him and obey his orders as long as
life was left in their bodies. To attack a vessel armed with cannon, and
manned by a crew very much larger than their little party, seemed almost
like throwing themselves upon certain death. But still, there was a
chance that in some way they might get the better of the Spaniards;
whereas, if they rowed away again into the solitudes of the ocean, they
would give up all chance of saving themselves from death by starvation.
Steadily, therefore, they pulled toward the Spanish vessel, and
slowly--for there was but little wind--she approached them.

The people in the man-of-war did not fail to perceive the little boat
far out on the ocean, and some of them sent to the captain and reported
the fact. The news, however, did not interest him, for he was engaged in
playing cards in his cabin, and it was not until an hour afterward that
he consented to come on deck and look out toward the boat which had been
sighted, and which was now much nearer.

Taking a good look at the boat, and perceiving that it was nothing more
than a canoe, the captain laughed at the advice of some of his officers,
who thought it would be well to fire a few cannon-shot and sink the
little craft. The captain thought it would be a useless proceeding. He
did not know anything about the people in the boat, and he did not very
much care, but he remarked that if they should come near enough, it
might be a good thing to put out some tackle and haul them and their
boat on deck, after which they might be examined and questioned whenever
it should suit his convenience. Then he went down to his cards.

If Peter the Great and his men could have been sure that if they were to
row alongside the Spanish vessel they would have been quietly hauled on
deck and examined, they would have been delighted at the opportunity.
With cutlasses, pistols, and knives, they were more than ready to
demonstrate to the Spaniards what sort of fellows they were, and the
captain would have found hungry pirates uncomfortable persons to
question.

But it seemed to Peter and his crew a very difficult thing indeed to get
themselves on board the man-of-war, so they curbed their ardor and
enthusiasm, and waited until nightfall before approaching nearer. As
soon as it became dark enough they slowly and quietly paddled toward the
great ship, which was now almost becalmed. There were no lights in the
boat, and the people on the deck of the vessel saw and heard nothing on
the dark waters around them.

When they were very near the man-of-war, the captain of the
buccaneers--according to the ancient accounts of this adventure--ordered
his chirurgeon, or surgeon, to bore a large hole in the bottom of their
canoe. It is probable that this officer, with his saws and other
surgical instruments, was expected to do carpenter work when there were
no duties for him to perform in the regular line of his profession. At
any rate, he went to work, and noiselessly bored the hole.

This remarkable proceeding showed the desperate character of these
pirates. A great, almost impossible task was before them, and nothing
but absolute recklessness could enable them to succeed. If his men
should meet with strong opposition from the Spaniards in the proposed
attack, and if any of them should become frightened and try to retreat
to the boat, Peter knew that all would be lost, and consequently he
determined to make it impossible for any man to get away in that boat.
If they could not conquer the Spanish vessel they must die on her decks.

When the half-sunken canoe touched the sides of the vessel, the pirates,
seizing every rope or projection on which they could lay their hands,
climbed up the sides of the man-of-war, as if they had been twenty-nine
cats, and springing over the rail, dashed upon the sailors who were on
deck. These men were utterly stupefied and astounded. They had seen
nothing, they had heard nothing, and all of a sudden they were
confronted with savage fellows with cutlasses and pistols.

Some of the crew looked over the sides to see where these strange
visitors had come from, but they saw nothing, for the canoe had gone to
the bottom. Then they were filled with a superstitious horror, believing
that the wild visitors were devils who had dropped from the sky, for
there seemed no other place from which they could come. Making no
attempt to defend themselves, the sailors, wild with terror, tumbled
below and hid themselves, without even giving an alarm.

The Spanish captain was still playing cards, and whether he was winning
or losing, the old historians do not tell us, but very suddenly a
newcomer took a hand in the game. This was Peter the Great, and he
played the ace of trumps. With a great pistol in his hand, he called
upon the Spanish captain to surrender. That noble commander glanced
around. There was a savage pirate holding a pistol at the head of each
of the officers at the table. He threw up his cards. The trick was won
by Peter and his men.

The rest of the game was easy enough. When the pirates spread themselves
over the vessel, the frightened crew got out of sight as well as they
could. Some, who attempted to seize their arms in order to defend
themselves, were ruthlessly cut down or shot, and when the hatches had
been securely fastened upon the sailors who had fled below, Peter the
Great was captain and owner of that tall Spanish man-of-war.

It is quite certain that the first thing these pirates did to celebrate
their victory was to eat a rousing good supper, and then they took
charge of the vessel, and sailed her triumphantly over the waters on
which, not many hours before, they had feared that a little boat would
soon be floating, filled with their emaciated bodies.

This most remarkable success of Peter the Great worked a great change,
of course, in the circumstances of himself and his men. But it worked a
greater change in the career, and possibly in the character of the
captain. He was now a very rich man, and all his followers had plenty of
money. The Spanish vessel was amply supplied with provisions, and there
was also on board a great quantity of gold bullion, which was to be
shipped to Spain. In fact, Peter and his men had booty enough to satisfy
any sensible pirate. Now we all know that sensible pirates, and people
in any sphere of life who are satisfied when they have enough, are very
rare indeed, and therefore it is not a little surprising that the bold
buccaneer, whose story we are now telling, should have proved that he
merited, in a certain way, the title his companions had given him.

Sailing his prize to the shores of Hispaniola, Peter put on shore all
the Spaniards whose services he did not desire. The rest of his
prisoners he compelled to help his men work the ship, and then, without
delay, he sailed away to France, and there he retired entirely from the
business of piracy, and set himself up as a gentleman of wealth and
leisure.




Chapter V

The Story of a Pearl Pirate


The ordinary story of the pirate, or the wicked man in general, no
matter how successful he may have been in his criminal career, nearly
always ends disastrously, and in that way points a moral which doubtless
has a good effect on a large class of people, who would be very glad to
do wrong, provided no harm was likely to come to them in consequence.
But the story of Peter the Great, which we have just told, contains no
such moral. In fact, its influence upon the adventurers of that period
was most unwholesome.

When the wonderful success of Peter the Great became known, the
buccaneering community at Tortuga was wildly excited. Every
bushy-bearded fellow who could get possession of a small boat, and
induce a score of other bushy-bearded fellows to follow him, wanted to
start out and capture a rich Spanish galleon, as the great ships, used
alike for war and commerce, were then called.

But not only were the French and English sailors and traders who had
become buccaneers excited and stimulated by the remarkable good fortune
of their companion, but many people of adventurous mind, who had never
thought of leaving England for purposes of piracy, now became firmly
convinced that there was no business which promised better than that of
a buccaneer, and some of them crossed the ocean for the express purpose
of getting rich by capturing Spanish vessels homeward bound.

As there were not enough suitable vessels in Tortuga for the demands of
the recently stimulated industry, the buccaneer settlers went to other
parts of the West Indies to obtain suitable craft, and it is related
that in about a month after the great victory of Peter the Great, two
large Spanish vessels, loaded with silver bullion, and two other heavily
laden merchantmen were brought into Tortuga by the buccaneers.

One of the adventurers who set out about this time on a cruise after
gold-laden vessels, was a Frenchman who was known to his countrymen as
Pierre Francois, and to the English as Peter Francis. He was a good
sailor, and ready for any sort of a sea-fight, but for a long time he
cruised about without seeing anything which it was worth while to
attempt to capture. At last, when his provisions began to give out, and
his men became somewhat discontented, Pierre made up his mind that
rather than return to Tortuga empty-handed, he would make a bold and
novel stroke for fortune.

At the mouth of one of the large rivers of the mainland the Spaniards
had established a pearl fishery,--for there was no kind of wealth or
treasure, on the land, under ground, or at the bottom of the sea, that
the Spaniards did not get if it were possible for them to do so.

Every year, at the proper season, a dozen or more vessels came to this
pearl-bank, attended by a man-of-war to protect them from molestation.
Pierre knew all about this, and as he could not find any Spanish
merchantmen to rob, he thought he would go down and see what he could do
with the pearl-fishers. This was something the buccaneers had not yet
attempted, but no one knows what he can do until he tries, and it was
very necessary that this buccaneer captain should try something
immediately.

When he reached the coast near the mouth of the river, he took the masts
out of his little vessel, and rowed quietly toward the pearl-fishing
fleet, as if he had intended to join them on some entirely peaceable
errand; and, in fact, there was no reason whatever why the Spaniards
should suppose that a boat full of buccaneers should be rowing along
that part of the coast.

The pearl-fishing vessels were all at anchor, and the people on board
were quietly attending to their business. Out at sea, some distance
from the mouth of the river, the man-of-war was lying becalmed. The
native divers who went down to the bottom of the sea to bring up the
shellfish which contained the pearls, plunged into the water, and came
up wet and shining in the sun, with no fear whatever of any sharks which
might be swimming about in search of a dinner, and the people on the
vessels opened the oysters and carefully searched for pearls, feeling as
safe from harm as if they were picking olives in their native groves.

But something worse than a shark was quietly making its way over those
tranquil waters, and no banditti who ever descended from Spanish
mountains upon the quiet peasants of a village, equalled in ferocity the
savage fellows who were crouching in the little boat belonging to Pierre
of Tortuga.

This innocent-looking craft, which the pearl-fishers probably thought
was loaded with fruit or vegetables which somebody from the mainland
desired to sell, was permitted, without being challenged or interfered
with, to row up alongside the largest vessel of the fleet, on which
there were some armed men and a few cannon.

As soon as Pierre's boat touched the Spanish vessel, the buccaneers
sprang on board with their pistols and cutlasses, and a savage fight
began. The Spaniards were surprised, but there were a great many more
of them than there were pirates, and they fought hard. However, the man
who makes the attack, and who is at the same time desperate and hungry,
has a great advantage, and it was not long before the buccaneers were
masters of the vessel. Those of the Spaniards who were not killed, were
forced into the service of their captors, and Pierre found himself in
command of a very good vessel.

Now it so happened that the man-of-war was so far away that she knew
nothing of this fight on board one of the fleet which she was there to
watch, and if she had known of it, she would not have been able to give
any assistance, for there was no wind by which she could sail to the
mouth of the river. Therefore, so far as she was concerned, Pierre
considered himself safe.

But although he had captured a Spanish ship, he was not so foolish as to
haul down her flag, and run up his own in her place. He had had very
good success so far, but he was not satisfied. It was quite probable
that there was a rich store of pearls on board the vessel he had taken,
but on the other vessels of the fleet there were many more pearls, and
these he wanted if he could get them. In fact, he conceived the grand
idea of capturing the whole fleet.

But it would be impossible for Pierre to attempt anything on such a
magnificent scale until he had first disposed of the man-of-war, and as
he had now a good strong ship, with a much larger crew than that with
which he had set out,--for the Spanish prisoners would be obliged to man
the guns and help in every way to fight their countrymen,--Pierre
determined to attack the man-of-war.

A land wind began to blow, which enabled him to make very fair headway
out to sea. The Spanish colors were flying from his topmast, and he
hoped to be able, without being suspected of any evil designs, to get so
near to the man-of-war that he might run alongside and boldly board her.

But something now happened which Pierre could not have expected. When
the commander of the war-vessel perceived that one of the fleet under
his charge was leaving her companions and putting out to sea, he could
imagine no reason for such extraordinary conduct, except that she was
taking advantage of the fact that the wind had not yet reached his
vessel, and was trying to run away with the pearls she had on board.
From these ready suspicions we may imagine that, at that time, the
robbers who robbed robbers were not all buccaneers.

Soon after the Spanish captain perceived that one of his fleet was
making his way out of the river, the wind reached his vessel, and he
immediately set all sail and started in pursuit of the rascals, whom he
supposed to be his dishonest countrymen.

The breeze freshened rapidly, and when Pierre and his men saw that the
man-of-war was coming toward them at a good rate of speed, showing
plainly that she had suspicions of them, they gave up all hope of
running alongside of her and boarding her, and concluded that the best
thing they could do would be to give up their plan of capturing the
pearl-fishing fleet, and get away with the ship they had taken, and
whatever it had on board. So they set all sail, and there was a fine
sea-chase.

The now frightened buccaneers were too anxious to get away. They not
only put on all the sail which the vessel could carry, but they put on
more. The wind blew harder, and suddenly down came the mainmast with a
crash. This stopped the chase, and the next act in the performance would
have to be a sea-fight. Pierre and his buccaneers were good at that sort
of thing, and when the man-of-war came up, there was a terrible time on
board those two vessels. But the Spaniards were the stronger, and the
buccaneers were defeated.

There must have been something in the daring courage of this Frenchman
and his little band of followers, which gave him favor in the eyes of
the Spanish captain, for there was no other reason for the good
treatment which the buccaneers received.

They were not put to the sword nor thrown overboard, not sent on shore
and made to work as slaves,--three very common methods of treating
prisoners in those days. But they were all set free, and put on land,
where they might go where they pleased.

This unfortunate result of the bold enterprise undertaken by Pierre
Francois was deeply deplored, not only at Tortuga, but in England and in
France. If this bold buccaneer had captured the pearl fleet, it would
have been a victory that would have made a hero of him on each side of
the Atlantic, but had he even been able to get away with the one vessel
he had seized, he would have been a rich man, and might have retired to
a life of ease and affluence; the vessel he had captured proved to be
one of the richest laden of the whole fleet, and not only in the heart
of Pierre and his men, but among his sympathizers in Europe and America,
there was great disappointment at the loss of that mainmast, which,
until it cracked, was carrying him forward to fame and fortune.




Chapter VI

The Surprising Adventures of Bartholemy Portuguez


As we have seen that the buccaneers were mainly English, French, and
Dutch sailors, who were united to make a common piratical warfare upon
the Spaniards in the West Indies, it may seem a little strange to find a
man from Portugal who seemed to be on the wrong side of this peculiar
fight which was going on in the new world between the sailors of
Northern and Southern Europe. But although Portugal is such a close
neighbor of Spain, the two countries have often been at war with each
other, and their interests are by no means the same. The only advantage
that Portugal could expect from the newly discovered treasures of the
West were those which her seafaring men, acting with the seafaring men
of other nations, should wrest from Spanish vessels homeward bound.

Consequently, there were Portuguese among the pirates of those days.
Among these was a man named Bartholemy Portuguez, a famous
_flibustier_.

It may be here remarked that the name of buccaneer was chiefly affected
by the English adventurers on our coast, while the French members of the
profession often preferred the name of "flibustier." This word, which
has since been corrupted into our familiar "filibuster," is said to have
been originally a corruption, being nothing more than the French method
of pronouncing the word "freebooters," which title had long been used
for independent robbers.

Thus, although Bartholemy called himself a flibustier, he was really a
buccaneer, and his name came to be known all over the Caribbean Sea.
From the accounts we have of him it appears that he did not start out on
his career of piracy as a poor man. He had some capital to invest in the
business, and when he went over to the West Indies he took with him a
small ship, armed with four small cannon, and manned by a crew of picked
men, many of them no doubt professional robbers, and the others anxious
for practice in this most alluring vocation, for the gold fields of
California were never more attractive to the bold and hardy adventurers
of our country, than were the gold fields of the sea to the buccaneers
and flibustiers of the seventeenth century.

When Bartholemy reached the Caribbean Sea he probably first touched at
Tortuga, the pirates' headquarters, and then sailed out very much as if
he had been a fisherman going forth to see what he could catch on the
sea. He cruised about on the track generally taken by treasure ships
going from the mainland to the Havanas, or the island of Hispaniola, and
when at last he sighted a vessel in the distance, it was not long before
he and his men had made up their minds that if they were to have any
sport that day it would be with what might be called most decidedly a
game fish, for the ship slowly sailing toward them was a large Spanish
vessel, and from her portholes there protruded the muzzles of at least
twenty cannon. Of course, they knew that such a vessel would have a much
larger crew than their own, and, altogether, Bartholemy was very much in
the position of a man who should go out to harpoon a sturgeon, and who
should find himself confronted by a vicious swordfish.

The Spanish merchantmen of that day were generally well armed, for
getting home safely across the Atlantic was often the most difficult
part of the treasure-seeking. There were many of these ships, which,
although they did not belong to the Spanish navy, might almost be
designated as men-of-war; and it was one of these with which our
flibustier had now met.

But pirates and fishermen cannot afford to pick and choose. They must
take what comes to them and make the best of it, and this is exactly
the way in which the matter presented itself to Bartholemy and his men.
They held one of their councils around the mast, and after an address
from their leader, they decided that come what may, they must attack
that Spanish vessel.

So the little pirate sailed boldly toward the big Spaniard, and the
latter vessel, utterly astonished at the audacity of this attack,--for
the pirates' flag was flying,--lay to, head to the wind, and waited, the
gunners standing by their cannon. When the pirates had come near enough
to see and understand the size and power of the vessel they had thought
of attacking, they did not, as might have been expected, put about and
sail away at the best of their vessel's speed, but they kept straight on
their course as if they had been about to fall upon a great, unwieldy
merchantman, manned by common sailors.

Perceiving the foolhardiness of the little vessel, the Spanish commander
determined to give it a lesson which would teach its captain to
understand better the relative power of great vessels and little ones,
so, as soon as the pirates' vessel was near enough, he ordered a
broadside fired upon it. The Spanish ship had a great many people on
board. It had a crew of seventy men, and besides these there were some
passengers, and regular marines, and knowing that the captain had
determined to fire upon the approaching vessel, everybody had gathered
on deck to see the little pirate ship go down.

But the ten great cannon-balls which were shot out at Bartholemy's
little craft all missed their aim, and before the guns could be reloaded
or the great ship be got around so as to deliver her other broadside,
the pirate vessel was alongside of her. Bartholemy had fired none of his
cannon. Such guns were useless against so huge a foe. What he was after
was a hand-to-hand combat on the deck of the Spanish ship.

The pirates were all ready for hot work. They had thrown aside their
coats and shirts as if each of them were going into a prize fight, and,
with their cutlasses in their hands, and their pistols and knives in
their belts, they scrambled like monkeys up the sides of the great ship.
But Spaniards are brave men and good fighters, and there were more than
twice as many of them as there were of the pirates, and it was not long
before the latter found out that they could not capture that vessel by
boarding it. So over the side they tumbled as fast as they could go,
leaving some of their number dead and wounded behind them. They jumped
into their own vessel, and then they put off to a short distance to take
breath and get ready for a different kind of a fight. The triumphant
Spaniards now prepared to get rid of this boat load of half-naked wild
beasts, which they could easily do if they should take better aim with
their cannon than they had done before.

But to their amazement they soon found that they could do nothing with
the guns, nor were they able to work their ship so as to get it into
position for effectual shots. Bartholemy and his men laid aside their
cutlasses and their pistols, and took up their muskets, with which they
were well provided. Their vessel lay within a very short range of the
Spanish ship, and whenever a man could be seen through the portholes, or
showed himself in the rigging or anywhere else where it was necessary to
go in order to work the ship, he made himself a target for the good aim
of the pirates. The pirate vessel could move about as it pleased, for it
required but a few men to manage it, and so it kept out of the way of
the Spanish guns, and its best marksmen, crouching close to the deck,
fired and fired whenever a Spanish head was to be seen.

For five long hours this unequal contest was kept up. It might have
reminded one of a man with a slender rod and a long, delicate line, who
had hooked a big salmon. The man could not pull in the salmon, but, on
the other hand, the salmon could not hurt the man, and in the course of
time the big fish would be tired out, and the man would get out his
landing-net and scoop him in.

Now Bartholemy thought he could scoop in the Spanish vessel. So many of
her men had been shot that the two crews would be more nearly equal. So,
boldly, he ran his vessel alongside the big ship and again boarded her.
Now there was another great fight on the decks. The Spaniards had ceased
to be triumphant, but they had become desperate, and in the furious
combat ten of the pirates were killed and four wounded. But the
Spaniards fared worse than that; more than half of the men who had not
been shot by the pirates went down before their cutlasses and pistols,
and it was not long before Bartholemy had captured the great Spanish
ship.

It was a fearful and a bloody victory he had gained. A great part of his
own men were lying dead or helpless on the deck, and of the Spaniards
only forty were left alive, and these, it appears from the accounts,
must have been nearly all wounded or disabled.

It was a common habit among the buccaneers, as well as among the
Spaniards, to kill all prisoners who were not able to work for them, but
Bartholemy does not seem to have arrived at the stage of depravity
necessary for this. So he determined not to kill his prisoners, but he
put them all into a boat and let them go where they pleased; while he
was left with fifteen men to work a great vessel which required a crew
of five times that number.

But the men who could conquer and capture a ship against such enormous
odds, felt themselves fully capable of working her, even with their
little crew. Before doing anything in the way of navigation they cleared
the decks of the dead bodies, taking from them all watches, trinkets,
and money, and then went below to see what sort of a prize they had
gained. They found it a very good one indeed. There were seventy-five
thousand crowns in money, besides a cargo of cocoa worth five thousand
more, and this, combined with the value of the ship and all its
fittings, was a great fortune for those days.

When the victorious pirates had counted their gains and had mended the
sails and rigging of their new ship, they took what they wanted out of
their own vessel, and left her to sink or to float as she pleased, and
then they sailed away in the direction of the island of Jamaica. But the
winds did not suit them, and, as their crew was so very small, they
could not take advantage of light breezes as they could have done if
they had had men enough. Consequently they were obliged to stop to get
water before they reached the friendly vicinity of Jamaica.

They cast anchor at Cape St. Anthony on the west end of Cuba. After a
considerable delay at this place they started out again to resume their
voyage, but it was not long before they perceived, to their horror,
three Spanish vessels coming towards them. It was impossible for a very
large ship, manned by an extremely small crew, to sail away from those
fully equipped vessels, and as to attempting to defend themselves
against the overwhelming power of the antagonists, that was too absurd
to be thought of even by such a reckless fellow as Bartholemy. So, when
the ship was hailed by the Spanish vessels he lay to and waited until a
boat's crew boarded him. With the eye of a nautical man the Spanish
captain of one of the ships perceived that something was the matter with
this vessel, for its sails and rigging were terribly cut up in the long
fight through which it had passed, and of course he wanted to know what
had happened. When he found that the great ship was in the possession of
a very small body of pirates, Bartholemy and his men were immediately
made prisoners, taken on board the Spanish ship, stripped of everything
they possessed, even their clothes, and shut up in the hold. A crew from
the Spanish ships was sent to man the vessel which had been captured,
and then the little fleet set sail for San Francisco in Campeachy.

An hour had worked a very great change in the fortunes of Bartholemy and
his men; in the fine cabin of their grand prize they had feasted and
sung, and had gloried over their wonderful success, and now, in the
vessel of their captor, they were shut up in the dark, to be enslaved or
perhaps executed.

But it is not likely that any one of them either despaired or repented;
these are sentiments very little in use by pirates.




Chapter VII

The Pirate who could not Swim


When the little fleet of Spanish vessels, including the one which had
been captured by Bartholemy Portuguez and his men, were on their way to
Campeachy, they met with very stormy weather so that they were
separated, and the ship which contained Bartholemy and his companions
arrived first at the port for which they were bound.

The captain, who had Bartholemy and the others in charge, did not know
what an important capture he had made; he supposed that these pirates
were ordinary buccaneers, and it appears that it was his intention to
keep them as his own private prisoners, for, as they were all very
able-bodied men, they would be extremely useful on a ship. But when his
vessel was safely moored, and it became known in the town that he had a
company of pirates on board, a great many people came from shore to see
these savage men, who were probably looked upon very much as if they
were a menagerie of wild beasts brought from foreign lands.

Among the sightseers who came to the ship was a merchant of the town who
had seen Bartholemy before, and who had heard of his various exploits.
He therefore went to the captain of the vessel and informed him that he
had on board one of the very worst pirates in the whole world, whose
wicked deeds were well known in various parts of the West Indies, and
who ought immediately to be delivered up to the civil authorities. This
proposal, however, met with no favor from the Spanish captain, who had
found Bartholemy a very quiet man, and could see that he was a very
strong one, and he did not at all desire to give up such a valuable
addition to his crew. But the merchant grew very angry, for he knew that
Bartholemy had inflicted great injury on Spanish commerce, and as the
captain would not listen to him, he went to the Governor of the town and
reported the case. When this dignitary heard the story he immediately
sent a party of officers to the ship, and commanded the captain to
deliver the pirate leader into their charge. The other men were left
where they were, but Bartholemy was taken away and confined in another
ship. The merchant, who seemed to know a great deal about him, informed
the authorities that this terrible pirate had been captured several
times, but that he had always managed to escape, and, therefore, he was
put in irons, and preparations were made to execute him on the next day;
for, from what he had heard, the Governor considered that this pirate
was no better than a wild beast, and that he should be put to death
without even the formality of a trial.

But there was a Spanish soldier on board the ship who seemed to have had
some pity, or perhaps some admiration, for the daring pirate, and he
thought that if he were to be hung the next day it was no more than
right to let him know it, so that when he went in to take some food to
Bartholemy he told him what was to happen.

Now this pirate captain was a man who always wanted to have a share in
what was to happen, and he immediately racked his brain to find out what
he could do in this case. He had never been in a more desperate
situation, but he did not lose heart, and immediately set to work to
free himself from his irons, which were probably very clumsy affairs. At
last, caring little how much he scratched and tore his skin, he
succeeded in getting rid of his fetters, and could move about as freely
as a tiger in a cage. To get out of this cage was Bartholemy's first
object. It would be comparatively easy, because in the course of time
some one would come into the hold, and the athletic buccaneer thought
that he could easily get the better of whoever might open the hatch.
But the next act in this truly melodramatic performance would be a great
deal more difficult; for in order to escape from the ship it would be
absolutely necessary for Bartholemy to swim to shore, and he did not
know how to swim, which seems a strange failing in a hardy sailor with
so many other nautical accomplishments. In the rough hold where he was
shut up, our pirate, peering about, anxious and earnest, discovered two
large, earthen jars in which wine had been brought from Spain, and with
these he determined to make a sort of life-preserver. He found some
pieces of oiled cloth, which he tied tightly over the open mouths of the
jars and fastened them with cords. He was satisfied that this unwieldy
contrivance would support him in the water.

Among other things he had found in his rummagings about the hold was an
old knife, and with this in his hand he now sat waiting for a good
opportunity to attack his sentinel.

This came soon after nightfall. A man descended with a lantern to see
that the prisoner was still secure,--let us hope that it was not the
soldier who had kindly informed him of his fate,--and as soon as he was
fairly in the hold Bartholemy sprang upon him. There was a fierce
struggle, but the pirate was quick and powerful, and the sentinel was
soon dead. Then, carrying his two jars, Bartholemy climbed swiftly and
noiselessly up the short ladder, came out on deck in the darkness, made
a rush toward the side of the ship, and leaped overboard. For a moment
he sank below the surface, but the two air-tight jars quickly rose and
bore him up with them. There was a bustle on board the ship, there was
some random firing of muskets in the direction of the splashing which
the watch had heard, but none of the balls struck the pirate or his
jars, and he soon floated out of sight and hearing. Kicking out with his
legs, and paddling as well as he could with one hand while he held on to
the jars with the other, he at last managed to reach the land, and ran
as fast as he could into the dark woods beyond the town.

Bartholemy was now greatly in fear that, when his escape was discovered,
he would be tracked by bloodhounds,--for these dogs were much used by
the Spaniards in pursuing escaping slaves or prisoners,--and he
therefore did not feel safe in immediately making his way along the
coast, which was what he wished to do. If the hounds should get upon his
trail, he was a lost man. The desperate pirate, therefore, determined to
give the bloodhounds no chance to follow him, and for three days he
remained in a marshy forest, in the dark recesses of which he could
hide, and where the water, which covered the ground, prevented the dogs
from following his scent. He had nothing to eat except a few roots of
water-plants, but he was accustomed to privation, and these kept him
alive. Often he heard the hounds baying on the dry land adjoining the
marsh, and sometimes he saw at night distant torches, which he was sure
were carried by men who were hunting for him.

But at last the pursuit seemed to be given up; and hearing no more dogs
and seeing no more flickering lights, Bartholemy left the marsh and set
out on his long journey down the coast. The place he wished to reach was
called Golpho Triste, which was forty leagues away, but where he had
reason to suppose he would find some friends. When he came out from
among the trees, he mounted a small hill and looked back upon the town.
The public square was lighted, and there in the middle of it he saw the
gallows which had been erected for his execution, and this sight,
doubtless, animated him very much during the first part of his journey.

The terrible trials and hardships which Bartholemy experienced during
his tramp along the coast were such as could have been endured only by
one of the strongest and toughest of men. He had found in the marsh an
old gourd, or calabash, which he had filled with fresh water,--for he
could expect nothing but sea-water during his journey,--and as for
solid food he had nothing but the raw shellfish which he found upon the
rocks; but after a diet of roots, shellfish must have been a very
agreeable change, and they gave him all the strength and vigor he
needed. Very often he found streams and inlets which he was obliged to
ford, and as he could see that they were always filled with alligators,
the passage of them was not very pleasant. His method of getting across
one of these narrow streams, was to hurl rocks into the water until he
had frightened away the alligators immediately in front of him, and
then, when he had made for himself what seemed to be a free passage, he
would dash in and hurry across.

At other times great forests stretched down to the very coast, and
through these he was obliged to make his way, although he could hear the
roars and screams of wild beasts all about him. Any one who is afraid to
go down into a dark cellar to get some apples from a barrel at the foot
of the stairs, can have no idea of the sort of mind possessed by
Bartholemy Portuguez. The animals might howl around him and glare at him
with their shining eyes, and the alligators might lash the water into
foam with their great tails, but he was bound for Golpho Triste and was
not to be stopped on his way by anything alive.

But at last he came to something not alive, which seemed to be an
obstacle which would certainly get the better of him. This was a wide
river, flowing through the inland country into the sea. He made his way
up the shore of this river for a considerable distance, but it grew but
little narrower, and he could see no chance of getting across. He could
not swim and he had no wine-jars now with which to buoy himself up, and
if he had been able to swim he would probably have been eaten up by
alligators soon after he left the shore. But a man in his situation
would not be likely to give up readily; he had done so much that he was
ready to do more if he could only find out what to do.

Now a piece of good fortune happened to him, although to an ordinary
traveller it might have been considered a matter of no importance
whatever. On the edge of the shore, where it had floated down from some
region higher up the river, Bartholemy perceived an old board, in which
there were some long and heavy rusty nails. Greatly encouraged by this
discovery the indefatigable traveller set about a work which resembled
that of the old woman who wanted a needle, and who began to rub a
crow-bar on a stone in order to reduce it to the proper size. Bartholemy
carefully knocked all the nails out of the board, and then finding a
large flat stone, he rubbed down one of them until he had formed it
into the shape of a rude knife blade, which he made as sharp as he
could. Then with these tools he undertook the construction of a raft,
working away like a beaver, and using the sharpened nails instead of his
teeth. He cut down a number of small trees, and when he had enough of
these slender trunks he bound them together with reeds and osiers, which
he found on the river bank. So, after infinite labor and trial he
constructed a raft which would bear him on the surface of the water.
When he had launched this he got upon it, gathering up his legs so as to
keep out of reach of the alligators, and with a long pole pushed himself
off from shore. Sometimes paddling and sometimes pushing his pole
against the bottom, he at last got across the river and took up his
journey upon dry land.

But our pirate had not progressed very far upon the other side of the
river before he met with a new difficulty of a very formidable
character. This was a great forest of mangrove trees, which grow in
muddy and watery places and which have many roots, some coming down from
the branches, and some extending themselves in a hopeless tangle in the
water and mud. It would have been impossible for even a stork to walk
through this forest, but as there was no way of getting around it
Bartholemy determined to go through it, even if he could not walk. No
athlete of the present day, no matter if he should be a most
accomplished circus-man, could reasonably expect to perform the feat
which this bold pirate successfully accomplished. For five or six
leagues he went through that mangrove forest, never once setting his
foot upon the ground,--by which is meant mud, water, and roots,--but
swinging himself by his hands and arms, from branch to branch, as if he
had been a great ape, only resting occasionally, drawing himself upon a
stout limb where he might sit for a while and get his breath. If he had
slipped while he was swinging from one limb to another and had gone down
into the mire and roots beneath him, it is likely that he would never
have been able to get out alive. But he made no slips. He might not have
had the agility and grace of a trapeze performer, but his grasp was
powerful and his arms were strong, and so he swung and clutched, and
clutched and swung, until he had gone entirely through the forest and
had come out on the open coast.




Chapter VIII

How Bartholemy rested Himself


It was full two weeks from the time that Bartholemy began his most
adventurous and difficult journey before he reached the little town of
Golpho Triste, where, as he had hoped, he found some of his buccaneer
friends. Now that his hardships and dangers were over, and when, instead
of roots and shellfish, he could sit down to good, plentiful meals, and
stretch himself upon a comfortable bed, it might have been supposed that
Bartholemy would have given himself a long rest, but this hardy pirate
had no desire for a vacation at this time. Instead of being worn out and
exhausted by his amazing exertions and semi-starvation, he arrived among
his friends vigorous and energetic and exceedingly anxious to recommence
business as soon as possible. He told them of all that had happened to
him, what wonderful good fortune had come to him, and what terrible bad
fortune had quickly followed it, and when he had related his adventures
and his dangers he astonished even his piratical friends by asking them
to furnish him with a small vessel and about twenty men, in order that
he might go back and revenge himself, not only for what had happened to
him, but for what would have happened if he had not taken his affairs
into his own hands.

To do daring and astounding deeds is part of the business of a pirate,
and although it was an uncommonly bold enterprise that Bartholemy
contemplated, he got his vessel and he got his men, and away he sailed.
After a voyage of about eight days he came in sight of the little
seaport town, and sailing slowly along the coast, he waited until
nightfall before entering the harbor. Anchored at a considerable
distance from shore was the great Spanish ship on which he had been a
prisoner, and from which he would have been taken and hung in the public
square; the sight of the vessel filled his soul with a savage fury known
only to pirates and bull dogs.

As the little vessel slowly approached the great ship, the people on
board the latter thought it was a trading-vessel from shore, and allowed
it to come alongside, such small craft seldom coming from the sea. But
the moment Bartholemy reached the ship he scrambled up its side almost
as rapidly as he had jumped down from it with his two wine-jars a few
weeks before, and every one of his crew, leaving their own vessel to
take care of itself, scrambled up after him.

Nobody on board was prepared to defend the ship. It was the same old
story; resting quietly in a peaceful harbor, what danger had they to
expect? As usual the pirates had everything their own way; they were
ready to fight, and the others were not, and they were led by a man who
was determined to take that ship without giving even a thought to the
ordinary alternative of dying in the attempt. The affair was more of a
massacre than a combat, and there were people on board who did not know
what was taking place until the vessel had been captured.

As soon as Bartholemy was master of the great vessel he gave orders to
slip the cable and hoist the sails, for he was anxious to get out of
that harbor as quickly as possible. The fight had apparently attracted
no attention in the town, but there were ships in the port whose company
the bold buccaneer did not at all desire, and as soon as possible he got
his grand prize under way and went sailing out of the port.

Now, indeed, was Bartholemy triumphant; the ship he had captured was a
finer one and a richer one than that other vessel which had been taken
from him. It was loaded with valuable merchandise, and we may here
remark that for some reason or other all Spanish vessels of that day
which were so unfortunate as to be taken by pirates, seemed to be richly
laden.

If our bold pirate had sung wild pirate songs, as he passed the flowing
bowl while carousing with his crew in the cabin of the Spanish vessel he
had first captured, he now sang wilder songs, and passed more flowing
bowls, for this prize was a much greater one than the first. If
Bartholemy could have communicated his great good fortune to the other
buccaneers in the West Indies, there would have been a boom in piracy
which would have threatened great danger to the honesty and integrity of
the seafaring men of that region.

But nobody, not even a pirate, has any way of finding out what is going
to happen next, and if Bartholemy had had an idea of the fluctuations
which were about to occur in the market in which he had made his
investments he would have been in a great hurry to sell all his stock
very much below par. The fluctuations referred to occurred on the ocean,
near the island of Pinos, and came in the shape of great storm waves,
which blew the Spanish vessel with all its rich cargo, and its
triumphant pirate crew, high up upon the cruel rocks, and wrecked it
absolutely and utterly. Bartholemy and his men barely managed to get
into a little boat, and row themselves away. All the wealth and
treasure which had come to them with the capture of the Spanish vessel,
all the power which the possession of that vessel gave them, and all the
wild joy which came to them with riches and power, were lost to them in
as short a space of time as it had taken to gain them.

In the way of well-defined and conspicuous ups and downs, few lives
surpassed that of Bartholemy Portuguez. But after this he seems, in the
language of the old English song, "All in the downs." He had many
adventures after the desperate affair in the bay of Campeachy, but they
must all have turned out badly for him, and, consequently, very well, it
is probable, for divers and sundry Spanish vessels, and, for the rest of
his life, he bore the reputation of an unfortunate pirate. He was one of
those men whose success seemed to have depended entirely upon his own
exertions. If there happened to be the least chance of his doing
anything, he generally did it; Spanish cannon, well-armed Spanish crews,
manacles, imprisonment, the dangers of the ocean to a man who could not
swim, bloodhounds, alligators, wild beasts, awful forests impenetrable
to common men, all these were bravely met and triumphed over by
Bartholemy.

But when he came to ordinary good fortune, such as any pirate might
expect, Bartholemy the Portuguese found that he had no chance at all.
But he was not a common pirate, and was, therefore, obliged to be
content with his uncommon career. He eventually settled in the island of
Jamaica, but nobody knows what became of him. If it so happened that he
found himself obliged to make his living by some simple industry, such
as the selling of fruit upon a street corner, it is likely he never
disposed of a banana or an orange unless he jumped at the throat of a
passer-by and compelled him to purchase. As for sitting still and
waiting for customers to come to him, such a man as Bartholemy would not
be likely to do anything so commonplace.




Chapter IX

A Pirate Author


In the days which we are considering there were all sorts of pirates,
some of whom gained much reputation in one way and some in another, but
there was one of them who had a disposition different from that of any
of his fellows. He was a regular pirate, but it is not likely that he
ever did much fighting, for, as he took great pride in the brave deeds
of the Brethren of the Coast, he would have been sure to tell us of his
own if he had ever performed any. He was a mild-mannered man, and,
although he was a pirate, he eventually laid aside the pistol, the
musket, and the cutlass, and took up the pen,--a very uncommon weapon
for a buccaneer.

This man was John Esquemeling, supposed by some to be a Dutchman, and by
others a native of France. He sailed to the West Indies in the year
1666, in the service of the French West India Company. He went out as a
peaceable merchant clerk, and had no more idea of becoming a pirate
than he had of going into literature, although he finally did both.

At that time the French West India Company had a colonial establishment
on the island of Tortuga, which was principally inhabited, as we have
seen before, by buccaneers in all their various grades and stages, from
beef-driers to pirates. The French authorities undertook to supply these
erratic people with the goods and provisions which they needed, and
built storehouses with everything necessary for carrying on the trade.
There were plenty of purchasers, for the buccaneers were willing to buy
everything which could be brought from Europe. They were fond of good
wine, good groceries, good firearms, and ammunition, fine cutlasses, and
very often good clothes, in which they could disport themselves when on
shore. But they had peculiar customs and manners, and although they were
willing to buy as much as the French traders had to sell, they could not
be prevailed upon to pay their bills. A pirate is not the sort of a man
who generally cares to pay his bills. When he gets goods in any way, he
wants them charged to him, and if that charge includes the features of
robbery and murder, he will probably make no objection. But as for
paying good money for what is received, that is quite another thing.

That this was the state of feeling on the island of Tortuga was
discovered before very long by the French mercantile agents, who then
applied to the mother country for assistance in collecting the debts due
them, and a body of men, who might be called collectors, or deputy
sheriffs, was sent out to the island; but although these officers were
armed with pistols and swords, as well as with authority, they could do
nothing with the buccaneers, and after a time the work of endeavoring to
collect debts from pirates was given up. And as there was no profit in
carrying on business in this way, the mercantile agency was also given
up, and its officers were ordered to sell out everything they had on
hand, and come home. There was, therefore, a sale, for which cash
payments were demanded, and there was a great bargain day on the island
of Tortuga. Everything was disposed of,--the stock of merchandise on
hand, the tables, the desks, the stationery, the bookkeepers, the
clerks, and the errand boys. The living items of the stock on hand were
considered to be property just as if they had been any kind of
merchandise, and were sold as slaves.

Now poor John Esquemeling found himself in a sad condition. He was
bought by one of the French officials who had been left on the island,
and he described his new master as a veritable fiend. He was worked
hard, half fed, treated cruelly in many ways, and to add to his misery,
his master tantalized him by offering to set him free upon the payment
of a sum of money equal to about three hundred dollars. He might as well
have been asked to pay three thousand or three million dollars, for he
had not a penny in the world.

At last he was so fortunate as to fall sick, and his master, as
avaricious as he was cruel, fearing that this creature he owned might
die, and thus be an entire loss to him, sold him to a surgeon, very much
as one would sell a sick horse to a veterinary surgeon, on the principle
that he might make something out of the animal by curing him.

His new master treated Esquemeling very well, and after he had taken
medicine and food enough to set him upon his legs, and had worked for
the surgeon about a year, that kind master offered him his liberty if he
would promise, as soon as he could earn the money, to pay him one
hundred dollars, which would be a profit to his owner, who had paid but
seventy dollars for him. This offer, of course, Esquemeling accepted
with delight, and having made the bargain, he stepped forth upon the
warm sands of the island of Tortuga a free and happy man. But he was as
poor as a church mouse. He had nothing in the world but the clothes on
his back, and he saw no way in which he could make money enough to keep
himself alive until he had paid for himself. He tried various ways of
support, but there was no opening for a young business man in that
section of the country, and at last he came to the conclusion that there
was only one way by which he could accomplish his object, and he
therefore determined to enter into "the wicked order of pirates or
robbers at sea."

It must have been a strange thing for a man accustomed to pens and ink,
to yard-sticks and scales, to feel obliged to enroll himself into a
company of bloody, big-bearded pirates, but a man must eat, and
buccaneering was the only profession open to our ex-clerk. For some
reason or other, certainly not on account of his bravery and daring,
Esquemeling was very well received by the pirates of Tortuga. Perhaps
they liked him because he was a mild-mannered man and so different from
themselves. Nobody was afraid of him, every one felt superior to him,
and we are all very apt to like people to whom we feel superior.

As for Esquemeling himself, he soon came to entertain the highest
opinion of his pirate companions. He looked upon the buccaneers who had
distinguished themselves as great heroes, and it must have been
extremely gratifying to those savage fellows to tell Esquemeling all the
wonderful things they had done. In the whole of the West Indies there
was no one who was in the habit of giving such intelligent attention to
the accounts of piratical depredations and savage sea-fights, as was
Esquemeling and if he had demanded a salary as a listener there is no
doubt that it would have been paid to him.

It was not long before his intense admiration of the buccaneers and
their performances began to produce in him the feeling that the history
of these great exploits should not be lost to the world, and so he set
about writing the lives and adventures of many of the buccaneers with
whom he became acquainted.

He remained with the pirates for several years, and during that time
worked very industriously getting material together for his history.
When he returned to his own country in 1672, having done as much
literary work as was possible among the uncivilized surroundings of
Tortuga, he there completed a book, which he called, "The Buccaneers of
America, or The True Account of the Most Remarkable Assaults Committed
of Late Years Upon the Coasts of the West Indies by the Buccaneers,
etc., by John Esquemeling, One of the Buccaneers, Who Was Present at
Those Tragedies."

From this title it is probable that our literary pirate accompanied his
comrades on their various voyages and assaults, in the capacity of
reporter, and although he states he was present at many of "those
tragedies," he makes no reference to any deeds of valor or cruelty
performed by himself, which shows him to have been a wonderfully
conscientious historian. There are persons, however, who doubt his
impartiality, because, as he liked the French, he always gave the
pirates of that nationality the credit for most of the bravery displayed
on their expeditions, and all of the magnanimity and courtesy, if there
happened to be any, while the surliness, brutality, and extraordinary
wickednesses were all ascribed to the English. But be this as it may,
Esquemeling's history was a great success. It was written in Dutch and
was afterwards translated into English, French, and Spanish. It
contained a great deal of information regarding buccaneering in general,
and most of the stories of pirates which we have already told, and many
of the surprising narrations which are to come, have been taken from the
book of this buccaneer historian.




Chapter X

The Story of Roc, the Brazilian


Having given the history of a very plain and quiet buccaneer, who was a
reporter and writer, and who, if he were now living, would be eligible
as a member of an Authors' Club, we will pass to the consideration of a
regular out-and-out pirate, one from whose mast-head would have floated
the black flag with its skull and cross-bones if that emblematic piece
of bunting had been in use by the pirates of the period.

This famous buccaneer was called Roc, because he had to have a name, and
his own was unknown, and "the Brazilian," because he was born in Brazil,
though of Dutch parents. Unlike most of his fellow-practitioners he did
not gradually become a pirate. From his early youth he never had an
intention of being anything else. As soon as he grew to be a man he
became a bloody buccaneer, and at the first opportunity he joined a
pirate crew, and had made but a few voyages when it was perceived by his
companions that he was destined to become a most remarkable sea-robber.
He was offered the command of a ship with a well-armed crew of marine
savages, and in a very short time after he had set out on his first
independent cruise he fell in with a Spanish ship loaded with silver
bullion; having captured this, he sailed with his prize to Jamaica,
which was one of the great resorts of the English buccaneers. There his
success delighted the community, his talents for the conduct of great
piratical operations soon became apparent, and he was generally
acknowledged as the Head Pirate of the West Indies.

He was now looked upon as a hero even by those colonists who had no
sympathy with pirates, and as for Esquemeling, he simply worshipped the
great Brazilian desperado. If he had been writing the life and times of
Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or Mr. Gladstone, he could not have
been more enthusiastic in his praises. And as in The Arabian Nights the
roc is described as the greatest of birds, so, in the eyes of the
buccaneer biographer, this Roc was the greatest of pirates. But it was
not only in the mind of the historian that Roc now became famous; the
better he became known, the more general was the fear and respect felt
for him, and we are told that the mothers of the islands used to put
their children to sleep by threatening them with the terrible Roc if
they did not close their eyes. This story, however, I regard with a
great deal of doubt; it has been told of Saladin and many other wicked
and famous men, but I do not believe it is an easy thing to frighten a
child into going to sleep. If I found it necessary to make a youngster
take a nap, I should say nothing of the condition of affairs in Cuba or
of the persecutions of the Armenians.

This renowned pirate from Brazil must have been a terrible fellow to
look at. He was strong and brawny, his face was short and very wide,
with high cheek-bones, and his expression probably resembled that of a
pug dog. His eyebrows were enormously large and bushy, and from under
them he glared at his mundane surroundings. He was not a man whose
spirit could be quelled by looking him steadfastly in the eye. It was
his custom in the daytime to walk about, carrying a drawn cutlass,
resting easily upon his arm, edge up, very much as a fine gentleman
carries his high silk hat, and any one who should impertinently stare or
endeavor to quell his high spirits in any other way, would probably have
felt the edge of that cutlass descending rapidly through his physical
organism.

He was a man who insisted upon being obeyed, and if any one of his crew
behaved improperly, or was even found idle, this strict and inexorable
master would cut him down where he stood. But although he was so strict
and exacting during the business sessions of his piratical year, by
which I mean when he was cruising around after prizes, he was very much
more disagreeable when he was taking a vacation. On his return to
Jamaica after one of his expeditions it was his habit to give himself
some relaxation after the hardships and dangers through which he had
passed, and on such occasions it was a great comfort to Roc to get
himself thoroughly drunk. With his cutlass waving high in the air, he
would rush out into the street and take a whack at every one whom he
met. As far as was possible the citizens allowed him to have the street
to himself, and it was not at all likely that his visits to Jamaica were
looked forward to with any eager anticipations.

Roc, it may be said, was not only a bloody pirate, but a blooded one; he
was thoroughbred. From the time he had been able to assert his
individuality he had been a pirate, and there was no reason to suppose
that he would ever reform himself into anything else. There were no
extenuating circumstances in his case; in his nature there was no alloy,
nor moderation, nor forbearance. The appreciative Esquemeling, who might
be called the Boswell of the buccaneers, could never have met his hero
Roc, when that bushy-bearded pirate was running "amuck" in the streets,
but if he had, it is not probable that his book would have been written.
He assures us that when Roc was not drunk he was esteemed, but at the
same time feared; but there are various ways of gaining esteem, and
Roc's method certainly succeeded very well in the case of his literary
associate.

As we have seen, the hatred of the Spaniards by the buccaneers began
very early in the settlement of the West Indies, and in fact, it is very
likely that if there had been no Spaniards there would never have been
any buccaneers; but in all the instances of ferocious enmity toward the
Spaniards there has been nothing to equal the feelings of Roc, the
Brazilian, upon that subject. His dislike to everything Spanish arose,
he declared, from cruelties which had been practised upon his parents by
people of that nation, and his main principle of action throughout all
his piratical career seems to have been that there was nothing too bad
for a Spaniard. The object of his life was to wage bitter war against
Spanish ships and Spanish settlements. He seldom gave any quarter to his
prisoners, and would often subject them to horrible tortures in order to
make them tell where he could find the things he wanted. There is
nothing horrible that has ever been written or told about the buccaneer
life, which could not have been told about Roc, the Brazilian. He was a
typical pirate.

[Illustration: "In a small boat filled with some of his trusty men, he
rowed quietly into the port."--p. 77.]

Roc was very successful, in his enterprises, and took a great deal of
valuable merchandise to Jamaica, but although he and his crew were
always rich men when they went on shore, they did not remain in that
condition very long. The buccaneers of that day were all very
extravagant, and, moreover, they were great gamblers, and it was not
uncommon for them to lose everything they possessed before they had been
on shore a week. Then there was nothing for them to do but to go on
board their vessels and put out to sea in search of some fresh prize. So
far Roc's career had been very much like that of many other Companions
of the Coast, differing from them only in respect to intensity and
force, but he was a clever man with ideas, and was able to adapt himself
to circumstances.

He was cruising about Campeachy without seeing any craft that was worth
capturing, when he thought that it would be very well for him to go out
on a sort of marine scouting expedition and find out whether or not
there were any Spanish vessels in the bay which were well laden and
which were likely soon to come out. So, with a small boat filled with
some of his trusty men, he rowed quietly into the port to see what he
could discover. If he had had Esquemeling with him, and had sent that
mild-mannered observer into the harbor to investigate into the state of
affairs, and come back with a report, it would have been a great deal
better for the pirate captain, but he chose to go himself, and he came
to grief. No sooner did the people on the ships lying in the harbor
behold a boat approaching with a big-browed, broad-jawed mariner sitting
in the stern, and with a good many more broad-backed, hairy mariners
than were necessary, pulling at the oars, than they gave the alarm. The
well-known pirate was recognized, and it was not long before he was
captured. Roc must have had a great deal of confidence in his own
powers, or perhaps he relied somewhat upon the fear which his very
presence evoked. But he made a mistake this time; he had run into the
lion's jaw, and the lion had closed his teeth upon him.

When the pirate captain and his companions were brought before the
Governor, he made no pretence of putting them to trial. Buccaneers were
outlawed by the Spanish, and were considered as wild beasts to be killed
without mercy wherever caught. Consequently Roc and his men were thrown
into a dungeon and condemned to be executed. If, however, the Spanish
Governor had known what was good for himself, he would have had them
killed that night.

During the time that preparations were going on for making examples of
these impertinent pirates, who had dared to enter the port of Campeachy,
Roc was racking his brains to find some method of getting out of the
terrible scrape into which he had fallen. This was a branch of the
business in which a capable pirate was obliged to be proficient; if he
could not get himself out of scrapes, he could not expect to be
successful. In this case there was no chance of cutting down sentinels,
or jumping overboard with a couple of wine-jars for a life-preserver, or
of doing any of those ordinary things which pirates were in the habit of
doing when escaping from their captors. Roc and his men were in a
dungeon on land, inside of a fortress, and if they escaped from this,
they would find themselves unarmed in the midst of a body of Spanish
soldiers. Their stout arms and their stout hearts were of no use to them
now, and they were obliged to depend upon their wits if they had any.
Roc had plenty of wit, and he used it well. There was a slave, probably
not a negro nor a native, but most likely some European who had been
made prisoner, who came in to bring him food and drink, and by the means
of this man the pirate hoped to play a trick upon the Governor. He
promised the slave that if he would help him,--and he told him it would
be very easy to do so,--he would give him money enough to buy his
freedom and to return to his friends, and this, of course, was a great
inducement to the poor fellow, who may have been an Englishman or a
Frenchman in good circumstances at home. The slave agreed to the
proposals, and the first thing he did was to bring some
writing-materials to Roc, who thereupon began the composition of a
letter upon which he based all his hopes of life and freedom.

When he was coming into the bay, Roc had noticed a large French vessel
that was lying at some distance from the town, and he wrote his letter
as if it had come from the captain of this ship. In the character of
this French captain he addressed his letter to the Governor of the town,
and in it he stated that he had understood that certain Companions of
the Coast, for whom he had great sympathy,--for the French and the
buccaneers were always good friends,--had been captured by the Governor,
who, he heard, had threatened to execute them. Then the French captain,
by the hand of Roc, went on to say that if any harm should come to these
brave men, who had been taken and imprisoned when they were doing no
harm to anybody, he would swear, in his most solemn manner, that never,
for the rest of his life, would he give quarter to any Spaniard who
might fall into his hands, and he, moreover, threatened that any kind of
vengeance which should become possible for the buccaneers and French
united, to inflict upon the Spanish ships, or upon the town of
Campeachy, should be taken as soon as possible after he should hear of
any injury that might be inflicted upon the unfortunate men who were
then lying imprisoned in the fortress.

When the slave came back to Roc, the letter was given to him with very
particular directions as to what he was to do with it. He was to
disguise himself as much as possible, so that he should not be
recognized by the people of the place, and then in the night he was to
make his way out of the town, and early in the morning he was to return
as if he had been walking along the shore of the harbor, when he was to
state that he had been put on shore from the French vessel in the
offing, with a letter which he was to present to the Governor.

The slave performed his part of the business very well. The next day,
wet and bedraggled, from making his way through the weeds and mud of the
coast, he presented himself at the fortress with his letter, and when he
was allowed to take it to the Governor, no one suspected that he was a
person employed about the place. Having fulfilled his mission, he
departed, and when seen again he was the same servant whose business it
was to carry food to the prisoners.

The Governor read the letter with a disquieted mind; he knew that the
French ship which was lying outside the harbor was a powerful vessel and
he did not like French ships, anyway. The town had once been taken and
very badly treated by a little fleet of French and English buccaneers,
and he was very anxious that nothing of the kind should happen again.
There was no great Spanish force in the harbor at that time, and he did
not know how many buccaneering vessels might be able to gather together
in the bay if it should become known that the great pirate Roc had been
put to death in Campeachy. It was an unusual thing for a prisoner to
have such powerful friends so near by, and the Governor took Roc's case
into most earnest consideration. A few hours' reflection was sufficient
to convince him that it would be very unsafe to tamper with such a
dangerous prize as the pirate Roc, and he determined to get rid of him
as soon as possible. He felt himself in the position of a man who has
stolen a baby-bear, and who hears the roar of an approaching parent
through the woods; to throw away the cub and walk off as though he had
no idea there were any bears in that forest would be the inclination of
a man so situated, and to get rid of the great pirate without provoking
the vengeance of his friends was the natural inclination of the
Governor.

Now Roc and his men were treated well, and having been brought before
the Governor, were told that in consequence of their having committed no
overt act of disorder they would be set at liberty and shipped to
England, upon the single condition that they would abandon piracy and
agree to become quiet citizens in whatever respectable vocation they
might select.

To these terms Roc and his men agreed without argument. They declared
that they would retire from the buccaneering business, and that nothing
would suit them better than to return to the ways of civilization and
virtue. There was a ship about to depart for Spain, and on this the
Governor gave Roc and his men free passage to the other side of the
ocean. There is no doubt that our buccaneers would have much preferred
to have been put on board the French vessel; but as the Spanish Governor
had started his prisoners on the road to reform, he did not wish to
throw them into the way of temptation by allowing them to associate with
such wicked companions as Frenchmen, and Roc made no suggestion of the
kind, knowing very well how greatly astonished the French captain would
be if the Governor were to communicate with him on the subject.

On the voyage to Spain Roc was on his good behavior, and he was a man
who knew how to behave very well when it was absolutely necessary: no
doubt there must have been many dull days on board ship when he would
have been delighted to gamble, to get drunk, and to run "amuck" up and
down the deck. But he carefully abstained from all these recreations,
and showed himself to be such an able-bodied and willing sailor that the
captain allowed him to serve as one of the crew. Roc knew how to do a
great many things; not only could he murder and rob, but he knew how to
turn an honest penny when there was no other way of filling his purse.
He had learned among the Indians how to shoot fish with bow and arrows,
and on this voyage across the Atlantic he occupied all his spare time in
sitting in the rigging and shooting the fish which disported themselves
about the vessel. These fish he sold to the officers, and we are told
that in this way he earned no less than five hundred crowns, perhaps
that many dollars. If this account is true, fish must have been very
costly in those days, but it showed plainly that if Roc had desired to
get into an honest business, he would have found fish-shooting a
profitable occupation. In every way Roc behaved so well that for his
sake all his men were treated kindly and allowed many privileges.

But when this party of reformed pirates reached Spain and were allowed
to go where they pleased, they thought no more of the oaths they had
taken to abandon piracy than they thought of the oaths which they had
been in the habit of throwing right and left when they had been
strolling about on the island of Jamaica. They had no ship, and not
enough money to buy one, but as soon as they could manage it they sailed
back to the West Indies, and eventually found themselves in Jamaica, as
bold and as bloody buccaneers as ever they had been.

Not only did Roc cast from him every thought of reformation and a
respectable life, but he determined to begin the business of piracy on a
grander scale than ever before. He made a compact with an old French
buccaneer, named Tributor, and with a large company of buccaneers he
actually set out to take a town. Having lost everything he possessed,
and having passed such a long time without any employment more
profitable than that of shooting fish with a bow and arrows, our doughty
pirate now desired to make a grand strike, and if he could take a town
and pillage it of everything valuable it contained, he would make a very
good fortune in a very short time, and might retire, if he chose, from
the active practice of his profession.

The town which Roc and Tributor determined to attack was Merida, in
Yucatan, and although this was a bold and rash undertaking, the two
pirates were bold and rash enough for anything. Roc had been a prisoner
in Merida, and on account of his knowledge of the town he believed that
he and his followers could land upon the coast, and then quietly advance
upon the town without their approach being discovered. If they could do
this, it would be an easy matter to rush upon the unsuspecting garrison,
and, having annihilated these, make themselves masters of the town.

But their plans did not work very well; they were discovered by some
Indians, after they had landed, who hurried to Merida and gave notice of
the approach of the buccaneers. Consequently, when Roc and his
companions reached the town they found the garrison prepared for them,
cannons loaded, and all the approaches guarded. Still the pirates did
not hesitate; they advanced fiercely to the attack just as they were
accustomed to do when they were boarding a Spanish vessel, but they soon
found that fighting on land was very different from fighting at sea. In
a marine combat it is seldom that a party of boarders is attacked in the
rear by the enemy, although on land such methods of warfare may always
be expected; but Roc and Tributor did not expect anything of the kind,
and they were, therefore, greatly dismayed when a party of horsemen from
the town, who had made a wide detour through the woods, suddenly charged
upon their rear. Between the guns of the garrison and the sabres of the
horsemen the buccaneers had a very hard time, and it was not long before
they were completely defeated. Tributor and a great many of the pirates
were killed or taken, and Roc, the Brazilian, had a terrible fall.

This most memorable fall occurred in the estimation of John Esquemeling,
who knew all about the attack on Merida, and who wrote the account of
it. But he had never expected to be called upon to record that his
great hero, Roc, the Brazilian, saved his life, after the utter defeat
of himself and his companions, by ignominiously running away. The loyal
chronicler had as firm a belief in the absolute inability of his hero to
fly from danger as was shown by the Scottish Douglas, when he stood, his
back against a mass of stone, and invited his enemies to "Come one, come
all." The bushy-browed pirate of the drawn cutlass had so often
expressed his contempt for a soldier who would even surrender, to say
nothing of running away, that Esquemeling could scarcely believe that
Roc had retreated from his enemies, deserted his friends, and turned his
back upon the principles which he had always so truculently proclaimed.

But this downfall of a hero simply shows that Esquemeling, although he
was a member of the piratical body, and was proud to consider himself a
buccaneer, did not understand the true nature of a pirate. Under the
brutality, the cruelty, the dishonesty, and the recklessness of the
sea-robbers of those days, there was nearly always meanness and
cowardice. Roc, as we have said in the beginning of this sketch, was a
typical pirate; under certain circumstances he showed himself to have
all those brave and savage qualities which Esquemeling esteemed and
revered, and under other circumstances he showed those other qualities
which Esquemeling despised, but which are necessary to make up the true
character of a pirate.

The historian John seems to have been very much cut up by the manner in
which his favorite hero had rounded off his piratical career, and after
that he entirely dropped Roc from his chronicles.

This out-and-out pirate was afterwards living in Jamaica, and probably
engaged in new enterprises, but Esquemeling would have nothing more to
do with him nor with the history of his deeds.




Chapter XI

A Buccaneer Boom


The condition of affairs in the West Indies was becoming very serious in
the eyes of the Spanish rulers. They had discovered a new country, they
had taken possession of it, and they had found great wealth of various
kinds, of which they were very much in need. This wealth was being
carried to Spain as fast as it could be taken from the unfortunate
natives and gathered together for transportation, and everything would
have gone on very well indeed had it not been for the most culpable and
unwarranted interference of that lawless party of men, who might almost
be said to amount to a nationality, who were continually on the alert to
take from Spain everything she could take from America. The English,
French, and Dutch governments were generally at peace with Spain, but
they sat by quietly and saw their sailor subjects band themselves
together and make war upon Spanish commerce,--a very one-sided commerce,
it is true.

It was of no use for Spain to complain of the buccaneers to her sister
maritime nations. It is not certain that they could have done anything
to interfere with the operations of the sea-robbers who originally
sailed from their coasts, but it is certain they did not try to do
anything. Whatever was to be done, Spain must do herself. The pirates
were as slippery as they were savage, and although the Spaniards made a
regular naval war upon them, they seemed to increase rather than to
diminish. Every time that a Spanish merchantman was taken, and its gold
and silver and valuable goods carried off to Tortuga or Jamaica, and
divided among a lot of savage and rollicking fellows, the greater became
the enthusiasm among the Brethren of the Coast, and the wider spread the
buccaneering boom. More ships laden almost entirely with stalwart men,
well provided with arms, and very badly furnished with principles, came
from England and France, and the Spanish ships of war in the West Indies
found that they were confronted by what was, in many respects, a regular
naval force.

The buccaneers were afraid of nothing; they paid no attention to the
rules of war,--a little ship would attack a big one without the
slightest hesitation, and more than that, would generally take it,--and
in every way Spain was beginning to feel as if she were acting the part
of provider to the pirate seamen of every nation.

Finding that she could do nothing to diminish the number of the
buccaneering vessels, Spain determined that she would not have so many
richly laden ships of her own upon these dangerous seas; consequently, a
change was made in regard to the shipping of merchandise and the
valuable metals from America to her home ports. The cargoes were
concentrated, and what had previously been placed upon three ships was
crowded into the holds and between the decks of one great vessel, which
was so well armed and defended as to make it almost impossible for any
pirate ship to capture it. In some respects this plan worked very well,
although when the buccaneers did happen to pounce upon one of these
richly laden vessels, in such numbers and with such swift ferocity, that
they were able to capture it, they rejoiced over a prize far more
valuable than anything the pirate soul had ever dreamed of before. But
it was not often that one of these great ships was taken, and for a time
the results of Spanish robbery and cruelty were safely carried to Spain.

But it was very hard to get the better of the buccaneers; their lives
and their fortunes depended upon this boom, and if in one way they could
not get the gold out of the Spaniards, which the latter got out of the
natives, they would try another. When the miners in the gold fields find
they can no longer wash out with their pans a paying quantity of the
precious metal, they go to work on the rocks and break them into pieces
and crush them into dust; so, when the buccaneers found it did not pay
to devote themselves to capturing Spanish gold on its transit across the
ocean, many of them changed their methods of operation and boldly
planned to seize the treasures of their enemy before it was put upon the
ships.

Consequently, the buccaneers formed themselves into larger bodies
commanded by noted leaders, and made attacks upon the Spanish
settlements and towns. Many of these were found nearly defenceless, and
even those which boasted fortifications often fell before the reckless
charges of the buccaneers. The pillage, the burning, and the cruelty on
shore exceeded that which had hitherto been known on the sea. There is
generally a great deal more in a town than there is in a ship, and the
buccaneers proved themselves to be among the most outrageous, exacting,
and cruel conquerors ever known in the world. They were governed by no
laws of warfare; whatever they chose to do they did. They respected
nobody, not even themselves, and acted like wild beasts, without the
disposition which is generally shown by a wild beast, to lie down and go
to sleep when he has had enough.

There were times when it seemed as though it would be safer for a man
who had a regard for his life and comfort, to sail upon a pirate ship
instead of a Spanish galleon, or to take up his residence in one of the
uncivilized communities of Tortuga or Jamaica, instead of settling in a
well-ordered Spanish-American town with its mayor, its officials, and
its garrison.

It was a very strange nation of marine bandits which had thus sprung
into existence on these faraway waters; it was a nation of grown-up men,
who existed only for the purpose of carrying off that which other people
were taking away; it was a nation of second-hand robbers, who carried
their operations to such an extent that they threatened to do away
entirely with that series of primary robberies to which Spain had
devoted herself. I do not know that there were any companies formed in
those days for the prosecution of buccaneering, but I am quite sure that
if there had been, their shares would have gone up to a very high
figure.




Chapter XII

The Story of L'Olonnois the Cruel


In the preceding chapter we have seen that the buccaneers had at last
become so numerous and so formidable that it was dangerous for a Spanish
ship laden with treasure from the new world to attempt to get out of the
Caribbean Sea into the Atlantic, and that thus failing to find enough
richly laden vessels to satisfy their ardent cravings for plunder, the
buccaneers were forced to make some change in their methods of criminal
warfare; and from capturing Spanish galleons, they formed themselves
into well-organized bodies and attacked towns.

Among the buccaneer leaders who distinguished themselves as land pirates
was a thoroughbred scoundrel by the name of Francis L'Olonnois, who was
born in France. In those days it was the custom to enforce servitude
upon people who were not able to take care of themselves. Unfortunate
debtors and paupers of all classes were sold to people who had need of
their services. The only difference sometimes between master and
servant depended entirely upon the fact that one had money, and the
other had none. Boys and girls were sold for a term of years, somewhat
as if they had been apprentices, and it so happened that the boy
L'Olonnois was sold to a master who took him to the West Indies. There
he led the life of a slave until he was of age, and then, being no
longer subject to ownership, he became one of the freest and most
independent persons who ever walked this earth.

He began his career on the island of Hispaniola, where he took up the
business of hunting and butchering cattle; but he very soon gave up this
life for that of a pirate, and enlisted as a common sailor on one of
their ships. Here he gave signs of such great ability as a brave and
unscrupulous scoundrel that one of the leading pirates on the island of
Tortuga gave him a ship and a crew, and set him up in business on his
own account. The piratical career of L'Olonnois was very much like that
of other buccaneers of the day, except that he was so abominably cruel
to the Spanish prisoners whom he captured that he gained a reputation
for vile humanity, surpassing that of any other rascal on the western
continent. When he captured a prisoner, it seemed to delight his soul as
much to torture and mutilate him before killing him as to take away
whatever valuables he possessed. His reputation for ingenious
wickedness spread all over the West Indies, so that the crews of Spanish
ships, attacked by this demon, would rather die on their decks or sink
to the bottom in their ships than be captured by L'Olonnois.

All the barbarities, the brutalities, and the fiendish ferocity which
have ever been attributed to the pirates of the world were united in the
character of this inhuman wretch, who does not appear to be so good an
example of the true pirate as Roc, the Brazilian. He was not so brave,
he was not so able, and he was so utterly base that it would be
impossible for any one to look upon him as a hero. After having attained
in a very short time the reputation of being the most bloody and wicked
pirate of his day, L'Olonnois was unfortunate enough to be wrecked upon
the coast, not far from the town of Campeachy. He and his crew got
safely to shore, but it was not long before their presence was
discovered by the people of the town, and the Spanish soldiers thereupon
sallied out and attacked them. There was a fierce fight, but the
Spaniards were the stronger, and the buccaneers were utterly defeated.
Many of them were killed, and most of the rest wounded or taken
prisoners.

Among the wounded was L'Olonnois, and as he knew that if he should be
discovered he would meet with no mercy, he got behind some bushes,
scooped up several handfuls of sand, mixed it with his blood, and with
it rubbed his face so that it presented the pallor of a corpse. Then he
lay down among the bodies of his dead companions, and when the Spaniards
afterwards walked over the battlefield, he was looked upon as one of the
common pirates whom they had killed.

When the soldiers had retired into the town with their prisoners, the
make-believe corpse stealthily arose and made his way into the woods,
where he stayed until his wounds were well enough for him to walk about.
He divested himself of his great boots, his pistol belt, and the rest of
his piratical costume, and, adding to his scanty raiment a cloak and hat
which he had stolen from a poor cottage, he boldly approached the town
and entered it. He looked like a very ordinary person, and no notice was
taken of him by the authorities. Here he found shelter and something to
eat, and he soon began to make himself very much at home in the streets
of Campeachy.

It was a very gay time in the town, and, as everybody seemed to be
happy, L'Olonnois was very glad to join in the general rejoicing, and
these hilarities gave him particular pleasure as he found out that he
was the cause of them. The buccaneers who had been captured, and who
were imprisoned in the fortress, had been interrogated over and over
again by the Spanish officials in regard to L'Olonnois, their commander,
and, as they had invariably answered that he had been killed, the
Spanish were forced to believe the glad tidings, and they celebrated the
death of the monster as the greatest piece of public good fortune which
could come to their community. They built bonfires, they sang songs
about the death of the black-hearted buccaneer, and services of
thanksgiving were held in their churches.

All this was a great delight to L'Olonnois, who joined hands with the
young men and women, as they danced around the bonfires; he assisted in
a fine bass voice in the choruses which told of his death and his
dreadful doom, and he went to church and listened to the priests and the
people as they gave thanks for their deliverance from his enormities.

But L'Olonnois did not waste all his time chuckling over the baseless
rejoicings of the people of the town. He made himself acquainted with
some of the white slaves, men who had been brought from England, and
finding some of them very much discontented with their lot, he ventured
to tell them that he was one of the pirates who had escaped, and offered
them riches and liberty if they would join him in a scheme he had
concocted. It would have been easy enough for him to get away from the
town by himself, but this would have been of no use to him unless he
obtained some sort of a vessel, and some men to help him navigate it. So
he proposed to the slaves that they should steal a small boat belonging
to the master of one of them, and in this, under cover of the night, the
little party safely left Campeachy and set sail for Tortuga, which, as
we have told, was then the headquarters of the buccaneers, and "the
common place of refuge of all sorts or wickedness, and the seminary, as
it were, of all manner of pirates."




Chapter XIII

A Resurrected Pirate


When L'Olonnois arrived at Tortuga he caused great astonishment among
his old associates; that he had come back a comparative pauper surprised
no one, for this was a common thing to happen to a pirate, but the
wonder was that he got back at all.

He had no money, but, by the exercise of his crafty abilities, he
managed to get possession of a ship, which he manned with a crew of
about a score of impecunious dare-devils who were very anxious to do
something to mend their fortunes.

Having now become very fond of land-fighting, he did not go out in
search of ships, but directed his vessel to a little village called de
los Cayos, on the coast of Cuba, for here, he thought, was a chance for
a good and easy stroke of business. This village was the abode of
industrious people, who were traders in tobacco, hides, and sugar, and
who were obliged to carry on their traffic in a rather peculiar manner.
The sea near their town was shallow, so that large ships could not
approach very near, and thus the villagers were kept busy carrying goods
and supplies in small boats, backwards and forwards from the town to the
vessels at anchor. Here was a nice little prize that could not get away
from him, and L'Olonnois had plenty of time to make his preparations to
seize it. As he could not sail a ship directly up to the town, he
cruised about the coast at some distance from de los Cayos, endeavoring
to procure two small boats in which to approach the town, but although
his preparations were made as quietly as possible, the presence of his
vessel was discovered by some fishermen. They knew that it was a pirate
ship, and some of them who had seen L'Olonnois recognized that dreaded
pirate upon the deck. Word of the impending danger was taken to the
town, and the people there immediately sent a message by land to Havana,
informing the Governor of the island that the cruel pirate L'Olonnois
was in a ship a short distance from their village, which he undoubtedly
intended to attack.

When the Governor heard this astonishing tale, it was almost impossible
for him to believe it. The good news of the death of L'Olonnois had come
from Campeachy to Havana, and the people of the latter town also
rejoiced greatly. To be now told that this scourge of the West Indies
was alive, and was about to fall upon a peaceful little village on the
island over which he ruled, filled the Governor with rage as well as
amazement, and he ordered a well-armed ship, with a large crew of
fighting men, to sail immediately for de los Cayos, giving the captain
express orders that he was not to come back until he had obliterated
from the face of the earth the whole of the wretched gang with the
exception of the leader. This extraordinary villain was to be brought to
Havana to be treated as the Governor should see fit. In order that his
commands should be executed promptly and effectually, the Governor sent
a big negro slave in the ship, who was charged with the duty of hanging
every one of the pirates except L'Olonnois.

By the time the war-vessel had arrived at de los Cayos, L'Olonnois had
made his preparation to attack the place. He had procured two large
canoes, and in these he had intended to row up to the town and land with
his men. But now there was a change in the state of affairs, and he was
obliged to alter his plans. The ordinary person in command of two small
boats, who should suddenly discover that a village which he supposed
almost defenceless, was protected by a large man-of-war, with cannon and
a well-armed crew, would have altered his plans so completely that he
would have left that part of the coast of Cuba with all possible
expedition. But the pirates of that day seemed to pay very little
attention to the element of odds; if they met an enemy who was weak,
they would fall upon him, and if they met with one who was a good deal
stronger than themselves, they would fall upon him all the same. When
the time came to fight they fought.

Of course L'Olonnois could not now row leisurely up to the town and
begin to pillage it as he had intended, but no intention of giving up
his project entered his mind. As the Spanish vessel was in his way, he
would attack her and get her out of his way if the thing could be done.

In this new state of affairs he was obliged to use stratagem, and he
also needed a larger force than he had with him, and he therefore
captured some men who were fishing along the coast and put them into his
canoes to help work the oars. Then by night he proceeded slowly in the
direction of the Spanish vessel. The man-of-war was anchored not very
far from the town, and when about two o'clock in the morning the watch
on deck saw some canoes approaching they supposed them to be boats from
shore, for, as has been said, such vessels were continually plying about
those shallow waters. The canoes were hailed, and after having given an
account of themselves they were asked if they knew anything about the
pirate ship upon the coast. L'Olonnois understood very well that it
would not do for him or his men to make answer to these inquiries, for
their speech would have shown they did not belong to those parts.
Therefore he made one of his prisoner fishermen answer that they had not
seen a pirate vessel, and if there had been one there, it must have
sailed away when its captain heard the Spanish ship was coming. Then the
canoes were allowed to go their way, but their way was a very different
one from any which could have been expected by the captain of the ship.

They rowed off into the darkness instead of going toward the town, and
waited until nearly daybreak, then they boldly made for the man-of-war,
one canoe attacking her on one side and the other on the other. Before
the Spanish could comprehend what had happened there were more than
twenty pirates upon their decks, the dreaded L'Olonnois at their head.

In such a case as this cannon were of no use, and when the crew tried to
rush upon deck, they found that cutlasses and pistols did not avail very
much better. The pirates had the advantage; they had overpowered the
watch, and were defending the deck against all comers from below. It
requires a very brave sailor to stick his head out of a hatchway when he
sees three or four cutlasses ready to split it open. But there was some
stout fighting on board; the officers came out of their cabins, and some
of the men were able to force their way out into the struggle. The
pirates knew, however, that they were but few and that were their
enemies allowed to get on deck they would prove entirely too strong, and
they fought, each scoundrel of them, like three men, and the savage
fight ended by every Spanish sailor or officer who was not killed or
wounded being forced to stay below decks, where the hatches were
securely fastened down upon them.

L'Olonnois now stood a proud victor on the deck of his prize, and, being
a man of principle, he determined to live up to the distinguished
reputation which he had acquired in that part of the world. Baring his
muscular and hairy right arm, he clutched the handle of his sharp and
heavy cutlass and ordered the prisoners to be brought up from below, one
at a time, and conducted to the place where he stood. He wished to give
Spain a lesson which would make her understand that he was not to be
interfered with in the execution of his enterprises, and he determined
to allow himself the pleasure of personally teaching this lesson.

As soon as a prisoner was brought to L'Olonnois he struck off his head,
and this performance he continued, beginning with number one, and going
on until he had counted ninety. The last one brought to him was the
negro slave. This man, who was not a soldier, was desperately frightened
and begged piteously for his life. L'Olonnois, finding that the man was
willing to tell everything he knew, questioned him about the sending of
this vessel from Havana, and when the poor fellow had finished by
telling that he had come there, not of his own accord, but simply for
the purpose of obeying his master, to hang all the pirates except their
leader, that great buccaneer laughed, and, finding he could get nothing
more from the negro, cut off his head likewise, and his body was tumbled
into the sea after those of his companions.

Now there was not a Spaniard left on board the great ship except one
man, who had been preserved from the fate of the others because
L'Olonnois had some correspondence to attend to, and he needed a
messenger to carry a letter. The pirate captain went into the cabin,
where he found writing-materials ready to his hand, and there he
composed a letter to the Governor of Havana, a part of which read as
follows: "I shall never henceforward give quarter unto any Spaniard
whatsoever. And I have great hopes that I shall execute on your own
person the very same punishment I have done to them you sent against me.
Thus I have retaliated the kindness you designed unto me and my
companions."

When this message was received by the dignified official who filled the
post of Governor of Cuba, he stormed and fairly foamed at the mouth. To
be utterly foiled and discomfited by this resurrected pirate, and to be
afterwards addressed in terms of such unheard-of insolence and abuse,
was more than he could bear, and, in the presence of many of his
officials and attendants, he swore a terrible oath that after that hour
he would never again give quarter to any buccaneer, no matter when or
where he was captured, or what he might be doing at the time. Every man
of the wretched band should die as soon as he could lay hands upon him.

But when the inhabitants of Havana and the surrounding villages heard of
this terrible resolution of their Governor they were very much
disturbed. They lived in constant danger of attack, especially those who
were engaged in fishing or maritime pursuits, and they feared that when
it became known that no buccaneer was to receive quarter, the Spanish
colonists would be treated in the same way, no matter where they might
be found and taken. Consequently, it was represented to the Governor
that his plan of vengeance would work most disastrously for the Spanish
settlers, for the buccaneers could do far more damage to them than he
could possibly do to these dreadful Brethren of the Coast, and that,
unless he wished to bring upon them troubles greater than those of
famine or pestilence, they begged that he would retract his oath.

When the high dignitary had cooled down a little, he saw that there was
a good deal of sense in what the representative of the people had said
to him, and he consequently felt obliged, in consideration of the public
safety, to take back what he had said, and to give up the purpose, which
would have rendered unsafe the lives of so many peaceable people.

L'Olonnois was now the possessor of a fine vessel which had not been in
the least injured during the battle in which it had been won. But his
little crew, some of whom had been killed and wounded, was insufficient
to work such a ship upon an important cruise on the high seas, and he
also discovered, much to his surprise, that there were very few
provisions on board, for when the vessel was sent from Havana it was
supposed she would make but a very short cruise. This savage swinger of
the cutlass thereupon concluded that he would not try to do any great
thing for the present, but, having obtained some booty and men from the
woe-begone town of de los Cayos, he sailed away, touching at several
other small ports for the purpose of pillage, and finally anchoring at
Tortuga.




Chapter XIV

Villany on a Grand Scale


When L'Olonnois landed on the disreputable shores of Tortuga, he was
received by all circles of the vicious society of the island with loud
acclamation. He had not only taken a fine Spanish ship, he had not only
bearded the Governor of Havana in his fortified den, but he had struck
off ninety heads with his own hand. Even people who did not care for him
before reverenced him now. In all the annals of piracy no hero had ever
done such a deed as this, and the best records of human butchering had
been broken.

Now grand and ambitious ideas began to swell the head of this champion
slaughterer, and he conceived the plan of getting up a grand expedition
to go forth and capture the important town of Maracaibo, in New
Venezuela. This was an enterprise far above the ordinary aims of a
buccaneer, and it would require more than ordinary force to accomplish
it. He therefore set himself to work to enlist a large number of men and
to equip a fleet of vessels, of which he was to be chief commander or
admiral. There were a great many unemployed pirates in Tortuga at that
time, and many a brawny rascal volunteered to sail under the flag of the
daring butcher of the seas.

But in order to equip a fleet, money was necessary as well as men,
and therefore L'Olonnois thought himself very lucky when he succeeded
in interesting the principal piratical capitalist of Tortuga in his
undertaking. This was an old and seasoned buccaneer by the name of
Michael de Basco, who had made money enough by his piratical exploits
to retire from business and live on his income. He held the position
of Mayor of the island and was an important man among his
fellow-miscreants. When de Basco heard of the great expedition which
L'Olonnois was about to undertake, his whole soul was fired and he could
not rest tamely in his comfortable quarters when such great things were
to be done, and he offered to assist L'Olonnois with funds and join in
the expedition if he were made commander of the land forces. This offer
was accepted gladly, for de Basco had a great reputation as a fighter in
Europe as well as in America.

When everything had been made ready, L'Olonnois set sail for Maracaibo
with a fleet of eight ships. On the way they captured two Spanish
vessels, both of which were rich prizes, and at last they arrived
before the town which they intended to capture.

Maracaibo was a prosperous place of three or four thousand inhabitants;
they were rich people living in fine houses, and many of them had
plantations which extended out into the country. In every way the town
possessed great attractions to piratical marauders, but there were
difficulties in the way; being such an important place, of course it had
important defences. On an island in the harbor there was a strong fort,
or castle, and on another island a little further from the town there
was a tall tower, on the top of which a sentinel was posted night and
day to give notice of any approaching enemy. Between these two islands
was the only channel by which the town could be approached from the sea.
But in preparing these defences the authorities had thought only of
defending themselves against ordinary naval forces and had not
anticipated the extraordinary naval methods of the buccaneers who used
to be merely sea-robbers, who fell upon ships after they had left their
ports, but who now set out to capture not only ships at sea but towns on
land.

L'Olonnois had too much sense to run his ships close under the guns of
the fortress, against which he could expect to do nothing, for the
buccaneers relied but little upon their cannon, and so they paid no
more attention to the ordinary harbor than if it had not been there, but
sailed into a fresh-water lake at some distance from the town, and out
of sight of the tower. There L'Olonnois landed his men, and, advancing
upon the fort from the rear, easily crossed over to the little island
and marched upon the fort. It was very early in the morning. The
garrison was utterly amazed by this attack from land, and although they
fought bravely for three hours, they were obliged to give up the defence
of the walls, and as many of them as could do so got out of the fort and
escaped to the mainland and the town.

L'Olonnois now took possession of the fort, and then, with the greater
part of his men, he returned to his ships, brought them around to the
entrance of the bay, and then boldly sailed with his whole fleet under
the very noses of the cannon and anchored in the harbor in front of the
town.

When the citizens of Maracaibo heard from the escaping garrison that the
fort had been taken, they were filled with horror and dismay, for they
had no further means of defence. They knew that the pirates had come
there for no other object than to rob, pillage, and cruelly treat them,
and consequently as many as possible hurried away into the woods and the
surrounding country with as many of their valuables as they could carry.
They resembled the citizens of a town attacked by the cholera or the
plague, and in fact, they would have preferred a most terrible
pestilence to this terrible scourge of piracy from which they were about
to suffer.

As soon as L'Olonnois and his wild pirates had landed in the city they
devoted themselves entirely to eating and drinking and making themselves
merry. They had been on short commons during the latter part of their
voyage, and they had a royal time with the abundance of food and wine
which they found in the houses of the town. The next day, however, they
set about attending to the business which had brought them there, and
parties of pirates were sent out into the surrounding country to find
the people who had run away and to take from them the treasures they had
carried off. But although a great many of the poor, miserable,
unfortunate citizens were captured and brought back to the town, there
was found upon them very little money, and but few jewels or ornaments
of value. And now L'Olonnois began to prove how much worse his presence
was than any other misfortune which could have happened to the town. He
tortured the poor prisoners, men, women, and children, to make them tell
where they had hidden their treasures, sometimes hacking one of them
with his sword, declaring at the same time that if he did not tell where
his money was hidden he would immediately set to work to cut up his
family and his friends.

The cruelties inflicted upon the inhabitants by this vile and beastly
pirate and his men were so horrible that they could not be put into
print. Even John Esquemeling, who wrote the account of it, had not the
heart to tell everything that had happened. But after two weeks of
horror and torture, the pirates were able to get but comparatively
little out of the town, and they therefore determined to go somewhere
else, where they might do better.

At the southern end of Lake Maracaibo, about forty leagues from the town
which the pirates had just desolated and ruined, lay Gibraltar, a
good-sized and prosperous town, and for this place L'Olonnois and his
fleet now set sail; but they were not able to approach unsuspected and
unseen, for news of their terrible doings had gone before them, and
their coming was expected. When they drew near the town they saw the
flag flying from the fort, and they knew that every preparation had been
made for defence. To attack such a place as this was a rash undertaking;
the Spaniards had perhaps a thousand soldiers, and the pirates numbered
but three hundred and eighty, but L'Olonnois did not hesitate. As usual,
he had no thought of bombardment, or any ordinary method of naval
warfare; but at the first convenient spot he landed all his men, and
having drawn them up in a body, he made them an address. He made them
understand clearly the difficult piece of work which was before them;
but he assured them that pirates were so much in the habit of conquering
Spaniards that if they would all promise to follow him and do their
best, he was certain he could take the town. He assured them that it
would be an ignoble thing to give up such a grand enterprise as this
simply because they found the enemy strong and so well prepared to meet
them, and ended by stating that if he saw a man flinch or hold back for
a second, he would pistol him with his own hand. Whereupon the pirates
all shook hands and promised they would follow L'Olonnois wherever he
might lead them.

This they truly did, and L'Olonnois, having a very imperfect knowledge
of the proper way to the town, led them into a wild bog, where this
precious pack of rascals soon found themselves up to their knees in mud
and water, and in spite of all the cursing and swearing which they did,
they were not able to press through the bog or get out of it. In this
plight they were discovered by a body of horsemen from the town, who
began firing upon them. The Spaniards must now have thought that their
game was almost bagged and that all they had to do was to stand on the
edge of the bog and shoot down the floundering fellows who could not get
away from them. But these fellows were bloody buccaneers, each one of
them a great deal harder to kill than a cat, and they did not propose to
stay in the bog to be shot down. With their cutlasses they hewed off
branches of trees and threw these down in the bog, making a sort of rude
roadway by means of which they were able to get out on solid ground. But
here they found themselves confronted by a large body of Spaniards,
entrenched behind earthworks. Cannon and musket were opened upon the
buccaneers, and the noise and smoke were so terrible they could scarcely
hear the commands of their leaders.

Never before, perhaps, had pirates been engaged in such a land battle as
this. Very soon the Spaniards charged from behind their earthworks, and
then L'Olonnois and his men were actually obliged to fly back. If he
could have found any way of retreating to his ships, L'Olonnois would
doubtless have done so, in spite of his doughty words, when he addressed
his men, but this was now impossible, for the Spaniards had felled trees
and had made a barricade between the pirates and their ships. The
buccaneers were now in a very tight place; their enemy was behind
defences and firing at them steadily, without showing any intention of
coming out to give the pirates a chance for what they considered a fair
fight. Every now and then a buccaneer would fall, and L'Olonnois saw
that as it would be utterly useless to endeavor to charge the barricade
he must resort to some sort of trickery or else give up the battle.

Suddenly he passed the word for every man to turn his back and run away
as fast as he could from the earthworks. Away scampered the pirates, and
from the valiant Spaniards there came a shout of victory. The soldiers
could not be restrained from following the fugitives and putting to
death every one of the cowardly rascals. Away went the buccaneers, and
after them, hot and furious, came the soldiers. But as soon as the
Spaniards were so far away from their entrenchments that they could not
get back to them, the crafty L'Olonnois, who ran with one eye turned
behind him, called a halt, his men turned, formed into battle array, and
began an onslaught upon their pursuing enemy, such as these military
persons had never dreamed of in their wildest imagination. We are told
that over two hundred Spaniards perished in a very short time. Before a
furious pirate with a cutlass a soldier with his musket seemed to have
no chance at all, and very soon the Spaniards who were left alive broke
and ran into the woods.

The buccaneers formed into a body and marched toward the town, which
surrendered without firing a gun, and L'Olonnois and his men, who, but
an hour before, had been in danger of being shot down by their enemy as
if they had been rabbits in a pen, now marched boldly into the centre of
the town, pulled down the Spanish flag, and hoisted their own in its
place. They were the masters of Gibraltar. Never had ambitious villany
been more successful.




Chapter XV

A Just Reward


When L'Olonnois and his buccaneers entered the town of Gibraltar they
found that the greater part of the inhabitants had fled, but there were
many people left, and these were made prisoners as fast as they were
discovered. They were all forced to go into the great church, and then
the pirates, fearing that the Spaniards outside of the town might be
reenforced and come back again to attack them, carried a number of
cannon into the church and fortified the building. When this had been
done, they felt safe and began to act as if they had been a menagerie of
wild beasts let loose upon a body of defenceless men, women, and
children. Not only did these wretched men rush into the houses, stealing
everything valuable they could find and were able to carry away, but
when they had gathered together all they could discover they tortured
their poor prisoners by every cruel method they could think of, in order
to make them tell where more treasures were concealed. Many of these
unfortunates had had nothing to hide, and therefore could give no
information to their brutal inquisitors, and others died without telling
what they had done with their valuables. When the town had been
thoroughly searched and sifted, the pirates sent men out into the little
villages and plantations in the country, and even hunters and small
farmers were captured and made to give up everything they possessed
which was worth taking.

For nearly three weeks these outrageous proceedings continued, and to
prove that they were lower than the brute beasts they allowed the
greater number of the prisoners collected in the church, to perish of
hunger. There were not provisions enough in the town for the pirates'
own uses and for these miserable creatures also, and so, with the
exception of a small quantity of mule flesh, which many of the prisoners
could not eat, they got nothing whatever, and slowly starved.

When L'Olonnois and his friends had been in possession of Gibraltar for
about a month, they thought it was time to leave, but their greedy souls
were not satisfied with the booty they had already obtained, and they
therefore sent messages to the Spaniards who were still concealed in the
forests, that unless in the course of two days a ransom of ten thousand
pieces of eight were paid to them, they would burn the town to the
ground. No matter what they thought of this heartless demand, it was
not easy for the scattered citizens to collect such a sum as this, and
the two days passed without the payment of the ransom, and the
relentless pirates promptly carried out their threat and set the town on
fire in various places. When the poor Spaniards saw this and perceived
that they were about to lose even their homes, they sent to the town and
promised that if the pirates would put out the fires they would pay the
money. In the hope of more money, and not in the least moved by any
feeling of kindness, L'Olonnois ordered his men to help put out the
fires, but they were not extinguished until a quarter of the town was
entirely burned and a fine church reduced to ashes.

When the buccaneers found they could squeeze nothing more out of the
town, they went on board their ships, carrying with them all the plunder
and booty they had collected, and among their spoils were about five
hundred slaves, of all ages and both sexes, who had been offered an
opportunity to ransom themselves, but who, of course, had no money with
which to buy their freedom, and who were now condemned to a captivity
worse than anything they had ever known before.

Now the eight ships with their demon crews sailed away over the lake
toward Maracaibo. It was quite possible for them to get out to sea
without revisiting this unfortunate town, but as this would have been a
very good thing for them to do, it was impossible for them to do it; no
chance to do anything wicked was ever missed by these pirates.
Consequently L'Olonnois gave orders to drop anchor near the city, and
then he sent some messengers ashore to inform the already half-ruined
citizens that unless they sent him thirty thousand pieces of eight he
would enter their town again, carry away everything they had left, and
burn the place to the ground. The poor citizens sent a committee to
confer with the pirates, and while the negotiations were going on some
of the conscienceless buccaneers went on shore and carried off from one
of the great churches its images, pictures, and even its bells. It was
at last arranged that the citizens should pay twenty thousand pieces of
eight, which was the utmost sum they could possibly raise, and, in
addition to this, five hundred head of beef-cattle, and the pirates
promised that if this were done they would depart and molest the town no
more. The money was paid, the cattle were put on board the ships, and to
the unspeakable relief of the citizens, the pirate fleet sailed away
from the harbor.

But it would be difficult to express the horror and dismay of those same
citizens when, three days afterward, those pirate ships all came back
again. Black despair now fell upon the town; there was nothing more to
be stolen, and these wretches must have repented that they had left the
town standing, and had returned to burn it down. But when one man came
ashore in a boat bringing the intelligence that L'Olonnois could not get
his largest ship across a bar at the entrance to the lake, and that he
wanted a pilot to show him the channel, then the spirits of the people
went up like one great united rocket, bursting into the most beautiful
coruscations of sparks and colors. There was nothing on earth that they
would be so glad to furnish him as a pilot to show him how to sail away
from their shores. The pilot was instantly sent to the fleet, and
L'Olonnois and his devastating band departed.

They did not go directly to Tortuga, but stopped at a little island near
Hispaniola, which was inhabited by French buccaneers, and this delay was
made entirely for the purpose of dividing the booty. It seems strange
that any principle of right and justice should have been regarded by
these dishonest knaves, even in their relations to each other, but they
had rigid rules in regard to the division of their spoils, and according
to these curious regulations the whole amount of plunder was apportioned
among the officers and crews of the different ships.

Before the regular allotment of shares was made, the claims of the
wounded were fully satisfied according to their established code. For
the loss of a right arm a man was paid about six hundred dollars or six
slaves; for the loss of a left arm, five hundred dollars, or five
slaves; for a missing right leg, five hundred dollars, or five slaves;
for a missing left leg, four hundred dollars, or four slaves; for an eye
or a finger, one hundred dollars, or one slave. Then the rest of the
money and spoils were divided among all the buccaneers without reference
to what had been paid to the wounded. The shares of those who had been
killed were given to friends or acquaintances, who undertook to deliver
them to their families.

The spoils in this case consisted of two hundred and sixty thousand
dollars in money and a great quantity of valuable goods, besides many
slaves and precious stones and jewels. These latter were apportioned
among the men in the most ridiculous manner, the pirates having no idea
of the relative value of the jewels, some of them preferring large and
worthless colored stones to smaller diamonds and rubies. When all their
wickedly gained property had been divided, the pirates sailed to
Tortuga, where they proceeded, without loss of time, to get rid of the
wealth they had amassed. They ate, they drank, they gambled; they
crowded the taverns as taverns have never been crowded before; they sold
their valuable merchandise for a twentieth part of its value to some of
the more level-headed people of the place; and having rioted, gambled,
and committed every sort of extravagance for about three weeks, the
majority of L'Olonnois' rascally crew found themselves as poor as when
they had started off on their expedition. It took them almost as long to
divide their spoils as it did to get rid of them.

As these precious rascals had now nothing to live upon, it was necessary
to start out again and commit some more acts of robbery and ruin; and
L'Olonnois, whose rapacious mind seems to have been filled with a desire
for town-destroying, projected an expedition to Nicaragua, where he
proposed to pillage and devastate as many towns and villages as
possible. His reputation as a successful commander was now so high that
he had no trouble in getting men, for more offered themselves than he
could possibly take.

He departed with seven hundred men and six ships, stopping on the way
near the coast of Cuba, and robbing some poor fishermen of their boats,
which he would need in shallow water. Their voyage was a very long one,
and they were beset by calms, and instead of reaching Nicaragua, they
drifted into the Gulf of Honduras. Here they found themselves nearly out
of provisions, and were obliged to land and scour the country to find
something to eat. Leaving their ships, they began a land march through
the unfortunate region where they now found themselves. They robbed
Indians, they robbed villages; they devastated little towns, taking
everything that they cared for, and burning what they did not want, and
treating the people they captured with viler cruelties than any in which
the buccaneers had yet indulged. Their great object was to take
everything they could find, and then try to make the people confess
where other things were hidden. Men and women were hacked to pieces with
swords; it was L'Olonnois' pleasure, when a poor victim had nothing to
tell, to tear out his tongue with his own hands, and it is said that on
some occasions his fury was so great that he would cut out the heart of
a man and bite at it with his great teeth. No more dreadful miseries
could be conceived than those inflicted upon the peaceful inhabitants of
the country through which these wretches passed. They frequently met
ambuscades of Spaniards, who endeavored to stop their progress; but this
was impossible. The pirates were too strong in number and too savage in
disposition to be resisted by ordinary Christians, and they kept on
their wicked way.

At last they reached a town called San Pedro, which was fairly well
defended, having around it a great hedge of prickly thorns; but thorns
cannot keep out pirates, and after a severe fight the citizens
surrendered, on condition that they should have two hours' truce. This
was given, and the time was occupied by the people in running away into
the woods and carrying off their valuables. But when the two hours had
expired, L'Olonnois and his men entered the town, and instead of
rummaging around to see what they could find, they followed the
unfortunate people into the woods, for they well understood what they
wanted when they asked for a truce, and robbed them of nearly everything
they had taken away.

But the capture of this town was not of much service to L'Olonnois, who
did not find provisions enough to feed his men. Their supplies ran very
low, and it was not long before they were in danger of starvation.
Consequently they made their way by the most direct course to the coast,
where they hoped to be able to get something to eat. If they could find
nothing else, they might at least catch fish. On their way every rascal
of them prepared himself a net, made out of the fibres of a certain
plant, which grew in abundance in those regions, in order that he might
catch himself a supper when he reached the sea.

After a time the buccaneers got back to their fleet and remained on the
coast about three months, waiting for some expected Spanish ships, which
they hoped to capture. They eventually met with one, and after a great
deal of ordinary fighting and stratagem they boarded and took her, but
found her not a very valuable prize.

Now L'Olonnois proposed to his men that they should sail for Guatemala,
but he met with an unexpected obstacle; the buccaneers who had enlisted
under him had expected to make great fortunes in this expedition, but
their high hopes had not been realized. They had had very little booty
and very little food, they were hungry and disappointed and wanted to go
home, and the great majority of them declined to follow L'Olonnois any
farther. But there were some who declared that they would rather die
than go home to Tortuga as poor as when they left it, and so remained
with L'Olonnois on the biggest ship of the fleet, which he commanded.
The smaller vessels now departed for Tortuga, and after some trouble
L'Olonnois succeeded in getting his vessel out of the harbor where it
had been anchored, and sailed for the islands of de las Pertas. Here he
had the misfortune to run his big vessel hopelessly aground.

When they found it absolutely impossible to get their great vessel off
the sand banks, the pirates set to work to break her up and build a boat
out of her planks. This was a serious undertaking, but it was all they
could do. They could not swim away, and their ship was of no use to them
as she was. But when they began to work they had no idea it would take
so long to build a boat. It was several months before the unwieldy craft
was finished, and they occupied part of the time in gardening, planting
French beans, which came to maturity in six weeks, and gave them some
fresh vegetables. They also had some stores and portable stoves on board
their dismantled ship, and made bread from some wheat which was among
their provisions, thus managing to live very well.

L'Olonnois was never intended by nature to be a boat-builder, or
anything else that was useful and honest, and when the boat was finished
it was discovered that it had been planned so badly that it would not
hold them all, so all they could do was to draw lots to see who should
embark in her, for one-half of them would have to stay until the others
came back to release them. Of course L'Olonnois went away in the boat,
and reached the mouth of the Nicaragua River. There his party was
attacked by some Spaniards and Indians, who killed more than half of
them and prevented the others from landing. L'Olonnois and the rest of
his men got safely away, and they might now have sailed back to the
island where they had left their comrades, for there was room enough for
them all in the boat. But they did nothing of the sort, but went to the
coast of Cartagena.

The pirates left on the island were eventually taken off by a
buccaneering vessel, but L'Olonnois had now reached the end of the
string by which the devil had allowed him to gambol on this earth for so
long a time. On the shores where he had now landed he did not find
prosperous villages, treasure houses, and peaceful inhabitants, who
could be robbed and tortured, but instead of these he came upon a
community of Indians, who were called by the Spaniards, Bravos, or wild
men. These people would never have anything to do with the whites. It
was impossible to conquer them or to pacify them by kind treatment. They
hated the white man and would have nothing to do with him. They had
heard of L'Olonnois and his buccaneers, and when they found this
notorious pirate upon their shores they were filled with a fury such as
they had never felt for any others of his race.

These bloody pirates had always conquered in their desperate fights
because they were so reckless and so savage, but now they had fallen
among thoroughbred savages, more cruel and more brutal and pitiless than
themselves. Nearly all the buccaneers were killed, and L'Olonnois was
taken prisoner. His furious captors tore his living body apart, piece by
piece, and threw each fragment into the fire, and when the whole of this
most inhuman of inhuman men had been entirely consumed, they scattered
his ashes to the winds so that not a trace should remain on earth of
this monster. If, in his infancy, he had died of croup, the history of
the human race would have lost some of its blackest pages.




Chapter XVI

A Pirate Potentate


Sometime in the last half of the seventeenth century on a quiet farm in
a secluded part of Wales there was born a little boy baby. His father
was a farmer, and his mother churned, and tended the cows and the
chickens, and there was no reason to imagine that this gentle little
baby, born and reared in this rural solitude, would become one of the
most formidable pirates that the world ever knew. Yet such was the case.

The baby's name was Henry Morgan, and as he grew to be a big boy a
distaste for farming grew with him. So strong was his dislike that when
he became a young man he ran away to the seacoast, for he had a fancy to
be a sailor. There he found a ship bound for the West Indies, and in
this he started out on his life's career. He had no money to pay his
passage, and he therefore followed the usual custom of those days and
sold himself for a term of three years to an agent who was taking out a
number of men to work on the plantations. In the places where these men
were enlisted they were termed servants, but when they got to the new
world they were generally called slaves and treated as such.

When young Morgan reached the Barbadoes he was resold to a planter, and
during his term of service he probably worked a good deal harder and was
treated much more roughly than any of the laborers on his father's farm.
But as soon as he was a free man he went to Jamaica, and there were few
places in the world where a young man could be more free and more
independent than in this lawless island.

Here were rollicking and blustering "flibustiers," and here the young
man determined to study piracy. He was not a sailor and hunter who by
the force of circumstances gradually became a buccaneer, but he
deliberately selected his profession, and immediately set to work to
acquire a knowledge of its practice. There was a buccaneer ship about to
sail from Jamaica, and on this Morgan enlisted. He was a clever fellow
and very soon showed himself to be a brave and able sailor.

After three or four voyages he acquired a reputation for remarkable
coolness in emergencies, and showed an ability to take advantage of
favorable circumstances, which was not possessed by many of his
comrades. These prominent traits in his character became the foundation
of his success. He also proved himself a very good business man, and
having saved a considerable amount of money he joined with some other
buccaneers and bought a ship, of which he took command. This ship soon
made itself a scourge in the Spanish seas; no other buccaneering vessel
was so widely known and so greatly feared, and the English people in
these regions were as proud of the young Captain Morgan as if he had
been a regularly commissioned admiral, cruising against an acknowledged
enemy.

Returning from one of his voyages Morgan found an old buccaneer, named
Mansvelt, in Jamaica, who had gathered together a fleet of vessels with
which he was about to sail for the mainland. This expedition seemed a
promising one to Morgan, and he joined it, being elected vice-admiral of
the fleet of fifteen vessels. Since the successes of L'Olonnois and
others, attacks upon towns had become very popular with the buccaneers,
whose leaders were getting to be tired of the retail branch of their
business; that is, sailing about in one ship and capturing such
merchantmen as it might fall in with.

Mansvelt's expedition took with it not only six hundred fighting
pirates, but one writing pirate, for John Esquemeling accompanied it,
and so far as the fame and reputation of these adventurers was concerned
his pen was mightier than their swords, for had it not been for his
account of their deeds very little about them would have been known to
the world.

The fleet sailed directly for St. Catherine, an island near Costa Rica,
which was strongly fortified by the Spaniards and used by them as a
station for ammunition and supplies, and also as a prison. The pirates
landed upon the island and made a most furious assault upon the
fortifications, and although they were built of stone and well furnished
with cannon, the savage assailants met with their usual good fortune.
They swarmed over the walls and carried the place at the edge of the
cutlass and the mouth of the pistol. In this fierce fight Morgan
performed such feats of valor that even some of the Spaniards who had
been taken prisoners, were forced to praise his extraordinary courage
and ability as a leader.

The buccaneers proceeded to make very good use of their victory. They
captured some small adjoining islands and brought the cannon from them
to the main fortress, which they put in a good condition of defence.
Here they confined all their prisoners and slaves, and supplied the
island with an abundance of stores and provisions.

It is believed that when Mansvelt formed the plan of capturing this
island he did so with the idea of founding there a permanent pirate
principality, the inhabitants of which should not consider themselves
English, French, or Dutch, but plain pirates, having a nationality and
country of their own. Had the seed thus planted by Mansvelt and Morgan
grown and matured, it is not unlikely that the whole of the West Indies
might now be owned and inhabited by an independent nation, whose
founders were the bold buccaneers.

When everything had been made tight and right at St. Catherine, Mansvelt
and Morgan sailed for the mainland, for the purpose of attacking an
inland town called Nata, but in this expedition they were not
successful. The Spanish Governor of the province had heard of their
approach, and met them with a body of soldiers so large that they
prudently gave up the attempt,--a proceeding not very common with them,
but Morgan was not only a dare-devil of a pirate, but a very shrewd
Welshman.

They returned to the ships, and after touching at St. Catherine and
leaving there enough men to defend it, under the command of a Frenchman
named Le Sieur Simon, they sailed for Jamaica. Everything at St.
Catherine was arranged for permanent occupation; there was plenty of
fresh water, and the ground could be cultivated, and Simon was promised
that additional forces should be sent him so that he could hold the
island as a regular station for the assembling and fitting out of pirate
vessels.

The permanent pirate colony never came to anything; no reenforcements
were sent; Mansvelt died, and the Spaniards gathered together a
sufficient force to retake the island of St. Catherine, and make
prisoners of Simon and his men. This was a blow to Morgan, who had had
great hopes of the fortified station he thought he had so firmly
established, but after the project failed he set about forming another
expedition.

He was now recognized as buccaneer-in-chief of the West Indies, and he
very soon gathered together twelve ships and seven hundred men.
Everything was made ready to sail, and the only thing left to be done
was to decide what particular place they should favor with a visit.

There were some who advised an attack upon Havana, giving as a reason
that in that city there were a great many nuns, monks, and priests, and
if they could capture them, they might ask as ransom for them, a sum a
great deal larger than they could expect to get from the pillage of an
ordinary town. But Havana was considered to be too strong a place for a
profitable venture, and after several suggestions had been made, at last
a deserter from the Spanish army, who had joined them, came forward with
a good idea. He told the pirates of a town in Cuba, to which he knew the
way; it was named Port-au-Prince, and was situated so far inland that it
had never been sacked. When the pirates heard that there existed an
entirely fresh and unpillaged town, they were filled with as much
excited delight as if they had been a party of school-boys who had just
been told where they might find a tree full of ripe apples which had
been overlooked by the men who had been gathering the crop.

When Morgan's fleet arrived at the nearest harbor to Port-au-Prince, he
landed his men and marched toward the town, but he did not succeed in
making a secret attack, as he had hoped. One of his prisoners, a
Spaniard, let himself drop overboard as soon as the vessels cast anchor,
and swimming ashore, hurried to Port-au-Prince and informed the Governor
of the attack which was about to be made on the town. Thus prepared,
this able commander knew just what to do. He marched a body of soldiers
along the road by which the pirates must come, and when he found a
suitable spot he caused great trees to be cut down and laid across the
road, thus making a formidable barricade. Behind this his soldiers were
posted with their muskets and their cannon, and when the pirates should
arrive they would find that they would have to do some extraordinary
fighting before they could pass this well-defended barrier.

When Morgan came within sight of this barricade, he understood that the
Spaniards had discovered his approach, and so he called a halt. He had
always been opposed to unnecessary work, and he considered that it would
be entirely unnecessary to attempt to disturb this admirable defence, so
he left the road, marched his men into the woods, led them entirely
around the barricades, and then, after proceeding a considerable
distance, emerged upon a wide plain which lay before the town. Here he
found that he would have to fight his way into the city, and, probably
much to his surprise, his men were presently charged by a body of
cavalry.

Pirates, as a rule, have nothing to do with horses, either in peace or
war, and the Governor of the town no doubt thought that when his
well-armed horsemen charged upon these men, accustomed to fighting on
the decks of ships, and totally unused to cavalry combats, he would soon
scatter and disperse them. But pirates are peculiar fighters; if they
had been attacked from above by means of balloons, or from below by
mines and explosives, they would doubtless have adapted their style of
defence to the method of attack. They always did this, and according to
Esquemeling they nearly always got the better of their enemies; but we
must remember that in cases where they did not succeed, as happened when
they marched against the town of Nata, he says very little about the
affair and amplifies only the accounts of their successes.

But the pirates routed the horsemen, and, after a fight of about four
hours, they routed all the other Spaniards who resisted them, and took
possession of the town. Here they captured a great many prisoners which
they shut up in the churches and then sent detachments out into the
country to look for those who had run away. Then these utterly debased
and cruel men began their usual course after capturing a town; they
pillaged, feasted, and rioted; they gave no thought to the needs of the
prisoners whom they had shut up in the churches, many of whom starved to
death; they tortured the poor people to make them tell where they had
hid their treasures, and nothing was too vile or too wicked for them to
do if they thought they could profit by it. They had come for the
express purpose of taking everything that the people possessed, and
until they had forced from them all that was of the slightest value,
they were not satisfied. Even when the poor citizens seemed to have
given up everything they owned they were informed that if they did not
pay two heavy ransoms, one to protect themselves from being carried away
into slavery, and one to keep their town from being burned, the same
punishments would be inflicted upon them.

For two weeks the pirates waited for the unfortunate citizens to go out
into the country and find some of their townsmen who had escaped with a
portion of their treasure. In those days people did not keep their
wealth in banks as they do now, but every man was the custodian of most
of his own possessions, and when they fled from the visitation of an
enemy they took with them everything of value that they could carry. If
their fortunes had been deposited in banks, it would doubtless have been
more convenient for the pirates.

Before the citizens returned Morgan made a discovery: a negro was
captured who carried letters from the Governor of Santiago, a
neighboring city, to some of the citizens of Port-au-Prince, telling
them not to be in too great a hurry to pay the ransom demanded by the
pirates, because he was coming with a strong force to their assistance.
When Morgan read these letters, he changed his mind, and thought it
would be a wise thing not to stay in that region any longer than could
be helped. So he decided not to wait for the unfortunate citizens to
collect the heavy ransom he demanded, but told them that if they would
furnish him with five hundred head of cattle, and also supply salt and
help prepare the meat for shipment, he would make no further demands
upon them. This, of course, the citizens were glad enough to do, and
when the buccaneers had carried to the ships everything they had stolen,
and when the beef had been put on board, they sailed away.

Morgan directed the course of the fleet to a small island on which he
wished to land in order that they might take an account of stock and
divide the profits. This the pirates always did as soon as possible
after they had concluded one of their nefarious enterprises. But his men
were not at all satisfied with what happened on the island. Morgan
estimated the total value of the booty to be about fifty thousand
dollars, and when this comparatively small sum was divided, many of the
men complained that it would not give them enough to pay their debts in
Jamaica. They were utterly astonished that after having sacked an
entirely fresh town they should have so little, and there is no doubt
that many of them believed that their leader was a man who carried on
the business of piracy for the purpose of enriching himself, while he
gave his followers barely enough to keep them quiet.

There was, however, another cause of discontent among a large body of
the men; it appears that the men were very fond of marrow-bones, and
while they were yet at Port-au-Prince and the prisoners were salting the
meat which was to go on the ships, the buccaneers went about among them
and took the marrow-bones which they cooked and ate while they were
fresh. One of the men, a Frenchman, had selected a very fine bone, and
had put it by his side while he was preparing some other tidbits, when
an Englishman came along, picked up the bone, and carried it away.

Now even in the chronicles of Mother Goose we are told of the intimate
connection between Welshmen, thievery, and marrow-bones; for

    "Taffy was a Welshman,
      Taffy was a thief,
    Taffy came to my house
      And stole a leg of beef.

    "I went to Taffy's house,
      Taffy wasn't home,
    Taffy went to my house,
      And stole a marrow-bone."

What happened to Taffy we do not know, but Morgan was a Welshman, Morgan
was a thief, and one of his men had stolen a marrow-bone; therefore came
trouble. The Frenchman challenged the Englishman; but the latter, being
a mean scoundrel, took advantage of his opponent, unfairly stabbed him
in the back and killed him.

Now all the Frenchmen in the company rose in furious protest, and
Morgan, wishing to pacify them, had the English assassin put in chains,
and promised that he would take him to Jamaica and deliver him to
justice. But the Frenchmen declined to be satisfied; they had received
but very little money after they had pillaged a rich town, and they
believed that their English companions were inclined to take advantage
of them in every way, and consequently the greater part of them banded
together and deliberately deserted Morgan, who was obliged to go back to
Jamaica with not more than half his regular forces, doubtless wishing
that the cattle on the island of Cuba had been able to get along without
marrow-bones.




Chapter XVII

How Morgan was helped by Some Religious People


When the Welsh buccaneer started out on another expedition his company
consisted entirely of Englishmen, and was not nearly so large as it had
been; when he announced to his followers that he intended to attack the
fortified town of Porto Bello, on the mainland, there was a general
murmuring among the men, for Porto Bello was one of the strongest towns
possessed by the Spaniards, and the buccaneers did not believe that
their comparatively small force would be able to take it. But Morgan
made them a speech in which he endeavored to encourage them to follow
him in this difficult undertaking. One of his arguments was, that
although their numbers were small, their hearts were large; but he
produced the greatest effect upon them when he said that as they were
but a few, each man's share of the booty would be much larger than if it
must be divided among a great number. This touched the souls of the
pirates, and they vowed to follow their leader wherever he might take
them.

The buccaneers found Porto Bello a very hard nut to crack; they landed
and marched upon the town, which was defended by several forts or
castles. Even when one of these had been taken by assault, and after it
had been blown up with all its garrison, who had been taken prisoners,
still the town was not intimidated, and the Governor vowed he would
never surrender, but would die fighting to the last. The pirates raged
like demons; they shot down every man they could see at the cannon or
upon the walls, and they made desperate efforts to capture the principal
fort, but they did not succeed, and after a long time Morgan began to
despair. The garrison was strong and well commanded, and whenever the
pirates attempted to scale the wall they were shot down, while fire-pots
full of powder, with stones and other missiles, were hurled upon them.

At last the wily Morgan had an idea. He set his men to work to make some
ladders high enough to reach to the top of the walls, and wide enough to
allow three or four men to go up abreast. If he could get these properly
set up, his crew of desperate tiger-cats could make a combined rush and
get over the walls. But to carry the ladders and place them would be
almost impossible, for the men who bore them would surely be shot down
before they could finish the work. But it was not Morgan's plan that his
men should carry these ladders. He had captured some convents in the
suburbs of the town, with a number of nuns and monks, known as
"religious people," and he now ordered these poor creatures, the women
as well as the men, to take up the ladders and place them against the
walls, believing that the Spanish Governor would not allow his soldiers
to fire at these innocent persons whom the pirates had forced to do
their will.

But the Governor was determined to defend the town no matter who had to
suffer, and so the soldiers fired at the nuns and monks just as though
they were buccaneers or any other enemies. The "religious people" cried
out in terror, and screamed to their friends not to fire upon them; but
the soldiers obeyed the commands of the Governor, while the pirates were
swearing terribly behind them and threatening them with their pistols,
and so the poor nuns and monks had to press forward, many of them
dropping dead or wounded. They continued their work until the ladders
were placed, and then over the walls went the pirates, with yells and
howls of triumph, and not long after that the town was taken. The
Governor died, fighting in the principal fort, and the citizens and
soldiers all united in the most vigorous defence; but it was of no use.
Each pirate seemed to have not only nine lives, but nine arms, each one
wielding a cutlass or aiming a pistol.

When the fighting was over, the second act in the horrible drama took
place as usual. The pirates ate, drank, rioted, and committed all manner
of outrages and cruelties upon the inhabitants, closing the performance
with the customary threat that if the already distressed and
impoverished inhabitants did not pay an enormous ransom, their town
would be burned.

Before the ransom was paid, the Governor of Panama heard what was going
on at Porto Bello, and sent a force to the assistance of the town, but
this time the buccaneers did not hastily retreat, Morgan knew of a
narrow defile through which the Spanish forces must pass, and there he
posted a number of his men, who defended the pass so well that the
Spaniards were obliged to retreat. This Governor must have been a
student of military science; he was utterly astounded when he heard that
this pirate leader, with less than four hundred men, had captured the
redoubtable town of Porto Bello, defended by a strong garrison and
inhabited by citizens who were brave and accustomed to fighting, and,
being anxious to increase his knowledge of improved methods of warfare,
he sent a messenger to Morgan "desiring him to send him some small
pattern of those arms wherewith he had taken with such violence so great
a city." The pirate leader received the messenger with much courtesy,
and sent to the Governor a pistol and a few balls, "desiring him to
accept that slender pattern of the arms wherewith he had taken Porto
Bello, and keep them for a twelvemonth; after which time he promised to
come to Panama and fetch them away."

This courteous correspondence was continued by the Governor returning
the pistol and balls with thanks, and also sending Morgan a handsome
gold ring with the message that he need not trouble himself to come to
Panama; for, if he did, he would meet with very different fortune from
that which had come to him at Porto Bello.

Morgan put the ring on his finger and postponed his reply, and, as soon
as the ransom was paid, he put his booty on board his ships and
departed. When the spoils of Porto Bello came to be counted, it was
found that they were of great value, and each man received a lordly
share.

When Captain Morgan was ready to set out on another expedition, he found
plenty of pirates ready to join him, and he commanded all the ships and
men whom he enlisted to rendezvous at a place called the Isle of Cows. A
fine, large, English ship had recently come to Jamaica from New England,
and this vessel also joined Morgan's forces on the island, where the
pirate leader took this ship as his own, being much the best and largest
vessel of the fleet.

Besides the ships belonging to Morgan, there was in the harbor where
they were now congregated, a fine vessel belonging to some French
buccaneers, and Morgan desired very much that this vessel should join
his fleet, but the French cherished hard feelings against the English,
and would not join them.

Although Morgan was a brave man, his meanness was quite equal to his
courage, and he determined to be revenged upon these Frenchmen who had
refused to give him their aid, and therefore played a malicious trick
upon them. Sometime before, this French vessel, being out of provisions
when upon the high seas, had met an English ship, and had taken from her
such supplies as it had needed. The captain did not pay for these, being
out of money as well as food, not an uncommon thing among buccaneers,
but they gave the English notes of exchange payable in Jamaica; but as
these notes were never honored, the people of the English ship had never
been paid for their provisions.

This affair properly arranged in Morgan's mind, he sent a very polite
note to the captain of the French ship and some of his officers,
inviting them to dine with him on his own vessel. The French accepted
the invitation, but when Morgan received them on board his ship he did
not conduct them down to dinner; instead of that, he began to upbraid
them for the manner in which they had treated an English crew, and then
he ordered them to be taken down below and imprisoned in the hold.
Having accomplished this, and feeling greatly elated by this piece of
sly vengeance, he went into his fine cabin, and he and his officers sat
down to the grand feast he had prepared.

There were fine times on board this great English ship; the pirates were
about to set forth on an important expedition, and they celebrated the
occasion by eating and drinking, firing guns, and all manner of riotous
hilarity. In the midst of the wild festivities--and nobody knew how it
happened--a spark of fire got into the powder magazine, and the ship
blew up, sending the lifeless bodies of three hundred English sailors,
and the French prisoners, high into the air. The only persons on board
who escaped were Morgan and his officers who were in the cabin close to
the stern of the vessel, at some distance from the magazine.

This terrible accident threw the pirate fleet into great confusion for a
time; but Morgan soon recovered himself, and, casting about to see what
was the best thing to be done, it came into his head that he would act
the part of the wolf in the fable of the wolf and the lamb. As there
was no way of finding out how the magazine happened to explode, he took
the ground that the French prisoners whom he had shut up in the hold,
had thrown a lighted match into the magazine, wishing thus to revenge
themselves even though they should, at the same time, lose their own
lives. The people of the French ship bitterly opposed any such view of
the case, but their protestations were of no use; they might declare as
much as they pleased that it was impossible for them to make the waters
muddy, being lower down in the stream than the wolfish pirate who was
accusing them, but it availed nothing. Morgan sprang upon them and their
ship, and sent them to Jamaica, where, upon his false charge, they were
shut up in prison, and so remained for a long time.

Such atrocious wickedness as the treatment of the nuns and monks,
described in this chapter, would never have been countenanced in any
warfare between civilized nations. But Morgan's pirates were not making
war; they were robbers and murderers on a grand scale. They had no right
to call themselves civilized; they were worse than barbarians.

[Illustration: "Morgan began to upbraid them, and ordered them taken
below."--p. 151.]




Chapter XVIII

A Piratical Aftermath


Morgan's destination was the isle of Savona, near which a great Spanish
fleet was expected to pass, and here he hoped to make some rich prizes.
But when he got out to sea he met with contrary and dangerous winds,
which delayed him a long time, and eventually when he arrived at Savona,
after having landed at various places, where he pillaged, murdered, and
burned, according to the extent of his opportunities, he found at least
one-half of his men and ships had not arrived. With the small force
which he now had with him he could not set out to attack a Spanish
fleet, and therefore he was glad to accept the suggestion made to him by
a Frenchman who happened to be in his company.

This man had been with L'Olonnois two years before when that bloody
pirate had sacked the towns of Maracaibo and Gibraltar; he had made
himself perfectly familiar with the fortifications and defences of these
towns, and he told Morgan that it would be easy to take them. To be
sure they had been thoroughly sacked before, and therefore did not offer
the tempting inducements of perfectly fresh towns, such as
Port-au-Prince, but still in two years the inhabitants must have
gathered together some possessions desirable to pirates, and therefore,
although Morgan could not go to these towns with the expectation of
reaping a full harvest, he might at least gather up an aftermath which
would pay him for his trouble.

So away sailed this horde of ravenous scoundrels for the lake of
Maracaibo, at the outer end of which lay the town of Maracaibo, and at
the other extremity the town of Gibraltar. When they had sailed near
enough to the fortifications they anchored out of sight of the
watch-tower and, landing in the night, marched on one of the forts. Here
the career of Morgan came very near closing forever. The Spaniards had
discovered the approach of the pirates, and this fort had been converted
into a great trap in which the citizens hoped to capture and destroy the
pirate leader and his men. Everybody had left the fort, the gates were
open, and a slow-match, communicating with the magazine, had been
lighted just before the last Spaniard had left.

But the oldest and most sagacious of rats would be no more difficult to
entrap than was the wily pirate Morgan. When he entered the open gates
of the fort and found everything in perfect order, he suspected a trick,
and looking about him he soon saw the smouldering match. Instantly he
made a dash at it, seized it and extinguished the fire. Had he been
delayed in this discovery a quarter of an hour longer, he and his men
would have been blown to pieces along with the fort.

Now the pirates pressed on toward the town, but they met with no
resistance. The Spaniards, having failed to blow up their dreaded
enemies, had retreated into the surrounding country and had left the
town. The triumphant pirates spread themselves everywhere. They searched
the abandoned town for people and valuables, and every man who cared to
do so took one of the empty houses for his private residence. They made
the church the common meeting-place where they might all gather together
when it was necessary, and when they had spent the night in eating and
drinking all the good things they could find, they set out the next day
to hunt for the fugitive citizens.

For three weeks Morgan and his men held a devil's carnival in Maracaibo.
To tell of the abominable tortures and cruelties which they inflicted
upon the poor people, whom they dragged from their hiding-places in the
surrounding country, would make our flesh creep and our blood run cold.
When they could do no more evil they sailed away up the lake for
Gibraltar.

It is not necessary to tell the story of the taking of this town. When
Morgan arrived there he found it also entirely deserted. The awful dread
of the human beasts who were coming upon them had forced the inhabitants
to fly. In the whole town only one man was left, and he was an idiot who
had not sense enough to run away. This poor fellow was tortured to tell
where his treasures were hid, and when he consented to take them to the
place where he had concealed his possessions, they found a few broken
earthen dishes, and a little bit of money, about as much as a poor
imbecile might be supposed to possess. Thereupon the disappointed fiends
cruelly killed him.

For five weeks the country surrounding Gibraltar was the scene of a
series of diabolical horrors. The pirates undertook the most hazardous
and difficult expeditions in order to find the people who had hidden
themselves on islands and in the mountains, and although they obtained a
great deal of booty, they met with a good many misfortunes. Some of them
were drowned in swollen streams, and others lost much of their pillage
by rains and storms.

At last, after having closed his vile proceedings in the ordinary pirate
fashion, by threatening to burn the town if he were not paid a ransom,
Morgan thought it time for him to depart, for if the Spaniards should
collect a sufficient force at Maracaibo to keep him from getting out of
the lake, he would indeed be caught in a trap. The ransom was partly
paid and partly promised, and Morgan and his men departed, carrying with
them some hostages for the rest of the ransom due.

When Morgan and his fleet arrived at Maracaibo, they found the town
still deserted, but they also discovered that they were caught in the
trap which they had feared, out of which they saw no way of escaping.
News had been sent the Spanish forces; of the capture and sacking of
Maracaibo, and three large men-of-war now lay in the channel below the
town which led from the lake into the sea. And more than this, the
castle which defended the entrance to the lake, and which the pirates
had found empty when they arrived, was now well manned and supplied with
a great many cannon, so that for once in their lives these wicked
buccaneers were almost discouraged. Their little ships could not stand
against the men-of-war; and in any case they could not pass the castle,
which was now prepared to blow them to pieces if they should come near
enough.

But in the midst of these disheartening circumstances, the pirate leader
showed what an arrogant, blustering dare-devil he was, for, instead of
admitting his discomfiture and trying to make terms with the Spaniards,
he sent a letter to the admiral of the ships, in which he stated that if
he did not allow him a free passage out to sea he would burn every house
in Maracaibo. To this insolent threat, the Spanish admiral replied in a
long letter, in which he told Morgan that if he attempted to leave the
lake he would fire upon his ships, and, if necessary, follow them out to
sea, until not a stick of one of them should be left. But in the great
magnanimity of his soul he declared that he would allow Morgan to sail
away freely, provided he would deliver all the booty he had captured,
together with the prisoners and slaves, and promise to go home and
abandon buccaneering forever. In case he declined these terms, the
admiral declared he would come up the channel in boats filled with his
soldiers and put every pirate to the sword.

When Morgan received this letter, he called his men together in the
public square of the town, and asked them what they would do, and when
these fellows heard that they were asked to give up all their booty,
they unanimously voted that they would perish rather than do such an
unmanly thing as that. So it was agreed that they would fight themselves
out of the lake of Maracaibo, or stay there, dead or alive, as the case
might be.




Chapter XIX

A Tight Place for Morgan


At this important crisis again turned up the man with an idea. This was
an inventive buccaneer, who proposed to Morgan that they should take a
medium-sized ship which they had captured at the other end of the lake,
and make a fire-ship of her. In order that the Spaniards might not
suspect the character of this incendiary craft, he proposed that they
should fit her up like one of the pirate war-vessels, for in this case
the Spaniards would not try to get away from her, but would be glad to
have her come near enough for them to capture her.

Morgan was pleased with this plan, and the fire-ship was prepared with
all haste. All the pitch, tar, and brimstone in the town were put on
board of her, together with other combustibles. On the deck were placed
logs of wood, which were dressed up in coats and hats to look like men,
and by their sides were muskets and cutlasses. Portholes were made, and
in these were placed other logs to represent cannon. Thus this merchant
vessel, now as inflammable as a pine knot, was made to resemble a
somewhat formidable pirate ship. The rest of the fleet was made ready,
the valuables and prisoners and slaves were put on board; and they all
sailed boldly down toward the Spanish vessels, the fire-ship in front.

When the Spanish admiral saw this insignificant fleet approaching, he
made ready to sink it to the bottom, and when the leading vessel made
its way directly toward his own ship, as if with the impudent intention
of boarding her, he did not fire at her, but let her come on. The few
pirates on board the fire-ship ran her up against the side of the great
man-of-war; and after making her fast and applying their matches, they
immediately slipped overboard, and swam to one of their own vessels
before the Spaniards had an idea of what had happened. The fire-ship was
soon ablaze, and as the flames quickly spread, the large vessel took
fire, and the people on board had scarcely time to get out of her before
she sank.

The commander of one of the other ships was so much frightened by what
had occurred in so short a space of time that he ran his vessel aground
and wrecked her, her men jumping out into the water and making for the
land. As for the other ship, the pirates boldly attacked her and
captured her, and as she was a very fine vessel, Morgan left his own
small vessel, in which he had been commanding his fleet, and took
possession of her. Thus, in a very short time, the whole state of
affairs was changed. The Spaniards had no ships at all, and Morgan was
in command of a very fine vessel, in which he led his triumphant fleet.

Victory is a grand thing to a pirate as it is to every human being who
has been engaged in a conflict, but none of the joys of triumph could
equal the sordid rapacity of Morgan and his men. They spent days in
trying to recover the money and plate which were on board the sunken
Spanish ships. The sterns of these projected above water, and a great
deal of valuable treasure was recovered from them. The pirates worked
very hard at this, although they had not the slightest idea how they
were to pass the castle and get away with the plunder after they had
obtained it.

When the wrecks had been stripped of everything of value, the time came
for demanding a ransom for not burning the town and hanging the
prisoners, and as the poor citizens knew very well what they might
expect, they sent word to the admiral, who had escaped to the castle,
begging him to accede to the demands of Morgan, and to let the wretched
pirates go. But the admiral, Don Alonso, was a thoroughbred Spaniard,
and he would listen to no such cowardly suggestion. He would consent to
no ransom being paid, and on no account would he allow the pirates to
pass the channel. The citizens, however, who knew what was good for
them, raised the money, and paid the ransom in coin and cattle, and
Morgan declared that if the admiral would not let him out of the lake,
he would have to attend to that matter himself.

But before he made another bold stroke against the enemy his stingy and
niggardly spirit urged him to defend himself against his friends, and
before endeavoring to leave he ordered a division of the spoils. Many of
the goods taken from the two towns were on board the different vessels
of the fleet, and he was very much afraid that if his comrades, who
commanded the other ships, should be so fortunate as to get out to sea,
they would sail away with the booty they carried, and he would not see
any of it. Therefore, the booty from every ship was brought on board his
own fine vessel, and every man was put through an examination as rigid
as if he had been passing a custom house, and was obliged to prove that
he had not concealed or kept back any money or jewels. The value of the
plunder was very great, and when it had been divided, according to the
scale which Morgan had adopted, the pirate leader felt safe. He now had
his share of the prizes in his own possession, and that to him was more
important than anything else in the world.

The question of getting away was a very serious one; the greater part of
his fleet consisted of small vessels which could not defy the guns of
the fort, and as the stout hearts and brawny arms of his followers could
be of no use to him in this dilemma, Morgan was obliged to fall back
upon his own brains; therefore, he planned a trick.

When everything had been prepared for departure, Morgan anchored his
fleet at a distance from the castle, but not so far away that the
Spaniards could not observe his movements. Then he loaded some boats
with armed men and had them rowed ashore on the side of the channel on
which the castle stood. The boats landed behind a little wood, and there
the men, instead of getting out, crouched themselves down in the bottom
of the boats so that they should not be seen. Then the boats, apparently
empty, were rowed back to the pirate ships, and in a short time, again
full of men sitting, upright, with their muskets and cutlasses, they
went to the shore, and soon afterwards returned apparently empty as
before.

This performance was repeated over and over again, until the people in
the castle were convinced that Morgan was putting his men on shore in
order to make a land attack upon the rear of the castle during the
night. But the Spanish admiral was not to be caught by any such clumsy
stratagem as that, and, therefore, in great haste he had his big cannon
moved to the land side of the fort, and posted there the greater part of
his garrison in order that when the pirates made their assault in the
dead of the night they would meet with a reception for which they had
not bargained.

When it was dark, and the tide began to run out, the pirate vessels
weighed anchor, and they all drifted down toward the castle. Morgan's
spies had perceived some of the extraordinary movements in the Spanish
fortifications, and he therefore drifted down with a good deal of
confidence, although, had his trick been discovered in time it would
have gone very hard with his fleet. It is probable that he had taken all
these chances into consideration and had felt pretty sure that if the
cannon of the fort had been opened upon them it would not have been the
big ship which carried him and his precious load which would have been
sunk by the great guns, and that no matter what happened to the smaller
vessels and the men on board them, he and his own ship would be able to
sail away.

But the Spaniards did not perceive the approach of the drifting fleet,
for they were intrepidly waiting at the back of the castle to make it
very hot for the pirates when they should arrive. Slowly past the great
walls of the fort drifted the fleet of buccaneers, and then, at a
signal, every vessel hoisted its sails, and, with a good wind, sailed
rapidly toward the open sea. The last pirate vessel had scarcely passed
the fort when the Spaniards discovered what was going on, and in great
haste they rolled their cannon back to the water side of the fort and
began firing furiously, but it was of no use.

The pirates sailed on until they were out of danger, and then they
anchored and arranged for putting on shore the greater number of their
prisoners, who were only an encumbrance to them. As a parting insult,
Morgan fired seven or eight of his largest guns at the castle, whose
humiliated occupants did not reply by a single shot.

In order to understand what thoroughly contemptible scoundrels these
pirates were it may be stated that when Morgan and his men reached
Jamaica after a good deal of storm and trouble on the way, they found
there many of their comrades who had not been able to join them at their
rendezvous at Savona. These unfortunate fellows, who had not known where
Morgan had gone and were unable to join him, had endeavored to do some
piratical business of their own, but had had very little luck and a
great many misfortunes. Morgan's men, with their pockets full of money,
jeered and sneered at their poor comrades who had had such hard times,
and without any thought of sharing with them the least portion of their
own vile gains they treated them with contempt and derision.

The buccaneer, Captain Henry Morgan, was now a very great personage, but
with his next expedition, which was a very important one, and in its
extent resembled warfare rather than piracy, we shall have little to do
because his exploits in this case were not performed on our Atlantic
coasts, but over the Isthmus, on the shores of the Pacific.

Morgan raised a great fleet, carrying a little army of two thousand men,
and with this he made his way to the other side of the Isthmus and
attacked the city of Panama, which, of course, he captured. His terrible
deeds at this place resembled those which he performed after the capture
of the smaller towns which we have been considering, except that they
were on a scale of greater magnitude. Nearly the whole of the town of
Panama was burned, and the excesses, cruelties, and pillages of the
conquerors were something almost without parallel.

Before marching overland to Panama, Morgan had recaptured the island of
St. Catherine, which was a very valuable station for his purposes, and
had also taken the castle of Chagres on the mainland near by, and on his
return from the conquest and pillage of the unfortunate city he and his
forces gathered together at Chagres in order to divide the spoils.

Now came great trouble and dissatisfaction; many of the buccaneers
loudly declared that Morgan was taking everything that was really
valuable for his own, especially the precious stones and jewels, and
that they were getting a very small share of the booty of Panama. There
seemed to be good reason for these complaints, for the sum of about two
hundred dollars apiece was all that Morgan's men received after their
terrible hardships and dangers and the pillage of a very rich town. The
murmurings and complaints against Morgan's peculiar methods became
louder and more frequent, and at last the wily Welshman began to be
afraid that serious trouble would come to him if he did not take care of
himself. This, however, he was very capable of doing. Silently and
quietly one night, without giving notice to any of the buccaneers at
Chagres, except a few who were in his secret, Morgan, in his large ship,
sailed away for Jamaica, followed by only a few other vessels,
containing some of his favored companions.

When the great body of the buccaneers, the principal portion of which
were Frenchmen, found that their leader had deserted them, there was a
grand commotion, and if they had been able, the furious men who had had
this trick played upon them, would have followed Morgan to treat him as
they had so often treated the Spaniards. But they could not
follow--Morgan had taken great care that this should not happen. Their
ships were out of order; they had been left very short of provisions and
ammunition, and found that not only were they unable to avenge
themselves on their traitor leader, but that it would be very hard for
them to get away at all.

Poor Esquemeling, the literary pirate, was one of those who was left
behind, and in his doleful state he made the following reflection, which
we quote from his book: "Captain Morgan left us all in such a miserable
condition as might serve for a lively representation of what rewards
attend wickedness at the latter end of life. Whence we ought to have
learned how to regulate and amend our actions for the future."

After Morgan had safely reached Jamaica with all his booty, the idea
renewed itself in his mind of returning to St. Catherine, fortifying the
place and putting it in complete order, and then occupying it as a
station for all pirates, with himself the supreme governor and king of
the buccaneers. But before he had completed his arrangements for doing
this there was a change in the affairs at Jamaica: the king of England,
having listened to the complaints of the Spanish crown, had recalled the
former Governor and put him on trial to answer for the manner in which
he allowed the island to be used by the pirates for their wicked
purposes against a friendly nation, and had sent a new Governor with
orders to allow no buccaneers in Jamaica, and in every way to suppress
piracy in those parts.

Now the shrewd Morgan saw that his present business was likely to become
a very undesirable one, and he accordingly determined to give it up.
Having brutally pillaged and most cruelly treated the Spaniards as long
as he was able to do so, and having cheated and defrauded his friends
and companions to the utmost extent possible, he made up his mind to
reform, and a more thoroughly base and contemptible reformed scoundrel
was never seen on the face of the earth.

Morgan was now a rich man, and he lost no time in becoming very
respectable. He endeavored to win favor with the new Governor, and was
so successful that when that official was obliged to return to England
on account of his health, he left the ex-pirate in charge of the affairs
of the island in the capacity of Deputy-Governor. More than this, King
Charles, who apparently had heard of Morgan's great bravery and ability,
and had not cared to listen to anything else about him, knighted him,
and this preeminent and inhuman water-thief became Sir Henry Morgan.

In his new official capacity Morgan was very severe upon his former
associates, and when any of them were captured and brought before him,
he condemned some to be imprisoned and some to be hung, and in every
way apparently endeavored to break up the unlawful business of
buccaneering.

About this time John Esquemeling betook himself to Europe with all
possible despatch, for he had work to do and things to tell with which
the Deputy-Governor would have no sympathy whatever. He got away safely,
and he wrote his book, and if he had not had this good fortune, the
world would have lost a great part of the story of what happened to the
soft little baby who was born among the quiet green fields of Wales.

Even during the time that he was Deputy-Governor, Morgan was suspected
of sharing in the gains of some buccaneers at the same time that he
punished others, and after the death of Charles II. he was sent to
England and imprisoned, but what eventually became of him we do not
know. If he succeeded in ill-using and defrauding his Satanic Majesty,
there is no record of the fact.




Chapter XX

The Story of a High-Minded Pirate


After having considered the extraordinary performances of so many of
those execrable wretches, the buccaneers, it is refreshing and
satisfactory to find that there were exceptions even to the rules which
governed the conduct and general make-up of the ordinary pirate of the
period, and we are therefore glad enough to tell the story of a man,
who, although he was an out-and-out buccaneer, possessed some peculiar
characteristics which give him a place of his own in the history of
piracy.

In the early part of these sketches we have alluded to a gentleman of
France, who, having become deeply involved in debt, could see no way of
putting himself in a condition to pay his creditors but to go into
business of some kind. He had no mercantile education, he had not
learned any profession, and it was therefore necessary for him to do
something for which a previous preparation was not absolutely essential.

After having carefully considered all the methods of making money which
were open to him under the circumstances, he finally concluded to take
up piracy and literature. Even at the present day it is considered by
many persons that one of these branches of industry is a field of action
especially adapted to those who have not had the opportunity of giving
the time and study necessary in any other method of making a living.

The French gentleman whose adventures we are about to relate was a very
different man from John Esquemeling, who was a literary pirate and
nothing more. Being of a clerkly disposition, the gentle John did not
pretend to use the sabre or the pistol. His part in life was simply to
watch his companions fight, burn, and steal, while his only weapon was
his pen, with which he set down their exploits and thereby murdered
their reputations.

But Monsieur Raveneau de Lussan was both buccaneer and author, and when
he had finished his piratical career he wrote a book in which he gave a
full account of it, thus showing that although he had not been brought
up to a business life, he had very good ideas about money-making.

More than that, he had very good ideas about his own reputation, and
instead of leaving his exploits and adventures to be written up by other
people,--that is, if any one should think it worth while to do so,--he
took that business into his own hands. He was well educated, he had
been brought up in good society, and as he desired to return to that
society it was natural for him to wish to paint his own portrait as a
buccaneer. Pictures of that kind as they were ordinarily executed were
not at all agreeable to the eyes of the cultivated classes of France,
and so M. de Lussan determined to give his personal attention not only
to his business speculations, but to his reputation. He went out as a
buccaneer in order to rob the Spaniards of treasure with which to pay
his honest debts, and, in order to prevent his piratical career being
described in the coarse and disagreeable fashion in which people
generally wrote about pirates, he determined to write his own
adventures.

If a man wishes to appear well before the world, it is often a very good
thing for him to write his autobiography, especially if there is
anything a little shady in his career, and it may be that de Lussan's
reputation as a high-minded pirate depends somewhat on the book he wrote
after he had put down the sword and taken up the pen; but if he gave a
more pleasing color to his proceedings than they really deserved, we
ought to be glad of it. For, even if de Lussan the buccaneer was in some
degree a creature of the imagination of de Lussan the author, we have a
story which is much more pleasing and, in some respects, more romantic
than stories of ordinary pirates could possibly be made unless the
writer of such stories abandoned fact altogether and plunged blindly
into fiction.

Among the good qualities of de Lussan was a pious disposition. He had
always been a religious person, and, being a Catholic, he had a high
regard and veneration for religious buildings, for priests, and for the
services of the church, and when he had crossed the Atlantic in his
ship, the crew of which was composed of desperadoes of various nations,
and when he had landed upon the western continent, he wished still to
conform to the religious manners and customs of the old world.

Having a strong force under his command and possessing, in common with
most of the gentlemen of that period, a good military education, it was
not long after he landed on the mainland before he captured a small
town. The resistance which he met was soon overcome, and our high-minded
pirate found himself in the position of a conqueror with a community at
his mercy. As his piety now raised itself above all his other
attributes, the first thing that he did was to repair to the principal
church of the town, accompanied by all his men, and here, in accordance
with his commands, a Te Deum was sung and services were conducted by the
priests in charge. Then, after having properly performed his religious
duties, de Lussan sent his men through the town with orders to rob the
inhabitants of everything valuable they possessed.

The ransacking and pillaging of the houses continued for some time, but
when the last of his men had returned with the booty they had collected,
the high-minded chief was dissatisfied. The town appeared to be a good
deal poorer than he had expected, and as the collection seemed to be so
very small, de Lussan concluded that in some way or other he must pass
around the hat again. While he was wondering how he should do this he
happened to hear that on a sugar plantation not very far away from the
town there were some ladies of rank who, having heard of the approach of
the pirates, had taken refuge there, thinking that even if the town
should be captured, their savage enemies would not wander into the
country to look for spoils and victims.

But these ladies were greatly mistaken. When de Lussan heard where they
were, he sent out a body of men to make them prisoners and bring them
back to him. They might not have any money or jewels in their
possession, but as they belonged to good families who were probably
wealthy, a good deal of money could be made out of them by holding them
and demanding a heavy ransom for their release. So the ladies were all
brought to town and shut up securely until their friends and relatives
managed to raise enough money to pay their ransom and set them free, and
then, I have no doubt, de Lussan advised them to go to church and offer
up thanks for their happy deliverance.

As our high-minded pirate pursued his plundering way along the coast of
South America, he met with a good many things which jarred upon his
sensitive nature--things he had not expected when he started out on his
new career. One of his disappointments was occasioned by the manners and
customs of the English buccaneers under his command. These were very
different from the Frenchmen of his company, for they made not the
slightest pretence to piety.

When they had captured a town or a village, the Englishmen would go to
the churches, tear down the paintings, chop the ornaments from the
altars with their cutlasses, and steal the silver crucifixes, the
candlesticks, and even the communion services. Such conduct gave great
pain to de Lussan. To rob and destroy the property of churches was in
his eyes a great sin, and he never suffered anything of the kind if he
could prevent it. When he found in any place which he captured a wealthy
religious community or a richly furnished church, he scrupulously
refrained from taking anything or of doing damage to property, and
contented himself with demanding heavy indemnity, which the priests
were obliged to pay as a return for the pious exemption which he granted
them.

But it was very difficult to control the Englishmen. They would rob and
destroy a church as willingly as if it were the home of a peaceful
family, and although their conscientious commander did everything he
could to prevent their excesses, he did not always succeed. If he had
known what was likely to happen, his party would have consisted entirely
of Frenchmen.

Another thing which disappointed and annoyed the gentlemanly de Lussan
was the estimation in which the buccaneers were held by the ladies of
the country through which he was passing. He soon found that the women
in the Spanish settlements had the most horrible ideas regarding the
members of the famous "Brotherhood of the Coast." To be sure, all the
Spanish settlers, and a great part of the natives of the country, were
filled with horror and dismay whenever they heard that a company of
buccaneers was within a hundred miles of their homes, and it is not
surprising that this was the case, for the stories of the atrocities and
cruelties of these desperadoes had spread over the western world.

But the women of the settlements looked upon the buccaneers with greater
fear and abhorrence than the men could possibly feel, for the belief
was almost universal among them that buccaneers were terrible monsters
of cannibal habits who delighted in devouring human beings, especially
if they happened to be young and tender. This ignorance of the true
character of the invaders of the country was greatly deplored by de
Lussan. He had a most profound pity for those simple-minded persons who
had allowed themselves to be so deceived in regard to the real character
of himself and his men, and whenever he had an opportunity, he
endeavored to persuade the ladies who fell in his way that sooner than
eat a woman he would entirely abstain from food.

On one occasion, when politely conducting a young lady to a place of
confinement, where in company with other women of good family she was to
be shut up until their relatives could pay handsome ransoms for their
release, he was very much surprised when she suddenly turned to him with
tears in her eyes, and besought him not to devour her. This astonishing
speech so wounded the feelings of the gallant Frenchman that for a
moment he could not reply, and when he asked her what had put such an
unreasonable fear in her mind, she could only answer that she thought he
looked hungry, and that perhaps he would not be willing to wait
until--And there she stopped, for she could not bring her mind to
say--until she was properly prepared for the table.

"What!" exclaimed the high-minded pirate. "Do you suppose that I would
eat you in the street?" And as the poor girl, who was now crying, would
make him no answer, he fell into a sombre silence which continued until
they had reached their destination.

The cruel aspersions which were cast upon his character by the women of
the country were very galling to the chivalrous soul of this gentleman
of France, and in every way possible he endeavored to show the Spanish
ladies that their opinions of him were entirely incorrect, and even if
his men were rather a hard lot of fellows, they were not cannibals.

The high-minded pirate had now two principal objects before him. One was
to lay his hand upon all the treasure he could find, and the other was
to show the people of the country, especially the ladies, that he was a
gentleman of agreeable manners and a pious turn of mind.

It is highly probable that for some time the hero of this story did not
succeed in his first object as well as he would have liked. A great deal
of treasure was secured, but some of it consisted of property which
could not be easily turned into cash or carried away, and he had with
him a body of rapacious and conscienceless scoundrels who were
continually clamoring for as large a share of the available
spoils--such as jewels, money, and small articles of value--as they
could induce their commander to allow them, and, in consequence of this
greediness of his own men, his share of the plunder was not always as
large as it ought to be.

But in his other object he was very much more successful, and, in proof
of this, we have only to relate an interesting and remarkable adventure
which befell him. He laid siege to a large town, and, as the place was
well defended by fortifications and armed men, a severe battle took
place before it was captured. But at last the town was taken, and de
Lussan and his men having gone to church to give thanks for their
victory,--his Englishmen being obliged to attend the services no matter
what they did afterward,--he went diligently to work to gather from the
citizens their valuable and available possessions. In this way he was
brought into personal contact with a great many of the people of the
town, and among the acquaintances which he made was that of a young
Spanish lady of great beauty.

The conditions and circumstances in the midst of which this lady found
herself after the city had been taken, were very peculiar. She had been
the wife of one of the principal citizens, the treasurer of the town,
who was possessed of a large fortune, and who lived in one of the best
houses in the place; but during the battle with the buccaneers, her
husband, who fought bravely in defence of the place, was killed, and she
now found herself not only a widow, but a prisoner in the hands of those
ruthless pirates whose very name had struck terror into the hearts of
the Spanish settlers. Plunged into misery and despair, it was impossible
for her to foresee what was going to happen to her.

As has been said, the religious services in the church were immediately
followed by the pillage of the town; every house was visited, and the
trembling inhabitants were obliged to deliver up their treasures to the
savage fellows who tramped through their halls and rooms, swearing
savagely when they did not find as much as they expected, and laughing
with wild glee at any unusual discovery of jewels or coin.

The buccaneer officers as well as the men assisted in gathering in the
spoils of the town, and it so happened that M. Raveneau de Lussan, with
his good clothes and his jaunty hat with a feather in it, selected the
house of the late treasurer of the city as a suitable place for him to
make his investigations. He found there a great many valuable articles
and also found the beautiful young widow.

The effect produced upon the mind of the lady when the captain of the
buccaneers entered her house was a very surprising one. Instead of
beholding a savage, brutal ruffian, with ragged clothes and gleaming
teeth, she saw a handsome gentleman, as well dressed as circumstances
would permit, very polite in his manners, and with as great a desire to
transact his business without giving her any more inconvenience than was
necessary, as if he had been a tax-collector or had come to examine the
gas meter. If all the buccaneers were such agreeable men as this one,
she and her friends had been laboring under a great mistake.

De Lussan did not complete his examination of the treasurer's house in
one visit, and during the next two or three days the young widow not
only became acquainted with the character of buccaneers in general, but
she learned to know this particular buccaneer very well, and to find out
what an entirely different man he was from the savage fellows who
composed his company. She was grateful to him for his kind manner of
appropriating her possessions, she was greatly interested in his
society,--for he was a man of culture and information,--and in less than
three days she found herself very much in love with him. There was not a
man in the whole town who, in her opinion, could compare with this
gallant commander of buccaneers.

It was not very long before de Lussan became conscious of the favor he
had found in the eyes of this lady; for as a buccaneer could not be
expected to remain very long in one place, it was necessary, if this
lady wished the captor of her money and treasure to know that he had
also captured her heart, that she must not be slow in letting him know
the state of her affections, and being a young person of a very
practical mind she promptly informed de Lussan that she loved him and
desired him to marry her.

The gallant Frenchman was very much amazed when this proposition was
made to him, which was in the highest degree complimentary. It was very
attractive to him--but he could not understand it. The lady's husband
had been dead but a few days--he had assisted in having the unfortunate
gentleman properly buried--and it seemed to him very unnatural that the
young widow should be in such an extraordinary hurry to prepare a
marriage feast before the funeral baked meats had been cleared from the
table.

There was but one way in which he could explain to himself this
remarkable transition from grief to a new affection. He believed that
the people of this country were like their fruits and their flowers. The
oranges might fall from the trees, but the blossoms would still be
there. Husband and wives or lovers might die, but in the tropical hearts
of these people it was not necessary that new affections should be
formed, for they were already there, and needed only some one to receive
them.

As he did not undertake his present expedition for the purpose of
marrying ladies, no matter how beautiful they might be, it is quite
natural that de Lussan should not accept the proffered hand of the young
widow. But when she came to detail her plans, he found that it would be
well worth his while to carefully consider her project.

The lady was by no means a thoughtless young creature, carried away by a
sudden attachment. Before making known to de Lussan her preference for
him above all other men, she had given the subject her most careful and
earnest consideration, and had made plans which in her opinion would
enable the buccaneer captain and herself to settle the matter to the
satisfaction of all parties.

When de Lussan heard the lady's scheme, he was as much surprised by her
businesslike ability as he had been by the declaration of her affection
for him. She knew very well that he could not marry her and take her
with him. Moreover, she did not wish to go. She had no fancy for such
wild expeditions and such savage companions. Her plans were for peace
and comfort and a happy domestic life. In a word, she desired that the
handsome de Lussan should remain with her.

Of course the gentleman opened his eyes very wide when he heard this,
but she had a great deal to say upon the subject, and she had not
omitted any of the details which would be necessary for the success of
her scheme.

The lady knew just as well as the buccaneer captain knew that the men
under his command would not allow him to remain comfortably in that town
with his share of the plunder, while they went on without a leader to
undergo all sorts of hardships and dangers, perhaps defeat and death. If
he announced his intention of withdrawing from the band, his enraged
companions would probably kill him. Consequently a friendly separation
between himself and his buccaneer followers was a thing not to be
thought of, and she did not even propose it.

Her idea was a very different one. Just as soon as possible, that very
night, de Lussan was to slip quietly out of the town, and make his way
into the surrounding country. She would furnish him with a horse, and
tell him the way he should take, and he was not to stop until he had
reached a secluded spot, where she was quite sure the buccaneers would
not be able to find him, no matter how diligently they might search.
When they had entirely failed in every effort to discover their lost
captain, who they would probably suppose had been killed by wandering
Indians,--for it was impossible that he could have been murdered in the
town without their knowledge,--they would give him up as lost and press
on in search of further adventures.

When the buccaneers were far away, and all danger from their return had
entirely passed, then the brave and polite Frenchman, now no longer a
buccaneer, could safely return to the town, where the young widow would
be most happy to marry him, to lodge him in her handsome house, and to
make over to him all the large fortune and estates which had been the
property of her late husband.

This was a very attractive offer surely, a beautiful woman, and a
handsome fortune. But she offered more than this. She knew that a
gentleman who had once captured and despoiled the town might feel a
little delicacy in regard to marrying and settling there and becoming
one of its citizens, and therefore she was prepared to remove any
objections which might be occasioned by such considerate sentiments on
his part.

She assured him that if he would agree to her plan, she would use her
influence with the authorities, and would obtain for him the position of
city treasurer, which her husband had formerly held. And when he
declared that such an astounding performance must be utterly impossible,
she started out immediately, and having interviewed the Governor of the
town and other municipal officers, secured their signature to a paper in
which they promised that if M. de Lussan would accept the proposals
which the lady had made, he would be received most kindly by the
officers and citizens of the town; that the position of treasurer would
be given to him, and that all the promises of the lady should be made
good.

Now our high-minded pirate was thrown into a great quandary, and
although at first he had had no notion whatever of accepting the
pleasant proposition which had been made to him by the young widow, he
began to see that there were many good reasons why the affection, the
high position, and the unusual advantages which she had offered to him
might perhaps be the very best fortune which he could expect in this
world. In the first place, if he should marry this charming young
creature and settle down as a respected citizen and an officer of the
town, he would be entirely freed from the necessity of leading the life
of a buccaneer, and this life was becoming more and more repugnant to
him every day,--not only on account of the highly disagreeable nature of
his associates and their reckless deeds, but because the country was
becoming aroused, and the resistance to his advances was growing
stronger and stronger. In the next attack he made upon a town or village
he might receive a musket ball in his body, which would end his career
and leave his debts in France unpaid.

More than that, he was disappointed, as has been said before, in regard
to the financial successes he had expected. At that time he saw no
immediate prospect of being able to go home with money enough in his
pocket to pay off his creditors, and if he did not return to his native
land under those conditions, he did not wish to return there at all.
Under these circumstances it seemed to be wise and prudent, that if he
had no reason to expect to be able to settle down honorably and
peaceably in France, to accept this opportunity to settle honorably,
peaceably, and in every way satisfactorily in America.

It is easy to imagine the pitching and the tossing in the mind of our
French buccaneer. The more he thought of the attractions of the fair
widow and of the wealth and position which had been offered him, the
more he hated all thoughts of his piratical crew, and of the dastardly
and cruel character of the work in which they were engaged. If he could
have trusted the officers and citizens of the town, there is not much
doubt that he would have married the widow, but those officers and
citizens were Spaniards, and he was a Frenchman. A week before the
inhabitants of the place had been prosperous, contented, and happy. Now
they had been robbed, insulted, and in many cases ruined, and he was
commander of the body of desperadoes who had robbed and ruined them. Was
it likely that they would forget the injuries which he had inflicted
upon them simply because he had married a wealthy lady of the town and
had kindly consented to accept the office of city treasurer?

It was much more probable that when his men had really left that part of
the country the citizens would forget all their promises to him and
remember only his conduct toward them, and that even if he remained
alive long enough to marry the lady and take the position offered him,
it would not be long before she was again a widow and the office vacant.

So de Lussan shut his eyes to the tempting prospects which were spread
out before him, and preferring rather to be a live buccaneer than a dead
city treasurer, he told the beautiful widow that he could not marry her
and that he must go forth again into the hard, unsympathetic world to
fight, to burn, to steal, and to be polite. Then, fearing that if he
remained he might find his resolution weakened, he gathered together his
men and his pillage, and sadly went away, leaving behind him a joyful
town and a weeping widow.

If the affection of the young Spanish lady for the buccaneer chief was
sufficient to make her take an interest in his subsequent career, she
would probably have been proud of him, for the ladies of those days had
a high opinion of brave men and successful warriors. De Lussan soon
proved that he was not only a good fighter, but that he was also an
able general, and his operations on the western coast of South America
were more like military campaigns than ordinary expeditions of lawless
buccaneers.

He attacked and captured the city of Panama, always an attractive prize
to the buccaneer forces, and after that he marched down the western
coast of South America, conquering and sacking many towns. As he now
carried on his business in a somewhat wholesale way, it could not fail
to bring him in a handsome profit, and in the course of time he felt
that he was able to retire from the active practice of his profession
and to return to France.

But as he was going back into the circles of respectability, he wished
to do so as a respectable man. He discarded his hat and plume, he threw
away his great cutlass and his heavy pistols, and attired in the costume
of a gentleman in society he prepared himself to enter again upon his
old life. He made the acquaintance of some of the French colonial
officers in the West Indies, and obtaining from them letters of
introduction to the Treasurer-General of France, he went home as a
gentleman who had acquired a fortune by successful enterprises in the
new world.

The pirate who not only possesses a sense of propriety and a sensitive
mind, but is also gifted with an ability to write a book in which he
describes his own actions and adventures, is to be credited with unusual
advantages, and as Raveneau de Lussan possessed these advantages, he has
come down to posterity as a high-minded pirate.




Chapter XXI

Exit Buccaneer; Enter Pirate


The buccaneers of the West Indies and South America had grown to be a
most formidable body of reckless freebooters. From merely capturing
Spanish ships, laden with the treasures taken from the natives of the
new world, they had grown strong enough to attack Spanish towns and
cities. But when they became soldiers and marched in little armies, the
patience of the civilized world began to weaken: Panama, for instance,
was an important Spanish city; England was at peace with Spain;
therefore, when a military force composed mainly of Englishmen, and led
by a British subject, captured and sacked the said Spanish city, England
was placed in an awkward position; if she did not interfere with her
buccaneers, she would have a quarrel to settle with Spain.

Therefore it was that a new Governor was sent to Jamaica with strict
orders to use every power he possessed to put down the buccaneers and to
break up their organization, and it was to this end that he set a thief
to catch thieves and empowered the ex-pirate, Morgan, to execute his
former comrades.

But methods of conciliation, as well as threats of punishment, were used
to induce the buccaneers to give up their illegal calling, and liberal
offers were made to them to settle in Jamaica and become law-abiding
citizens. They were promised grants of land and assistance of various
kinds in order to induce them to take up the legitimate callings of
planters and traders.

But these offers were not at all tempting to the Brethren of the Coast;
from pirates _rampant_ to pirates _couchant_ was too great a change, and
some of them, who found it impossible to embark on piratical cruises, on
account of the increasing difficulties of fitting out vessels, returned
to their original avocations of cattle-butchering and beef-drying, and
some, it is said, chose rather to live among the wild Indians and share
their independent lives, than to bind themselves to any form of honest
industry.

The French had also been very active in suppressing the operations of
their buccaneers, and now the Brethren of the Coast, considered as an
organization for preying upon the commerce and settlers of Spain, might
be said to have ceased to exist. But it must not be supposed that
because buccaneering had died out, that piracy was dead. If we tear
down a wasps' nest, we destroy the abode of a fierce and pitiless
community, but we scatter the wasps, and it is likely that each one of
them, in the unrestricted and irresponsible career to which he has been
unwillingly forced, will prove a much more angry and dangerous insect
than he had ever been before.

This is what happened to these buccaneers who would not give up a
piratical life; driven away from Jamaica, from San Domingo, and even
from Tortuga, they retained a resting-place only at New Providence, an
island in the Bahamas, and this they did not maintain very long. Then
they spread themselves all over the watery world. They were no longer
buccaneers, they were no longer brothers of any sort or kind, they no
longer set out merely to pillage and fight the Spaniards, but their
attacks were made upon people of every nation. English ships and French
ships, once safe from them, were a welcome prey to these new pirates,
unrestrained by any kind of loyalty, even by any kind of enmity. They
were more rapacious, they were more cruel, they were more like fiends
than they had ever been before. They were cowardly and they no longer
proceeded against towns which might be defended, nor ran up alongside of
a man-of-war to boldly board her in the very teeth of her guns. They
confined themselves to attacks upon peaceable merchant vessels, often
robbing them and then scuttling them, delighted with the spectacle of a
ship, with all its crew, sinking hopelessly into the sea.

The scene of piratical operations in America was now very much changed.
The successors of the Brothers of the Coast, no longer united by any
bonds of fellowship, but each pirate captain acting independently in his
own wicked way, was coming up from the West Indies to afflict the
seacoast of our country.

The old buccaneers knew all about our southern coast, for they were
among the very first white men who ever set foot on the shores of North
and South Carolina before that region had been settled by colonists, and
when the only inhabitants were the wild Indians. These early buccaneers
often used its bays and harbors as convenient ports of refuge, where
they could anchor, divide spoils, take in fresh water, and stay as long
as they pleased without fear of molestation. It was natural enough that
when the Spanish-hating buccaneer merged into the independent pirate,
who respected no flag, and preyed upon ships of every nation, he should
feel very much at home on the Carolina coasts.

As the country was settled, and Charles Town, now Charleston, grew to be
a port of considerable importance, the pirates felt as much at home in
this region as when it was inhabited merely by Indians. They frequently
touched at little seaside settlements, and boldly sailed into the harbor
of Charles Town. But, unlike the unfortunate citizens of Porto Bello or
Maracaibo, the American colonists were not frightened when they saw a
pirate ship anchored in their harbors, for they knew its crew did not
come as enemies, but as friendly traders.

The early English colonists were not as prosperous as they might have
been if the mother country had not been so anxious to make money out of
them. They were not allowed to import goods from any country but
England, and if they had products or crops to export, they must be sold
to English merchants. For whatever they bought they had to pay the
highest prices, and they could not send into the markets of the world to
get the best value for their own productions.

Therefore it was that a pirate ship was a very welcome visitor in
Charles Town harbor. She was generally loaded with goods, which, as they
were stolen, her captain could afford to sell very cheaply indeed, and
as there was always plenty of Spanish gold on board, her crew was not
apt to haggle very much in regard to the price of the spirits, the
groceries, or the provisions which they bought from the merchants of the
town. This friendly commerce between the pirates and the Carolinians
grew to be so extensive that at one time the larger part of the coin in
circulation in those colonies consisted of Spanish gold pieces, which
had been brought in and used by the pirates for the purchase of goods.

But a pirate is very seldom a person of discretion, who knows when to
leave well enough alone, and so, instead of contenting themselves with
robbing and capturing the vessels belonging to people whom their Charles
Town friends and customers would look upon as foreigners, they boldly
sailed up and down the coast, seeking for floating booty wherever they
might find it, and when a pirate vessel commanded by an English captain
and manned principally by an English crew, fell in with a big
merchantman flying the English flag, they bore down upon that vessel,
just as if it had been French, or Spanish, or Dutch, and if the crew
were impertinent enough to offer any resistance, they were cut down and
thrown overboard.

At last the pirates became so swaggeringly bold and their captains so
enterprising in their illegal trading that the English government took
vigorous measures, not only to break up piracy, but to punish all
colonists who should encourage the freebooters by commercial dealings
with them. At these laws the pirates laughed, and the colonists winced,
and there were many people in Charles Town who vowed that if the King
wanted them to help him put down piracy, he must show them some other
way of getting imported goods at reasonable prices. So the pirates went
on capturing merchantmen whenever they had a chance, and the Carolinians
continued to look forward with interest to the bargain days which always
followed the arrival of a pirate ship. But this state of things did not
last, and the time came when the people of Charles Town experienced a
change of mind. The planters were now growing large quantities of rice,
and this crop became so valuable that the prosperity of the colonies
greatly increased. And now the pirates also became very much interested
in the rice crops, and when they had captured four or five vessels
sailing out of Charles Town heavily laden with rice, the people of that
town suddenly became aware of the true character of a pirate. He was now
in their eyes an unmitigated scoundrel who not only stole goods from all
nations, which he brought to them and sold at low prices, but he
actually stole their goods, their precious rice which they were sending
to England.

The indignant citizens of Charles Town took a bold stand, and such a
bold one it was that when part of a crew of pirates, who had been put
ashore by their comrades on account of a quarrel, made their way to the
town, thinking they could tell a tale of shipwreck and rely upon the
friendship of their old customers, they were taken into custody, and
seven out of the nine were hanged.

The occasional repetition of such acts as this, and the exhibition of
dangling pirates, hung up like scarecrows at the entrance of the
harbors, dampened the ardor of the freebooters a good deal, and for some
years they kept away from the harbor of Charles Town, which had once
been to them such a friendly port.




Chapter XXII

The Great Blackbeard comes upon the Stage


So long as the people of the Carolinas were prosperous and able to
capture and execute pirates who interfered with their trade the Atlantic
sea-robbers kept away from their ports, but this prosperity did not
last. Indian wars broke out, and in the course of time the colonies
became very much weakened and impoverished, and then it was that the
harbor of Charles Town began to be again interesting to the pirates.

About this time one of the most famous of sea-robbers was harassing the
Atlantic coast of North America, and from New England to the West
Indies, he was known as the great pirate Blackbeard. This man, whose
real name was Thatch, was a most terrible fellow in appearance as well
as action. He wore a long, heavy, black beard, which it was his fancy to
separate into tails, each one tied with a colored ribbon, and often
tucked behind his ears. Some of the writers of that day declared that
the sight of this beard would create more terror in any port of the
American seaboard than would the sudden appearance of a fiery comet.
Across his brawny breast he carried a sort of a sling in which hung not
less than three pairs of pistols in leathern holsters, and these, in
addition to his cutlass and a knife or two in his belt, made him a most
formidable-looking fellow.

Some of the fanciful recreations of Blackbeard show him to have been a
person of consistent purpose. Even in his hours of rest when he was not
fighting or robbing, his savage soul demanded some interesting
excitement. Once he was seated at table with his mate and two or three
sailors, and when the meal was over he took up a pair of pistols, and
cocking them put them under the table. This peculiar action caused one
of the sailors to remember very suddenly that he had something to do on
deck, and he immediately disappeared. But the others looked at their
captain in astonishment, wondering what he would do next. They soon
found out; for crossing the pistols, still under the table, he fired
them. One ball hit the mate in the leg, but the other struck no one.
When asked what he meant by this strange action, he replied that if he
did not shoot one of his men now and then they would forget what sort of
a person he was.

At another time he invented a game; he gathered his officers and crew
together and told them that they were going to play that they were
living in the lower regions. Thereupon the whole party followed him down
into the hold. The hatches and all the other openings were closed, and
then Blackbeard began to illuminate the scene with fire and brimstone.
The sulphur burned, the fumes rose, a ghastly light spread over the
countenances of the desperadoes, and very soon some of them began to
gasp and cough and implore the captain to let in some fresh air, but
Blackbeard was bound to have a good game, and he proceeded to burn more
brimstone. He laughed at the gasping fellows about him and declared that
he would be just as willing to breathe the fumes of sulphur as common
air. When at last he threw open the hatches, some of the men were almost
dead, but their stalwart captain had not even sneezed.

In the early part of the eighteenth century Blackbeard made his
headquarters in one of the inlets on the North Carolina coast, and there
he ruled as absolute king, for the settlers in the vicinity seemed to be
as anxious to oblige him as the captains of the merchantmen sailing
along the coast were anxious to keep out of his way. On one of his
voyages Blackbeard went down the coast as far as Honduras, where he took
a good many prizes, and as some of the crews of the captured vessels
enlisted under him he sailed north with a stronger force than ever
before, having a large ship of forty guns, three smaller vessels, and
four hundred men. With this little fleet Blackbeard made for the coast
of South Carolina, and anchored outside the harbor of Charles Town. He
well understood the present condition of the place and was not in the
least afraid that the citizens would hang him up on the shores of the
bay.

Blackbeard began work without delay. Several well-laden ships--the
Carolinians having no idea that pirates were waiting for them--came
sailing out to sea and were immediately captured. One of these was a
very important vessel, for it not only carried a valuable cargo, but a
number of passengers, many of them people of note, who were on their way
to England. One of these was a Mr. Wragg, who was a member of the
Council of the Province. It might have been supposed that when
Blackbeard took possession of this ship, he would have been satisfied
with the cargo and the money which he found on board, and having no use
for prominent citizens, would have let them go their way; but he was a
trader as well as a plunderer, and he therefore determined that the best
thing to do in this case was to put an assorted lot of highly
respectable passengers upon the market and see what he could get for
them. He was not at the time in need of money or provisions, but his men
were very much in want of medicines, so he decided to trade off his
prisoners for pills, potions, plasters, and all sorts of apothecary's
supplies.

He put three of his pirates in a boat, and with them one of the
passengers, a Mr. Marks, who was commissioned as Blackbeard's special
agent, with orders to inform the Governor that if he did not immediately
send the medicines required, amounting in value to about three hundred
pounds, and if he did not allow the pirate crew of the boat to return in
safety, every one of the prisoners would be hanged from the yard-arm of
his ship.

The boat rowed away to the distant town, and Blackbeard waited two days
for its return, and then he grew very angry, for he believed that his
messengers had been taken into custody, and he came very near hanging
Mr. Wragg and all his companions. But before he began to satisfy his
vengeance, news came from the boat. It had been upset in the bay, and
had had great trouble in getting to Charles Town, but it had arrived
there at last. Blackbeard now waited a day or two longer; but as no news
came from Mr. Marks, he vowed he would not be trifled with by the
impudent people of Charles Town, and swore that every man, woman, and
child among the prisoners should immediately prepare to be hanged.

Of course the unfortunate prisoners in the pirate ship were in a
terrible state of mind during the absence of Mr. Marks. They knew very
well that they could expect no mercy from Blackbeard if the errand
should be unsuccessful, and they also knew that the Charles Town people
would not be likely to submit to such an outrageous demand upon them; so
they trembled and quaked by day and by night, and when at last they were
told to get ready to be hanged, every particle of courage left them, and
they proposed to Blackbeard that if he would spare their lives, and that
if it should turn out that their fellow-citizens had decided to
sacrifice them for the sake of a few paltry drugs, they would take up
the cause of the pirates; they would show Blackbeard the best way to
sail into the harbor, and they would join with him and his men in
attacking the city and punishing the inhabitants for their hard-hearted
treatment of their unfortunate fellow-citizens.

This proposition pleased Blackbeard immensely; it would have been like a
new game to take Mr. Wragg to the town and make him fight his
fellow-members of the Council of the Province, and so he rescinded his
order for a general execution, and bade his prisoners prepare to join
with his pirates when he should give the word for an assault upon their
city.

In the meantime there was a terrible stir in Charles Town. When the
Governor and citizens received the insolent and brutal message of
Blackbeard they were filled with rage as well as consternation, and if
there had been any way of going out to sea to rescue their unhappy
fellow-citizens, every able-bodied man in the town would have enlisted
in the expedition. But they had no vessels of war, and they were not
even in a position to arm any of the merchantmen in the harbor. It
seemed to the Governor and his council that there was nothing for them
to do but to submit to the demands of Blackbeard, for they very well
knew that he was a scoundrel who would keep his word, and also that
whatever they did must be done quickly, for there were the three
swaggering pirates in the town, strutting about the streets as if they
owned the place. If this continued much longer, it would be impossible
to keep the infuriated citizens from falling upon these blustering
rascals and bringing their impertinence to a summary end. If this should
happen, it would be a terrible thing, for not only would Mr. Wragg and
his companions be put to death, but the pirates would undoubtedly attack
the town, which was in a very poor position for defence.

Consequently the drugs were collected with all possible haste, and Mr.
Marks and the pirates were sent with them to Blackbeard. We do not know
whether or not that bedizened cutthroat was satisfied with the way
things turned out; for having had the idea of going to Charles Town and
obliging the prisoners to help him confiscate the drugs and chemicals,
he may have preferred this unusual proceeding to a more commonplace
transaction; but as the medicine had arrived he accepted it, and having
secured all possible booty and money from the ships he had captured, and
had stripped his prisoners of the greater part of their clothing, he set
them on shore to walk to Charles Town as well as they could. They had a
miserably difficult time, making their way through the woods and
marshes, for there were women and children among them who were scarcely
equal to the journey. One of the children was a little boy, the son of
Mr. Wragg, who afterward became a very prominent man in the colonies. He
rose to such a high position, not only among his countrymen, but in the
opinion of the English government, that when he died, about the
beginning of the Revolution, a tablet to his memory was placed in
Westminster Abbey, which is, perhaps, the first instance of such an
honor being paid to an American.

Having now provided himself with medicines enough to keep his wild crew
in good physical condition, no matter how much they might feast and
frolic on the booty they had obtained from Charles Town, Blackbeard
sailed back to his North Carolina haunts and took a long vacation,
during which time he managed to put himself on very good terms with the
Governor and officials of the country. He had plenty of money and was
willing to spend it, and so he was allowed to do pretty much as he
pleased, provided he kept his purse open and did not steal from his
neighbors.

But Blackbeard became tired of playing the part of a make-believe
respectable citizen, and having spent the greater part of his money, he
wanted to make some more. Consequently he fitted out a small vessel, and
declaring that he was going on a legitimate commercial cruise, he took
out regular papers for a port in the West Indies and sailed away, as if
he had been a mild-mannered New England mariner going to catch codfish.
The officials of the town of Bath, from which he sailed, came down to
the ship and shook hands with him and hoped he would have good success.

After a moderate absence he returned to Bath, bringing with him a large
French merchant vessel, with no people on board, but loaded with a
valuable cargo of sugar and other goods. This vessel he declared he had
found deserted at sea, and he therefore claimed it as a legitimate
prize. Knowing the character of this bloody pirate, and knowing how very
improbable it was that the captain and all the crew of a valuable
merchant vessel, with nothing whatever the matter with her, would go out
into their boats and row away, leaving their ship to become the
property of any one who might happen along, it may seem surprising that
the officials of Bath appeared to have no doubt of the truth of
Blackbeard's story, and allowed him freely to land the cargo on the
French ship and store it away as his own property.

But people who consort with pirates cannot be expected to have very
lively consciences, and although there must have been persons in the
town with intelligence enough to understand the story of pitiless murder
told by that empty vessel, whose very decks and masts must have been
regarded as silent witnesses that her captain and crew did not leave her
of their own free will, no one in the town interfered with the thrifty
Blackbeard or caused any public suspicion to fall upon the propriety of
his actions.




Chapter XXIII

A True-Hearted Sailor draws his Sword


Feeling now quite sure that he could do what he pleased on shore as well
as at sea, Blackbeard swore more, swaggered more, and whenever he felt
like it, sailed up and down the coast and took a prize or two to keep
the pot boiling for himself and his men.

On one of these expeditions he went to Philadelphia, and having landed,
he walked about to see what sort of a place it was, but the Governor of
the state, hearing of his arrival, quickly arranged to let him know that
the Quaker city allowed no black-hearted pirate, with a ribbon-bedecked
beard, to promenade on Chestnut and Market streets, and promptly issued
a warrant for the sea-robber's arrest. But Blackbeard was too sharp and
too old a criminal to be caught in that way, and he left the city with
great despatch.

The people along the coast of North Carolina became very tired of
Blackbeard and his men. All sorts of depredations were committed on
vessels, large and small, and whenever a ship was boarded and robbed or
whenever a fishing-vessel was laid under contribution, Blackbeard was
known to be at the bottom of the business, whether he personally
appeared or not. To have this busy pirate for a neighbor was extremely
unpleasant, and the North Carolina settlers greatly longed to get rid of
him. It was of no use for them to ask their own State Government to
suppress this outrageous scoundrel, and although their good neighbor,
South Carolina, might have been willing to help them, she was too poor
at that time and had enough to do to take care of herself.

Not knowing, or not caring for the strong feeling of the settlers
against him, Blackbeard continued in his wicked ways, and among other
crimes he captured a small vessel and treated the crew in such a cruel
and atrocious manner that the better class of North Carolinians vowed
they would stand him no longer, and they therefore applied to Governor
Spotswood, of Virginia, and asked his aid in putting down the pirates.
The Virginians were very willing to do what they could for their
unfortunate neighbors. The legislature offered a reward for the capture
of Blackbeard or any of his men; but the Governor, feeling that this was
not enough, determined to do something on his own responsibility, for
he knew very well that the time might come when the pirate vessels would
begin to haunt Virginia waters.

There happened to be at that time two small British men-of-war in
Hampton Roads, and although the Governor had no authority to send these
after the pirates, he fitted out two sloops at his own expense and
manned them with the best fighting men from the war-vessels. One of the
sloops he put under Captain Brand, and the other under Captain Maynard,
both brave and experienced naval officers. All preparations were made
with the greatest secrecy--for if Blackbeard had heard of what was going
on, he would probably have decamped--and then the two sloops went out to
sea with a commission from the Governor to capture Blackbeard, dead or
alive. This was a pretty heavy contract, but Brand and Maynard were
courageous men and did not hesitate to take it.

The Virginians had been informed that the pirate captain and his men
were on a vessel in Ocracoke Inlet, and when they arrived they found, to
their delight, that Blackbeard was there. When the pirates saw the two
armed vessels sailing into the inlet, they knew very well that they were
about to be attacked, and it did not take them long to get ready for a
fight, nor did they wait to see what their enemy was about to do. As
soon as the sloops were near enough, Blackbeard, without waiting for
any preliminary exercises, such as a demand for surrender or any
nonsense of that sort, let drive at the intruders with eight heavily
loaded cannon.

Now the curtain had been rung up, and the play began, and a very lively
play it was. The guns of the Virginians blazed away at the pirate ship,
and they would have sent out boats to board her had not Blackbeard
forestalled them. Boarding was always a favorite method of fighting with
the pirates. They did not often carry heavy cannon, and even when they
did, they had but little fancy for battles at long distances. What they
liked was to meet foes face to face and cut them down on their own
decks. In such combats they felt at home, and were almost always
successful, for there were few mariners or sailors, even in the British
navy, who could stand against these brawny, glaring-eyed dare-devils,
who sprang over the sides of a vessel like panthers, and fought like
bulldogs. Blackbeard had had enough cannonading, and he did not wait to
be boarded. Springing into a boat with about twenty of his men, he rowed
to the vessel commanded by Maynard, and in a few minutes he and his
pirates surged on board her.

Now there followed on the decks of that sloop one of the most fearful
hand-to-hand combats known to naval history. Pirates had often attacked
vessels where they met with strong resistance, but never had a gang of
sea-robbers fallen in with such bold and skilled antagonists as those
who now confronted Blackbeard and his crew. At it they went,--cut, fire,
slash, bang, howl, and shout. Steel clashed, pistols blazed, smoke went
up, and blood ran down, and it was hard in the confusion for a man to
tell friend from foe. Blackbeard was everywhere, bounding from side to
side, as he swung his cutlass high and low, and though many a shot was
fired at him, and many a rush made in his direction, every now and then
a sailor went down beneath his whirling blade.

But the great pirate had not boarded that ship to fight with common men.
He was looking for Maynard, the commander. Soon he met him, and for the
first time in his life he found his match. Maynard was a practised
swordsman, and no matter how hard and how swiftly came down the cutlass
of the pirate, his strokes were always evaded, and the sword of the
Virginian played more dangerously near him. At last Blackbeard, finding
that he could not cut down his enemy, suddenly drew a pistol, and was
about to empty its barrels into the very face of his opponent, when
Maynard sent his sword-blade into the throat of the furious pirate; the
great Blackbeard went down upon his back on the deck, and in the next
moment Maynard put an end to his nefarious career. Their leader dead,
the few pirates who were left alive gave up the fight, and sprang
overboard, hoping to be able to swim ashore, and the victory of the
Virginians was complete.

The strength, toughness, and extraordinary vitality of these feline
human beings, who were known as pirates, has often occasioned
astonishment in ordinary people. Their sun-tanned and hairy bodies
seemed to be made of something like wire, leather, and India rubber,
upon which the most tremendous exertions, and even the infliction of
severe wounds, made but little impression. Before Blackbeard fell, he
received from Maynard and others no less than twenty-five wounds, and
yet he fought fearlessly to the last, and when the panting officer
sheathed his sword, he felt that he had performed a most signal deed of
valor.

When they had broken up the pirate nest in Ocracoke Inlet, the two
sloops sailed to Bath, where they compelled some of the unscrupulous
town officials to surrender the cargo which had been stolen from the
French vessel and stored in the town by Blackbeard; then they sailed
proudly back to Hampton Roads, with the head of the dreaded Blackbeard
dangling from the end of the bowsprit of the vessel he had boarded, and
on whose deck he had discovered the fact, before unknown to him, that a
well-trained, honest man can fight as well as the most reckless
cutthroat who ever decked his beard with ribbons, and swore enmity to
all things good.




Chapter XXIV

A Greenhorn under the Black Flag


Early in the eighteenth century there lived at Bridgetown, in the island
of Barbadoes, a very pleasant, middle-aged gentleman named Major Stede
Bonnet. He was a man in comfortable circumstances, and had been an
officer in the British army. He had retired from military service, and
had bought an estate at Bridgetown, where he lived in comfort and was
respected by his neighbors.

But for some reason or other this quiet and reputable gentleman got it
into his head that he would like to be a pirate. There were some persons
who said that this strange fancy was due to the fact that his wife did
not make his home pleasant for him, but it is quite certain that if a
man wants an excuse for robbing and murdering his fellow-beings he ought
to have a much better one than the bad temper of his wife. But besides
the general reasons why Major Bonnet should not become a pirate, and
which applied to all men as well as himself, there was a special reason
against his adoption of the profession of a sea-robber, for he was an
out-and-out landsman and knew nothing whatever of nautical matters. He
had been at sea but very little, and if he had heard a boatswain order
his man to furl the keel, to batten down the shrouds, or to hoist the
forechains to the topmast yard, he would have seen nothing out of the
way in these commands. He was very fond of history, and very well read
in the literature of the day. He was accustomed to the habits of good
society, and knew a great deal about farming and horses, cows and
poultry, but if he had been compelled to steer a vessel, he would not
have known how to keep her bow ahead of her stern.

But notwithstanding this absolute incapacity for such a life, and the
absence of any of the ordinary motives for abandoning respectability and
entering upon a career of crime, Major Bonnet was determined to become a
pirate, and he became one. He had money enough to buy a ship and to fit
her out and man her, and this he quietly did at Bridgetown, nobody
supposing that he was going to do anything more than start off on some
commercial cruise. When everything was ready, his vessel slipped out of
the harbor one night, and after he was sailing safely on the rolling sea
he stood upon the quarter-deck and proclaimed himself a pirate. It might
not be supposed that this was necessary, for the seventy men on board
his ship were all desperate cutthroats, of various nationalities, whom
he had found in the little port, and who knew very well what was
expected of them when they reached the sea. But if Stede Bonnet had not
proclaimed himself a pirate, it is possible that he might not have
believed, himself, that he was one, and so he ran up the black flag,
with its skeleton or skull and cross-bones, he girded on a great
cutlass, and, folding his arms, he ordered his mate to steer the vessel
to the coast of Virginia.

Although Bonnet knew so little about ships and the sea, and had had no
experience in piracy, his men were practised seamen, and those of them
who had not been pirates before were quite ready and very well fitted to
become such; so when this green hand came into the waters of Virginia he
actually took two or three vessels and robbed them of their cargoes,
burning the ships, and sending the crews on shore.

This had grown to be a common custom among the pirates, who, though
cruel and hard-hearted, had not the inducements of the old buccaneers to
torture and murder the crews of the vessels which they captured. They
could not hate human beings in general as the buccaneers hated the
Spaniards, and so they were a little more humane to their prisoners,
setting them ashore on some island or desert coast, and letting them
shift for themselves as best they might. This was called marooning, and
was somewhat less heartless than the old methods of getting rid of
undesirable prisoners by drowning or beheading them.

As Bonnet had always been rather conventional in his ideas and had
respected the customs of the society in which he found himself, he now
adopted all the piratical fashions of the day, and when he found himself
too far from land to put the captured crew on shore, he did not hesitate
to make them "walk the plank," which was a favorite device of the
pirates whenever they had no other way of disposing of their prisoners.
The unfortunate wretches, with their hands tied behind them, were
compelled, one by one, to mount a plank which was projected over the
side of the vessel and balanced like a see-saw, and when, prodded by
knives and cutlasses, they stepped out upon this plank, of course it
tipped up, and down they went into the sea. In this way, men, women, and
children slipped out of sight among the waves as the vessel sailed
merrily on.

In one branch of his new profession Bonnet rapidly became proficient. He
was an insatiable robber and a cruel conqueror. He captured merchant
vessels all along the coast as high up as New England, and then he came
down again and stopped for a while before Charles Town harbor, where he
took a couple of prizes, and then put into one of the North Carolina
harbors, where it was always easy for a pirate vessel to refit and get
ready for further adventures.

Bonnet's vessel was named the _Revenge_, which was about as ill suited
to the vessel as her commander was ill fitted to sail her, for Bonnet
had nobody to revenge himself upon unless, indeed, it were his scolding
wife. But a good many pirate ships were then called the _Revenge_, and
Bonnet was bound to follow the fashion, whatever it might be.

Very soon after he had stood upon the quarter-deck and proclaimed
himself a pirate his men had discovered that he knew no more about
sailing than he knew about painting portraits, and although there were
under-officers who directed all the nautical operations, the mass of the
crew conceived a great contempt for a landsman captain. There was much
grumbling and growling, and many of the men would have been glad to
throw Bonnet overboard and take the ship into their own hands. But when
any symptoms of mutiny showed themselves, the pirates found that
although they did not have a sailor in command over them, they had a
very determined and relentless master. Bonnet knew that the captain of a
pirate ship ought to be the most severe and rigid man on board, and so,
at the slightest sign of insubordination, his grumbling men were put in
chains or flogged, and it was Bonnet's habit at such times to strut
about the deck with loaded pistols, threatening to blow out the brains
of any man who dared to disobey him. Recognizing that although their
captain was no sailor he was a first-class tyrant, the rebellious crew
kept their grumbling to themselves and worked his ship.

Bonnet now pointed the bow of the _Revenge_ southward--that is, he
requested somebody else to see that it was done--and sailed to the Bay
of Honduras, which was a favorite resort of the pirates about that time.
And here it was that he first met with the famous Captain Blackbeard.
There can be no doubt that our amateur pirate was very glad indeed to
become acquainted with this well-known professional, and they soon
became good friends. Blackbeard was on the point of organizing an
expedition, and he proposed that Bonnet and his vessel should join it.
This invitation was gladly accepted, and the two pirate captains started
out on a cruise together. Now the old reprobate, Blackbeard, knew
everything about ships and was a good navigator, and it was not long
before he discovered that his new partner was as green as grass in
regard to all nautical affairs. Consequently, after having thought the
matter over for a time, he made up his mind that Bonnet was not at all
fit to command such a fine vessel as the one he owned and had fitted
out, and as pirates make their own laws, and perhaps do not obey them
if they happen not to feel like it, Blackbeard sent for Bonnet to come
on board his ship, and then, in a manner as cold-blooded as if he had
been about to cut down a helpless prisoner, Blackbeard told Bonnet that
he was not fit to be a pirate captain, that he intended to keep him on
board his own vessel, and that he would send somebody to take charge of
the _Revenge_.

This was a fall indeed, and Bonnet was almost stunned by it. An hour
before he had been proudly strutting about on the deck of a vessel which
belonged to him, and in which he had captured many valuable prizes, and
now he was told he was to stay on Blackbeard's ship and make himself
useful in keeping the log book, or in doing any other easy thing which
he might happen to understand. The green pirate ground his teeth and
swore bitterly inside of himself, but he said nothing openly; on
Blackbeard's ship Blackbeard's decisions were not to be questioned.




Chapter XXV

Bonnet again to the Front


It must not be supposed that the late commander of the _Revenge_
continued to be satisfied, as he sat in the cabin of Blackbeard's vessel
and made the entries of the day's sailing and various performances. He
obeyed the orders of his usurping partner because he was obliged to do
so, but he did not hate Blackbeard any the less because he had to keep
quiet about it. He accompanied his pirate chief on various cruises,
among which was the famous expedition to the harbor of Charles Town
where Blackbeard traded Mr. Wragg and his companions for medicines.

Having a very fine fleet under him, Blackbeard did a very successful
business for some time, but feeling that he had earned enough for the
present, and that it was time for him to take one of his vacations, he
put into an inlet in North Carolina, where he disbanded his crew. So
long as he was on shore spending his money and having a good time, he
did not want to have a lot of men about him who would look to him to
support them when they had spent their portion of the spoils. Having no
further use for Bonnet, he dismissed him also, and did not object to his
resuming possession of his own vessel. If the green pirate chose to go
to sea again and perhaps drown himself and his crew, it was a matter of
no concern to Blackbeard.

But this was a matter of very great concern to Stede Bonnet, and he
proceeded to prove that there were certain branches of the piratical
business in which he was an adept, and second to none of his
fellow-practitioners. He wished to go pirating again, and saw a way of
doing this which he thought would be far superior to any of the common
methods. It was about this time that King George of England, very
desirous of breaking up piracy, issued a proclamation in which he
promised pardon to any pirate who would appear before the proper
authorities, renounce his evil practices, and take an oath of
allegiance. It also happened that very soon after this proclamation had
been issued, England went to war with Spain. Being a man who kept
himself posted in the news of the world, so far as it was possible,
Bonnet saw in the present state of affairs a very good chance for him to
play the part of a wolf in sheep's clothing, and he proceeded to begin
his new piratical career by renouncing piracy. So leaving the _Revenge_
in the inlet, he journeyed overland to Bath; there he signed pledges,
took oaths, and did everything that was necessary to change himself from
a pirate captain to a respectable commander of a duly authorized British
privateer. Returning to his vessel with all the papers in his pocket
necessary to prove that he was a loyal and law-abiding subject of Great
Britain, he took out regular clearance papers for St. Thomas, which was
a British naval station, and where he declared he was going in order to
obtain a commission as a privateer.

Now the wily Bonnet had everything he wanted except a crew. Of course it
would not do for him, in his present respectable capacity, to go about
enlisting unemployed pirates, but at this point fortune again favored
him; he knew of a desert island not very far away where Blackbeard, at
the end of his last cruise, had marooned a large party of his men. This
heartless pirate had not wanted to take all of his followers into port,
because they might prove troublesome and expensive to him, and so he had
put a number of them on this island, to live or die as the case might
be. Bonnet went over to this island, and finding the greater part of
these men still surviving, he offered to take them to St. Thomas in his
vessel if they would agree to work the ship to port. This proposition
was of course joyfully accepted, and very soon the _Revenge_ was manned
with a complete crew of competent desperadoes.

All these operations took a good deal of time, and, at last, when
everything was ready for Bonnet to start out on his piratical cruise, he
received information which caused him to change his mind, and to set
forth on an errand of a very different kind. He had supposed that
Blackbeard, whom he had never forgiven for the shameful and treacherous
manner in which he had treated him, was still on shore enjoying himself,
but he was told by the captain of a small trading vessel that the old
pirate was preparing for another cruise, and that he was then in
Ocracoke Inlet. Now Bonnet folded his arms and stamped his feet upon the
quarter-deck. The time had come for him to show that the name of his
vessel meant something. Never before had he had an opportunity for
revenging himself on anybody, but now that hour had arrived. He would
revenge himself upon Blackbeard!

The implacable Bonnet sailed out to sea in a truly warlike frame of
mind. He was not going forth to prey upon unresisting merchantmen; he
was on his way to punish a black-hearted pirate, a faithless scoundrel,
who had not only acted knavishly toward the world in general, but had
behaved most disloyally and disrespectfully toward a fellow pirate
chief. If he could once run the _Revenge_ alongside the ship of the
perfidious Blackbeard, he would show him what a green hand could do.

When Bonnet reached Ocracoke Inlet, he was deeply disappointed to find
that Blackbeard had left that harbor, but he did not give up the
pursuit. He made hot chase after the vessel of his pirate enemy, keeping
a sharp lookout in hopes of discovering some signs of him. If the
enraged Bonnet could have met the ferocious Blackbeard face to face,
there might have been a combat which would have relieved the world of
two atrocious villains, and Captain Maynard would have been deprived of
the honor of having slain the most famous pirate of the day.

Bonnet was a good soldier and a brave man, and although he could not
sail a ship, he understood the use of the sword even better, perhaps,
than Blackbeard, and there is good reason to believe that if the two
ships had come together, their respective crews would have allowed their
captains to fight out their private quarrel without interference, for
pirates delight in a bloody spectacle, and this would have been to them
a rare diversion of the kind.

But Bonnet never overtook Blackbeard, and the great combat between the
rival pirates did not take place. After vainly searching for a
considerable time for a trace or sight of Blackbeard, the baffled Bonnet
gave up the pursuit and turned his mind to other objects. The first
thing he did was to change the name of his vessel; if he could not be
revenged, he would not sail in the _Revenge_. Casting about in his mind
for a good name, he decided to call her the _Royal James_. Having no
intention of respecting his oaths or of keeping his promises, he thought
that, as he was going to be disloyal, he might as well be as disloyal as
he could, and so he gave his ship the name assumed by the son of James
the Second, who was a pretender to the throne, and was then in France
plotting against the English government.

The next thing he did was to change his own name, for he thought this
would make matters better for him if he should be captured after
entering upon his new criminal career. So he called himself Captain
Thomas, by which name he was afterwards known.

When these preliminaries had been arranged, he gathered his crew
together and announced that instead of going to St. Thomas to get a
commission as a privateer, he had determined to keep on in his old
manner of life, and that he wished them to understand that not only was
he a pirate captain, but that they were a pirate crew. Many of the men
were very much surprised at this announcement, for they had thought it a
very natural thing for the green-hand Bonnet to give up pirating after
he had been so thoroughly snubbed by Blackbeard, and they had not
supposed that he would ever think again of sailing under a black flag.

However, the crew's opinion of the green-hand captain had been a good
deal changed. In his various cruises he had learned a good deal about
navigation, and could now give very fair orders, and his furious pursuit
of Blackbeard had also given him a reputation for reckless bravery which
he had not enjoyed before. A man who was chafing and fuming for a chance
of a hand-to-hand conflict with the greatest pirate of the day must be a
pretty good sort of a fellow from their point of view. Moreover, their
strutting and stalking captain, so recently balked of his dark revenge,
was a very savage-looking man, and it would not be pleasant either to
try to persuade him to give up his piratical intention, or to decline to
join him in carrying it out; so the whole of the crew, minor officers
and men, changed their minds about going to St. Thomas, and agreed to
hoist the skull and cross-bones, and to follow Captain Bonnet wherever
he might lead.

Bonnet now cruised about in grand style and took some prizes on the
Virginia coast, and then went up into Delaware Bay, where he captured
such ships as he wanted, and acted generally in the most domineering and
insolent fashion. Once, when he stopped near the town of Lewes, in order
to send some prisoners ashore, he sent a message to the officers of the
town to the effect that if they interfered with his men when they came
ashore, he would open fire upon the town with his cannon, and blow every
house into splinters. Of course the citizens, having no way of defending
themselves, were obliged to allow the pirates to come on shore and
depart unmolested.

Then after this the blustering captain captured two valuable sloops, and
wishing to take them along with him without the trouble of transferring
their cargoes to his own vessel, he left their crews on board, and
ordered them to follow him wherever he went. Some days after that, when
one of the vessels seemed to be sailing at too great a distance, Bonnet
quickly let her captain know that he was not a man to be trifled with,
and sent him the message that if he did not keep close to the _Royal
James_, he would fire into him and sink him to the bottom.

After a time Bonnet put into a North Carolina port in order to repair
the _Royal James_, which was becoming very leaky, and seeing no
immediate legitimate way of getting planks and beams enough with which
to make the necessary repairs, he captured a small sloop belonging in
the neighborhood, and broke it up in order to get the material he needed
to make his own vessel seaworthy.

Now the people of the North Carolina coast very seldom interfered with
pirates, as we have seen, and it is likely that Bonnet might have
stayed in port as long as he pleased, and repaired and refitted his
vessel without molestation if he had bought and paid for the planks and
timber he required. But when it came to boldly seizing their property,
that was too much even for the people of the region, and complaints of
Bonnet's behavior spread from settlement to settlement, and it very soon
became known all down the coast that there was a pirate in North
Carolina who was committing depredations there and was preparing to set
out on a fresh cruise.

When these tidings came to Charles Town, the citizens were thrown into
great agitation. It had not been long since Blackbeard had visited their
harbor, and had treated them with such brutal insolence, and there were
bold spirits in the town who declared that if any effort by them could
prevent another visitation of the pirates, that effort should be made.
There was no naval force in the harbor which could be sent out to meet
the pirates, who were coming down the coast; but Mr. William Rhett, a
private gentleman of position in the place, went to the Governor and
offered to fit out, at his own expense, an expedition for the purpose of
turning away from their city the danger which threatened it.




Chapter XXVI

The Battle of the Sand Bars


When that estimable private gentleman, Mr. William Rhett, of Charles
Town, had received a commission from the Governor to go forth on his own
responsibility and meet the dreaded pirate, the news of whose
depredations had thrown the good citizens into such a fever of
apprehension, he took possession, in the name of the law, of two large
sloops, the _Henry_ and the _Sea-Nymph_, which were in the harbor, and
at his own expense he manned them with well-armed crews, and put on
board of each of them eight small cannon. When everything was ready, Mr.
Rhett was in command of a very formidable force for those waters, and if
he had been ready to sail a few days sooner, he would have had an
opportunity of giving his men some practice in fighting pirates before
they met the particular and more important sea-robber whom they had set
out to encounter. Just as his vessel was ready to sail, Mr. Rhett
received news that a pirate ship had captured two or three merchantmen
just outside the harbor, and he put out to sea with all possible haste
and cruised up and down the coast for some time, but he did not find
this most recent depredator, who had departed very promptly when he
heard that armed ships were coming out of the harbor.

Now Mr. Rhett, who was no more of a sailor than Stede Bonnet had been
when he first began his seafaring life, boldly made his way up the coast
to the mouth of Cape Fear River, where he had been told the pirate
vessel was lying. When he reached his destination, Mr. Rhett found that
it would not be an easy thing to ascend the river, for the reason that
the pilots he had brought with him knew nothing about the waters of that
part of the coast, and although the two ships made their way very
cautiously, it was not long after they had entered the river before they
got out of the channel, and it being low tide, both of them ran aground
upon sand bars.

This was a very annoying accident, but it was not disastrous, for the
sailing masters who commanded the sloops knew very well that when the
tide rose, their vessels would float again. But it prevented Mr. Rhett
from going on and making an immediate attack upon the pirate vessel, the
topmasts of which could be plainly seen behind a high headland some
distance up the river.

Of course Bonnet, or Captain Thomas, as he now chose to be called, soon
became aware of the fact that two good-sized vessels were lying aground
near the mouth of the river, and having a very natural curiosity to see
what sort of craft they were, he waited until nightfall and then sent
three armed boats to make observations. When these boats returned to the
_Royal James_ and reported that the grounded vessels were not
well-loaded trading craft, but large sloops full of men and armed with
cannon, Bonnet (for we prefer to call him by his old name) had good
reason to fold his arms, knit his brows, and strut up and down the deck.
He was sure that the armed vessels came from Charles Town, and there was
no reason to doubt that if the Governor of South Carolina had sent two
ships against him the matter was a very serious one. He was penned up in
the river, he had only one fighting vessel to contend against two, and
if he could not succeed in getting out to sea before he should be
attacked by the Charles Town ships, there would be but little chance of
his continuing in his present line of business. If the _Royal James_ had
been ready to sail, there is no doubt that Bonnet would have taken his
chance of finding the channel in the dark, and would have sailed away
that night without regard to the cannonading which might have been
directed against him from the two stranded vessels.

But as it was impossible to get ready to sail, Bonnet went to work with
the greatest energy to get ready to fight. He knew that when the tide
rose there would be two armed sloops afloat, and that there would be a
regular naval battle on the quiet waters of Cape Fear River. All night
his men worked to clear the decks and get everything in order for the
coming combat, and all night Mr. Rhett and his crews kept a sharp watch
for any unexpected move of the enemy, while they loaded their guns,
their pistols, and their cannon, and put everything in order for action.

Very early in the morning the wide-awake crews of the South Carolina
vessels, which were now afloat and at anchor, saw that the topmasts of
the pirate craft were beginning to move above the distant headland, and
very soon Bonnet's ship came out into view, under full sail, and as she
veered around they saw that she was coming toward them. Up went the
anchors and up went the sails of the _Henry_ and the _Sea-Nymph_, and
the naval battle between the retired army officer who had almost learned
to be a sailor, and the private gentleman from South Carolina, who knew
nothing whatever about managing ships, was about to begin.

It was plain to the South Carolinians that the great object of the
pirate captain was to get out to sea just as soon as he could, and that
he was coming down the river, not because he wished to make an
immediate attack upon them, but because he hoped to slip by them and
get away. Of course they could follow him upon the ocean and fight him
if their vessels were fast enough, but once out of the river with plenty
of sea-room, he would have twenty chances of escape where now he had
one.

But Mr. Rhett did not intend that the pirates should play him this
little trick; he wanted to fight the dastardly wretches in the river,
where they could not get away, and he had no idea of letting them sneak
out to sea. Consequently as the _Royal James_, under full sail, was
making her way down the river, keeping as far as possible from her two
enemies, Mr. Rhett ordered his ships to bear down upon her so as to cut
off her retreat and force her toward the opposite shore of the river.
This manoeuvre was performed with great success. The two Charles Town
sloops sailed so boldly and swiftly toward the _Royal James_ that the
latter was obliged to hug the shore, and the first thing the pirates
knew they were stuck fast and tight upon a sand bar. Three minutes
afterward the _Henry_ ran upon a sand bar, and there being enough of
these obstructions in that river to satisfy any ordinary demand, the
_Sea-Nymph_ very soon grounded herself upon another of them. But
unfortunately she took up her permanent position at a considerable
distance from her consort.

Here now were the vessels which were to conduct this memorable
sea-fight, all three fast in the sand and unable to move, and their
predicament was made the worse by the fact that it would be five hours
before the tide would rise high enough for any one of them to float. The
positions of the three vessels were very peculiar and awkward; the
_Henry_ and the _Royal James_ were lying so near to each other that Mr.
Rhett could have shot Major Bonnet with a pistol if the latter gentleman
had given him the chance, and the _Sea-Nymph_ was so far away that she
was entirely out of the fight, and her crew could do nothing but stand
and watch what was going on between the other two vessels.

But although they could not get any nearer each other, nor get away from
each other, the pirates and Mr. Rhett's crew had no idea of postponing
the battle until they should be afloat and able to fight in the ordinary
fashion of ships; they immediately began to fire at each other with
pistols, muskets, and cannon, and the din and roar was something that
must have astonished the birds and beasts and fishes of that quiet
region.

As the tide continued to run out of the river, and its waters became
more and more shallow, the two contending vessels began to careen over
to one side, and, unfortunately for the _Henry_, they both careened in
the same direction, and in such a manner that the deck of the _Royal
James_ was inclined away from the _Henry_, while the deck of the latter
leaned toward her pirate foe. This gave a great advantage to Bonnet and
his crew, for they were in a great measure protected by the hull of
their vessel, whereas the whole deck of the _Henry_ was exposed to the
fire of the pirates. But Mr. Rhett and his South Carolinians were all
brave men, and they blazed away with their muskets and pistols at the
pirates whenever they could see a head above the rail of the _Royal
James_, while with their cannon they kept firing at the pirate's hull.

For five long hours the fight continued, but the cannon carried by the
two vessels must have been of very small calibre, for if they had been
firing at such short range and for such a length of time with modern
guns, they must have shattered each other into kindling wood. But
neither vessel seems to have been seriously injured, and although there
were a good many men killed on both sides, the combat was kept up with
great determination and fury. At one time it seemed almost certain that
Bonnet would get the better of Mr. Rhett, and he ordered his black flag
waved contemptuously in the air while his men shouted to the South
Carolinians to come over and call upon them, but the South Carolina boys
answered these taunts with cheers and fired away more furiously than
ever.

The tide was now coming in, and everybody on board the two fighting
vessels knew very well that the first one of them which should float
would have a great advantage over the other, and would probably be the
conqueror. In came the tide, and still the cannons roared and the
muskets cracked, while the hearts of the pirates and the South
Carolinians almost stood still as they each watched the other vessel to
see if she showed any signs of floating.

At last such signs were seen; the _Henry_ was further from the shore
than the _Royal James_, and she first felt the influence of the rising
waters. Her masts began to straighten, and at last her deck was level,
and she floated clear of the bottom while her antagonist still lay
careened over on her side. Now the pirates saw there was no chance for
them; in a very short time the other Carolina sloop would be afloat, and
then the two vessels would bear down upon them and utterly destroy both
them and their vessel. Consequently upon the _Royal James_ there was a
general disposition to surrender and to make the best terms they could,
for it would be a great deal better to submit and run the chance of a
trial than to keep up the fight against enemies so much superior both in
numbers and ships, who would soon be upon them.

But Bonnet would not listen to one word of surrender. Rather than give
up the fight he declared he would set fire to the powder magazine of
the _Royal James_ and blow himself, his ship, and his men high up into
the air. Although he had not a sailor's skill, he possessed a soldier's
soul, and in spite of his being a dastardly and cruel pirate he was a
brave man. But Bonnet was only one, and his crew numbered dozens, and
notwithstanding his furiously dissenting voice it was determined to
surrender, and when Mr. Rhett sailed up to the _Royal James_, intending
to board her if the pirates still showed resistance, he found them ready
to submit to terms and to yield themselves his prisoners.

Thus ended the great sea-fight between the private gentlemen, and thus
ended Stede Bonnet's career. He and his men were taken to Charles Town,
where most of the pirate crew were tried and executed. The green-hand
pirate, who had wrought more devastation along the American coast than
many a skilled sea-robber, was held in custody to await his trial, and
it seems very strange that there should have been a public sentiment in
Charles Town which induced the officials to treat this pirate with a
certain degree of respect simply from the fact that his station in life
had been that of a gentleman. He was a much more black-hearted scoundrel
than any of his men, but they were executed as soon as possible while
his trial was postponed and he was allowed privileges which would never
have been accorded a common pirate. In consequence of this leniency he
escaped and had to be retaken by Mr. Rhett. It was so long before he was
tried that sympathy for his misfortunes arose among some of the
tender-hearted citizens of Charles Town whose houses he would have
pillaged and whose families he would have murdered if the exigencies of
piracy had rendered such action desirable.

Finding that other people were trying to save his life, Bonnet came down
from his high horse and tried to save it himself by writing piteous
letters to the Governor, begging for mercy. But the Governor of South
Carolina had no notion of sparing a pirate who had deliberately put
himself under the protection of the law in order that he might better
pursue his lawless and wicked career, and the green hand, with the black
heart, was finally hung on the same spot where his companions had been
executed.




Chapter XXVII

A Six Weeks' Pirate


About the time of Stede Bonnet's terminal adventures a very
unpretentious pirate made his appearance in the waters of New York. This
was a man named Richard Worley, who set himself up in piracy in a very
small way, but who, by a strict attention to business, soon achieved a
remarkable success. He started out as a scourge upon the commerce of the
Atlantic Ocean with only an open boat and eight men. In this small craft
he went down the coast of New Jersey taking everything he could from
fishing boats and small trading vessels until he reached Delaware Bay,
and here he made a bold stroke and captured a good-sized sloop.

When this piratical outrage was reported at Philadelphia, it created a
great sensation, and people talked about it until the open boat with
nine men grew into a great pirate ship filled with roaring desperadoes
and cutthroats. From Philadelphia the news was sent to New York, and
that government was warned of the great danger which threatened the
coast. As soon as this alarming intelligence was received, the New
Yorkers set to work to get up an expedition which should go out to sea
and endeavor to destroy the pirate vessel before it could enter their
port, and work havoc among their merchantmen.

It may seem strange that a small open boat with nine men could stir up
such a commotion in these two great provinces of North America, but if
we can try to imagine the effect which would be produced among the
inhabitants of Staten Island, or in the hearts of the dwellers in the
beautiful houses on the shores of the Delaware River, by the
announcement that a boat carrying nine desperate burglars was to be
expected in their neighborhood, we can better understand what the people
of New York and Philadelphia thought when they heard that Worley had
captured a sloop in Delaware Bay.

The expedition which left New York made a very unsuccessful cruise. It
sailed for days and days, but never saw a sign of a boat containing nine
men, and it returned disappointed and obliged to report no progress.
With Worley, however, progress had been very decided. He captured
another sloop, and this being a large one and suitable to his purposes,
he took possession of it, gave up his open boat, and fitted out his
prize as a regular piratical craft. With a good ship under his command,
Captain Worley now enlarged his sphere of action; on both shores of
Delaware Bay, and along the coast of New Jersey, he captured everything
which came in his way, and for about three weeks he made the waters in
those regions very hot for every kind of peaceable commercial craft. If
Worley had been in trade, his motto would have been "Quick sales and
small profits," for by day and by night, the _New York's Revenge_, which
was the name he gave to his new vessel, cruised east and west and north
and south, losing no opportunity of levying contributions of money,
merchandise, food, and drink upon any vessel, no matter how
insignificant it might be.

The Philadelphians now began to tremble in their shoes; for if a boat
had so quickly grown into a sloop, the sloop might grow into a fleet,
and they had all heard of Porto Bello, and the deeds of the bloody
buccaneers. The Governor of Pennsylvania, recognizing the impending
danger and the necessity of prompt action, sent to Sandy Hook, where
there was a British man-of-war, the _Phoenix_, and urged that this
vessel should come down into Delaware Bay and put an end to the pirate
ship which was ravaging those waters. Considering that Worley had not
been engaged in piracy for much more than four weeks, he had created a
reputation for enterprise and industry, which gave him a very important
position as a commerce destroyer, and a large man-of-war did not think
that he was too small game for her to hunt down, and so she set forth to
capture or destroy the audacious Worley. But never a Worley of any kind
did she see. While the _Phoenix_ was sailing along the coast,
examining all the coves and harbors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the
_New York's Revenge_ put out to sea, and then proceeded southward to
discover a more undisturbed field of operation.

We will now leave Worley's vessel sailing southward, and go for a time
to Charles Town, where some very important events were taking place. The
Governor of South Carolina had been very much afraid that the pirates in
general would take some sort of revenge for the capture of Stede Bonnet,
who was then in prison awaiting trial, and that if he should be
executed, Charles Town might be visited by an overpowering piratical
force, and he applied to England to have a war-vessel sent to the
harbor. But before any relief of this kind could be expected, news came
to Charles Town that already a celebrated pirate, named Moody, was
outside of the harbor, capturing merchant vessels, and it might be that
he was only waiting for the arrival of other pirate ships to sail into
the harbor and rescue Bonnet.

Now the Charles Town citizens saw that they must again act for
themselves, and not depend upon the home government. If there were
pirates outside the harbor, they must be met and fought before they
could come up to the city; and the Governor and the Council decided
immediately to fit out a little fleet. Four merchant vessels were
quickly provided with cannon, ammunition, and men, and the command of
this expedition would undoubtedly have been given to Mr. Rhett had it
not been that he and the Governor had quarrelled. There being no naval
officers in Charles Town, their fighting vessels had to be commanded by
civilians, and Governor Johnson now determined that he would try his
hand at carrying on a sea-fight. Mr. Rhett had done very well; why
should not he?

Before the Governor's little fleet of vessels, one of which was the
_Royal James_, captured from Bonnet, was quite ready to sail, the
Governor received news that his preparations had not been made a moment
too soon, for already two vessels, one a large ship, and the other an
armed sloop, had come into the outer harbor, and were lying at anchor
off Sullivan's Island. It was very likely that Moody, having returned
from some outside operation, was waiting there for the arrival of other
pirate ships, and that it was an important thing to attack him at once.

As it was very desirable that the pirates should not be frightened away
before the Charles Town fleet could reach them, the vessels of the
latter were made to look as much like mere merchantmen as possible.
Their cannon were covered, and the greater part of the crews was kept
below, out of sight. Thus the four ships came sailing down the bay, and
early in the morning made their appearance in the sight of the pirates.
When the ship and the big sloop saw the four merchant vessels sailing
quietly out of the harbor, they made immediate preparations to capture
them. Anchors were weighed, sails were set, and with a black flag flying
from the topmast of each vessel, the pirates steered toward the Charles
Town fleet, and soon approached near enough to the _King William_, which
was the foremost of the fleet, to call upon her captain to surrender.
But at that moment Governor Johnson, who was on board the
_Mediterranean_, and could hear the insolent pirate shouting through his
speaking-trumpet, gave a preconcerted signal. Instantly everything was
changed. The covers were jerked off from the cannon of the pretended
merchantmen, armed men poured up out of the holds, the flag of England
was quickly raised on each one of them, and the sixty-eight guns of the
combined fleet opened fire upon the astonished pirates.

The ship which seemed to be the more formidable of the enemy's vessels
had run up so close to her intended prey that two of Governor Johnson's
vessels, the _Sea-Nymph_ and the _Royal James_, once so bitterly opposed
to each other, but now fighting together in honest comradeship, were
able to go between her and the open sea and so cut off her retreat.

But if the captain of the pirate ship could not get away, he showed that
he was very well able to fight, and although the two vessels which had
made him the object of their attack were pouring cannon balls and musket
shot upon him, he blazed away with his cannon and his muskets. The three
vessels were so near each other that sometimes their yard-arms almost
touched, so that this terrible fight seemed almost like a hand-to-hand
conflict. For four hours the roaring of the cannon, the crushing of
timbers, the almost continuous discharge of musketry were kept up, while
the smoke of the battle frequently almost prevented the crews of the
contending ships from seeing each other. Not so very far away the people
of Charles Town, who were standing on the shores of their beautiful
harbor, could see the fierce fight which was going on, and great was the
excitement and anxiety throughout the city.

But the time came when two ships grew too much for one, and as the
_Royal James_ and the _Sea-Nymph_ were able to take positions by which
they could rake the deck of the pirate vessel, many of her men gave up
the fight and rushed down into the hold to save their lives. Then both
the Charles Town vessels bore down upon the pirate and boarded her, and
now there was another savage battle with pistols and cutlasses. The
pirate captain and several of his crew were still on deck, and they
fought like wounded lions, and it was not until they had all been cut
down or shot that victory came to the men of Charles Town.

Very soon after this terrible battle was over the waiting crowds in the
city saw a glorious sight; the pirate ship came sailing slowly up the
harbor, a captured vessel, with the _Sea-Nymph_ on one side and the
_Royal James_ on the other, the colors of the Crown flying from the
masts of each one of the three.

The other pirate ship, which was quite large, seemed to be more
fortunate than her companion, for she was able to get out to sea, and
spreading all her sails she made every effort to escape. Governor
Johnson, however, had no idea of letting her get away if he could help
it. When a civilian goes out to fight a sea-battle he naturally wants to
show what he can do, and Governor Johnson did not mean to let people
think that Mr. Rhett was a better naval commander than he was. He
ordered the _Mediterranean_ and the _King William_ to put on all sail,
and away they went after the big ship. The retreating pirates did
everything they could to effect escape, throwing over their cannon, and
even their boats, in order to lighten their ship, but it was of no use.
The Governor's vessels were the faster sailers, and when the _King
William_ got near enough to fire a few cannon balls into the flying
ship, the latter hauled down the black flag and without hesitation lay
to and surrendered.

It was plain enough that this ship was not manned by desperate pirates,
and when Governor Johnson went on board of her he found her to be not
really a pirate ship, but an English vessel which not long before had
been captured by the pirates in whose company she had visited Charles
Town harbor. She had been bringing over from England a company of
convicts and what were called "covenant servants," who were going to the
colonies to be disposed of to the planters for a term of years. Among
these were thirty-six women, and when the South Carolinians went below
they were greatly surprised to find the hold crowded with these
unfortunate creatures, some of whom were nearly frightened to death. At
the time of this vessel's capture the pirate captain had enlisted some
of the convicts into his crew, as he needed men, and putting on board of
his prize a few pirates to command her, the ship had been worked by such
of her own crew and passengers as were willing to serve under pirates,
while the others were shut up below.

Here was a fine prize taken with very little trouble, and the _King
William_ and the _Mediterranean_ returned to Charles Town with their
captured ship, to be met with the shouts and cheers of the delighted
citizens, already excited to a high pitch by the previous arrival of the
captured pirate sloop.

But Governor Johnson met with something else which made a stronger
impression on him than the cheers of his townspeople, and this was the
great surprise of finding that he had not fought and conquered the
pirate Moody; without suspecting such a thing, he had crushed and
utterly annihilated the dreaded Worley, whose deeds had created such a
consternation in northern waters, and whose threatened approach had sent
a thrill of excitement all down the coast. When this astonishing news
became known, the flags of the city were waved more wildly, and the
shouts and cheers rose higher.

Thus came to an end, in the short time of six weeks, the career of
Richard Worley, who, without doubt, did more piratical work in less time
than any sea-robber on record.




Chapter XXVIII

The Story of Two Women Pirates


The history of the world gives us many instances of women who have taken
the parts of men, almost always acquitting themselves with as much
credit as if they had really belonged to the male sex, and, in our
modern days, these instances are becoming more frequent than ever
before. Joan of Arc put on a suit of armor and bravely led an army, and
there have been many other fighting women who made a reputation for
themselves; but it is very seldom that we hear of a woman who became a
pirate. There were, however, two women pirates who made themselves very
well known on our coast.

The most famous of these women pirates was named Mary Reed. Her father
was an English captain of a trading vessel, and her mother sailed with
him. This mother had had an elder child, a son, and she also had a
mother-in-law in England from whom she expected great things for her
little boy. But the boy died, and Mrs. Reed, being afraid that her
mother-in-law would not be willing to leave any property to a girl,
determined to play a little trick, and make believe that her second
child was also a boy.

Consequently, as soon as the little girl, who, from her birth had been
called Mary by her father and mother, was old enough to leave off baby
clothes, she put on boy's clothes, and when the family returned to
England a nice little boy appeared before his grandmother; but all this
deception amounted to nothing, for the old lady died without leaving
anything to the pretended boy. Mary's mother believed that her child
would get along better in the world as a boy than she would as a girl,
and therefore she still dressed her in masculine clothes, and put her
out to service as a foot-boy, or one of those youngsters who now go by
the name of "Buttons."

But Mary did not fancy blacking boots and running errands. She was very
well satisfied to be a boy, but she wanted to live the kind of a boy's
life which would please her fancy, and as she thought life on the ocean
wave would suit her very well, she ran away from her employer's house
and enlisted on board a man-of-war as a powder monkey.

After a short time, Mary found that the ocean was not all that she
expected it to be, and when she had grown up so that she looked like a
good strapping fellow, she ran away from the man-of-war when it was in
an English port, and went to Flanders, and there she thought she would
try something new, and see whether or not she would like a soldier's
life better than that of a sailor. She enlisted in a regiment of foot,
and in the course of time she became a very good soldier and took part
in several battles, firing her musket and charging with her bayonet as
well as any of the men beside her.

But there is a great deal of hard work connected with infantry service,
and although she was eager for the excitement of battle with the
exhilarating smell of powder and the cheering shouts of her
fellow-soldiers, Mary did not fancy tramping on long marches, carrying
her heavy musket and knapsack. She got herself changed into a regiment
of cavalry, and here, mounted upon a horse, with the encumbrances she
disliked to carry comfortably strapped behind her, Mary felt much more
at ease, and much better satisfied. But she was not destined to achieve
fame as a dashing cavalry man with foaming steed and flashing sabre. One
of her comrades was a very prepossessing young fellow, and Mary fell in
love with him, and when she told him she was not really a cavalry man
but a cavalry woman, he returned her affection, and the two agreed that
they would quit the army, and set up domestic life as quiet civilians.
They were married, and went into the tavern-keeping business. They were
both fond of horses, and did not wish to sever all connection with the
method of life they had just given up, and so they called their little
inn the Three Horse Shoes, and were always glad when any one of their
customers came riding up to their stables, instead of simply walking in
their door.

But this domestic life did not last very long. Mary's husband died, and,
not wishing to keep a tavern by herself, she again put on the dress of a
man and enlisted as a soldier. But her military experience did not
satisfy her, and after all she believed that she liked the sea better
than the land, and again she shipped as a sailor on a vessel bound for
the West Indies.

Now Mary's desire for change and variety seemed likely to be fully
satisfied. The ship was taken by English pirates, and as she was English
and looked as if she would make a good freebooter, they compelled her to
join them, and thus it was that she got her first idea of a pirate's
life. When this company disbanded, she went to New Providence and
enlisted on a privateer, but, as was very common on such vessels
commissioned to perform acts of legal piracy, the crew soon determined
that illegal piracy was much preferable, so they hoisted the black flag,
and began to scourge the seas.

Mary Reed was now a regular pirate, with a cutlass, pistol, and every
outward appearance of a daring sea-robber, except that she wore no
bristling beard, but as her face was sunburned and seamed by the
weather, she looked mannish enough to frighten the senses out of any
unfortunate trader on whose deck she bounded in company with her
shouting, hairy-faced companions. It is told of her that she did not
fancy the life of a pirate, but she seemed to believe in the principle
of whatever is worth doing is worth doing well; she was as ready with
her cutlass and her pistol as any other ocean bandit.

But although Mary was a daring pirate, she was also a woman, and again
she fell in love. A very pleasant and agreeable sailor was taken
prisoner by the crew of her ship, and Mary concluded that she would take
him as her portion of the spoils. Consequently, at the first port they
touched she became again a woman and married him, and as they had no
other present method of livelihood he remained with her on her ship.
Mary and her husband had no real love for a pirate's life, and they
determined to give it up as soon as possible, but the chance to do so
did not arrive. Mary had a very high regard for her new husband, who was
a quiet, amiable man, and not at all suited to his present life, and as
he had become a pirate for the love of her, she did everything she could
to make life easy for him.

She even went so far as to fight a duel in his place, one of the crew
having insulted him, probably thinking him a milksop who would not
resent an affront. But the latent courage of Mary's husband instantly
blazed up, and he challenged the insulter to a duel. Although Mary
thought her husband was brave enough to fight anybody, she thought that
perhaps, in some ways, he was a milksop and did not understand the use
of arms nearly as well as she did. Therefore, she made him stay on board
the ship while she went to a little island near where they were anchored
and fought the duel with sword and pistol. The man pirate and the woman
pirate now went savagely to work, and it was not long before the man
pirate lay dead upon the sand, while Mary returned to an admiring crew
and a grateful husband.

During her piratical career Mary fell in with another woman pirate, Anne
Bonny, by name, and these women, being perhaps the only two of their
kind, became close friends. Anne came of a good family. She was the
daughter of an Irish lawyer, who went to Carolina and became a planter,
and there the little girl grew up. When her mother died she kept the
house, but her disposition was very much more masculine than feminine.
She was very quick-tempered and easily enraged, and it is told of her
that when an Englishwoman, who was working as a servant in her father's
house, had irritated Anne by some carelessness or impertinence, that
hot-tempered young woman sprang upon her and stabbed her with a
carving-knife.

It is not surprising that Anne soon showed a dislike for the humdrum
life on a plantation, and meeting with a young sailor, who owned nothing
in the world but the becoming clothes he wore, she married him.
Thereupon her father, who seems to have been as hot-headed as his
daughter, promptly turned her out of doors. The fiery Anne was glad
enough to adopt her husband's life, and she went to sea with him,
sailing to New Providence. There she was thrown into an entirely new
circle of society. Pirates were in the habit of congregating at this
place, and Anne was greatly delighted with the company of these daring,
dashing sea-robbers, of whose exploits she had so often heard. The more
she associated with the pirates, the less she cared for the plain,
stupid sailors, who were content with the merchant service, and she
finally deserted her husband and married a Captain Rackham, one of the
most attractive and dashing pirates of the day.

Anne went on board the ship of her pirate husband, and as she was sure
his profession would exactly suit her wild and impetuous nature, she
determined also to become a pirate. She put on man's clothes, girded to
her side a cutlass, and hung pistols in her belt. During many voyages
Anne sailed with Captain Rackham, and wherever there was pirate's work
to do, she was on deck to do it. At last the gallant captain came to
grief. He was captured and condemned to death. Now there was an
opportunity for Anne's nature to assert itself, and it did, but it was a
very different sort of nature from that of Mary Reed. Just before his
execution Anne was admitted to see her husband, but instead of offering
to do anything that might comfort him or palliate his dreadful
misfortune, she simply stood and contemptuously glared at him. She was
sorry, she said, to see him in such a predicament, but she told him
plainly that if he had had the courage to fight like a man, he would not
then be waiting to be hung like a dog, and with that she walked away and
left him.

On the occasion when Captain Rackham had been captured, Mary Reed and
her husband were on board his ship, and there was, perhaps, some reason
for Anne's denunciation of the cowardice of Captain Rackham. As has been
said, the two women were good friends and great fighters, and when they
found the vessel engaged in a fight with a man-of-war, they stood
together upon the deck and boldly fought, although the rest of the crew,
and even the captain himself, were so discouraged by the heavy fire
which was brought to bear on them, that they had retreated to the hold.

Mary and Anne were so disgusted at this exhibition of cowardice, that
they rushed to the hatchways and shouted to their dastardly companions
to come up and help defend the ship, and when their entreaties were
disregarded they were so enraged that they fired down into the hold,
killing one of the frightened pirates and wounding several others. But
their ship was taken, and Mary and Anne, in company with all the pirates
who had been left alive, were put in irons and carried to England.

When she was in prison, Mary declared that she and her husband had
firmly intended to give up piracy and become private citizens. But when
she was put on trial, the accounts of her deeds had a great deal more
effect than her words upon her judges, and she was condemned to be
executed. She was saved, however, from this fate by a fever of which she
died soon after her conviction.

The impetuous Anne was also condemned, but the course of justice is
often very curious and difficult to understand, and this hard-hearted
and sanguinary woman was reprieved and finally pardoned. Whether or not
she continued to disport herself as a man we do not know, but it is
certain that she was the last of the female pirates.

There are a great many things which women can do as well as men, and
there are many professions and lines of work from which they have been
long debarred, and for which they are most admirably adapted, but it
seems to me that piracy is not one of them. It is said that a woman's
nature is apt to carry her too far, and I have never heard of any man
pirate who would allow himself to become so enraged against the
cowardice of his companions that he would deliberately fire down into
the hold of a vessel containing his wife and a crowd of his former
associates.




Chapter XXIX

A Pirate from Boyhood


About the beginning of the eighteenth century there lived in
Westminster, England, a boy who very early in life made a choice of a
future career. Nearly all boys have ideas upon this subject, and while
some think they would like to be presidents or generals of armies,
others fancy that they would prefer to be explorers of unknown countries
or to keep candy shops. But it generally happens that these youthful
ideas are never carried out, and that the boy who would wish to sell
candy because he likes to eat it, becomes a farmer on the western
prairie, where confectionery is never seen, and the would-be general
determines to study for the ministry.

But Edward Low, the boy under consideration, was a different sort of a
fellow. The life of a robber suited his youthful fancy, and he not only
adopted it at a very early age, but he stuck to it until the end of his
life. He was much stronger and bolder than the youngsters with whom he
associated, and he soon became known among them as a regular land
pirate. If a boy possessed anything which Ned Low desired, whether it
happened to be an apple, a nut, or a farthing, the young robber gave
chase to him, and treated him as a pirate treats a merchant vessel which
he has boarded.

Not only did young Low resemble a pirate in his dishonest methods, but
he also resembled one in his meanness and cruelty; if one of his victims
was supposed by him to have hidden any of the treasures which his captor
believed him to possess, Low would inflict upon him every form of
punishment which the ingenuity of a bad boy could devise, in order to
compel him to confess where he had concealed the half-penny which had
been given to him for holding a horse, or the ball with which he had
been seen playing. In the course of time this young street pirate became
a terror to all boys in that part of London in which he lived, and by
beginning so early he acquired a great proficiency in dishonest and
cruel practices.

It is likely that young Low inherited his knavish disposition, for one
of his brothers became a very bold and ingenious thief, and invented a
new kind of robbery which afterwards was popular in London. This brother
grew to be a tall fellow, and it was his practice to dress himself like
a porter,--one of those men who in those days carried packages and
parcels about the city. On his head he poised a basket, and supporting
this burden with his hands, he hurriedly made his way through the most
crowded streets of London.

The basket was a heavy one, but it did not contain any ordinary goods,
such as merchandise or marketing; but instead of these it held a very
sharp and active boy seven years old, one of the younger members of the
Low family. As the tall brother pushed rapidly here and there among the
hurrying people on the sidewalks, the boy in the basket would suddenly
stretch out with his wiry young arm, and snatch the hat or the wig of
some man who might pass near enough for him to reach him. This done, the
porter and his basket would quickly be lost in the crowd; and even if
the astonished citizen, suddenly finding himself hatless and wigless,
beheld the long-legged Low, he would have no reason to suppose that that
industrious man with the basket on his head had anything to do with the
loss of his head covering.

This new style of street robbery must have been quite profitable, for of
course the boy in the basket was well instructed, and never snatched at
a shabby hat or a poor looking wig. The elder Low came to have a good
many imitators, and it happened in the course of time that many a worthy
citizen of London wished there were some harmless way of gluing his wig
to the top of his head, or that it were the custom to secure the hat by
means of strings tied under the chin.

As Ned Low grew up to be a strong young fellow, he also grew
discontented with the pilferings and petty plunders which were possible
to him in the London streets, and so he went to sea and sailed to
America. He landed in Boston, and, as it was necessary to work in order
to eat,--for opportunities of a dishonest livelihood had not yet opened
themselves before him,--he undertook to learn the trade of a rigger, but
as he was very badly suited to any sort of steady occupation, he soon
quarrelled with his master, ran away, and got on board a vessel bound
for Honduras.

For a time he earned a livelihood by cutting logwood, but it was not
long before he quarrelled with the captain of the vessel for whom he was
working, and finally became so enraged that he tried to kill him. He did
not succeed in this dastardly attempt, but as he could not commit murder
he decided to do the next worst thing, and so gathering together twelve
of the greatest rascals among his companions, they seized a boat, went
out to the captain's schooner, which was lying near shore, and took
possession of it. Then they hoisted anchor, ran up the sail, and put out
to sea, leaving the captain and the men who were with him to take care
of themselves the best that they could and live on logwood leaves if
they could find nothing else to eat.

Now young Low was out upon the ocean in possession of a vessel and in
command of twelve sturdy scoundrels, and he did not have the least
trouble in the world in making up his mind what he should do next. As
soon as he could manufacture a black flag from materials he found on
board, he flung this ominous ensign to the breeze, and declared himself
a pirate. This was the summit of his ambition, and in this new
profession he had very little to learn. From a boy thief to a man pirate
the way is easy enough.

The logwood schooner, of course, was not provided with the cannon,
cutlasses, and pistols necessary for piratical undertakings, and
therefore Low found himself in the position of a young man beginning
business with a very small capital. So, in the hopes of providing
himself with the necessary appliances for his work, Low sailed for one
of the islands of the West Indies which was a resort for pirates, and
there he had very good fortune, for he fell in with a man named Lowther
who was already well established in the profession of piracy.

When Low sailed into the little port with his home-made black flag
floating above him, Lowther received him with the greatest courtesy and
hospitality, and shortly afterwards proposed to the newly fledged pirate
to go into partnership with him. This offer was accepted, and Low was
made second in command of the little fleet of two vessels, each of
which was well provided with arms, ammunition, and all things necessary
for robbery on the high seas.

The partnership between these two rascals did not continue very long.
They took several valuable prizes, and the more booty he obtained, the
higher became Low's opinion of himself, and the greater his desire for
independent action. Therefore it was that when they had captured a large
brigantine, Low determined that he would no longer serve under any man.
He made a bargain with Lowther by which they dissolved partnership, and
Low became the owner of the brigantine. In this vessel, with forty-four
men as a crew, he again started out in the black flag business on his
own account, and parting from his former chief officer, he sailed
northward.

As Low had landed in Boston, and had lived some time in that city, he
seems to have conceived a fancy for New England, which, however, was not
at all reciprocated by the inhabitants of that part of the country.

Among the first feats which Low performed in New England waters was the
capture of a sloop about to enter one of the ports of Rhode Island. When
he had taken everything out of this vessel which he wanted, Low cut away
the yards from the masts and stripped the vessel of all its sails and
rigging. As his object was to get away from these waters before his
presence was discovered by the people on shore, he not only made it
almost impossible to sail the vessel he had despoiled, but he wounded
the captain and others of the peaceful crew so that they should not be
able to give information to any passing craft. Then he sailed away as
rapidly as possible in the direction of the open sea. In spite, however,
of all the disadvantages under which they labored, the crew of the
merchant vessel managed to get into Block Island, and from there a small
boat was hurriedly rowed over to Rhode Island, carrying intelligence of
the bold piracy which had been committed so close to one of its ports.

When the Governor heard what had happened, he quickly sent out drummers
to sound the alarm in the seaport towns and to call upon volunteers to
go out and capture the pirates. So great was the resentment caused by
the audacious deed of Low that a large number of volunteers hastened to
offer their services to the Governor, and two vessels were fitted out
with such rapidity that, although their commanders had only heard of the
affair in the morning, they were ready to sail before sunset. They put
on all sail and made the best speed they could, and although they really
caught sight of Low's ship, the pirate vessel was a swifter craft than
those in pursuit of her, and the angry sailors of Rhode Island were at
last compelled to give up the chase.

The next of Low's transactions was on a wholesale scale. Rounding Cape
Cod and sailing up the coast, he at last reached the vicinity of
Marblehead, and there, in a harbor called in those days Port Rosemary,
he found at anchor a fleet of thirteen merchant vessels. This was a
grand sight, as welcome to the eye of a pirate as a great nugget of gold
would be to a miner who for weary days had been washing yellow grains
from the "pay dirt" which he had laboriously dug from the hard soil.

It would have been easy for Low to take his pick from these vessels
quietly resting in the little harbor, for he soon perceived that none of
them were armed nor were they able to protect themselves from assault,
but his audacity was of an expansive kind, and he determined to capture
them all. Sailing boldly into the harbor, he hoisted the dreadful black
flag, and then, standing on his quarter-deck with his speaking-trumpet,
he shouted to each vessel as he passed it that if it did not surrender
he would board it and give no quarter to captain or crew. Of course
there was nothing else for the peaceful sailors to do but to submit, and
so this greedy pirate took possession of each vessel in turn and
stripped it of everything of value he cared to take away.

But he did not confine himself to stealing the goods on board these
merchantmen. As he preferred to command several vessels instead of one,
he took possession of some of the best of the ships and compelled as
many of their men as he thought he would need to enter his service.
Then, as one of the captured vessels was larger and better than his
brigantine, he took it for his own ship, and at the head of the little
pirate fleet he bid farewell to Marblehead and started out on a grand
cruise against the commerce of our coast.

It is wonderful how rapidly this man Low succeeded in his business
enterprises. Beginning with a little vessel with a dozen unarmed men, he
found himself in a very short time at the head of what was perhaps the
largest piratical force in American waters. What might have happened if
Nature had not taken a hand in this game it is not difficult to imagine,
for our seaboard towns, especially those of the South, would have been
an easy prey to Low and his fleet.

But sailing down to the West Indies, probably in order to fit out his
ships with guns, arms, and ammunition before beginning a naval campaign,
his fleet was overtaken by a terrible storm, and in order to save the
vessels they were obliged to throw overboard a great many of the heavier
goods they had captured at Marblehead, and when at last they found
shelter in the harbor of a small island, they were glad that they had
escaped with their lives.

The grasping and rapacious Low was not now in a condition to proceed to
any rendezvous of pirates where he might purchase the arms and supplies
he needed. A great part of his valuable plunder had gone to the bottom
of the sea, and he was therefore obliged to content himself with
operations upon a comparatively small scale.

How small and contemptible this scale was it is scarcely possible for an
ordinary civilized being to comprehend, but the soul of this ignoble
pirate was capable of extraordinary baseness.

When he had repaired the damage to his ships, Low sailed out from the
island, and before long he fell in with a wrecked vessel which had lost
all its masts in a great storm, and was totally disabled, floating about
wherever the winds chose to blow it. The poor fellows on board greatly
needed succor, and there is no doubt that when they saw the approach of
sails their hopes rose high, and even if they had known what sort of
ships they were which were making their way toward them, they would
scarcely have suspected that the commander of these goodly vessels was
such an utterly despicable scoundrel as he proved to be.

Instead of giving any sort of aid to the poor shipwrecked crew, Low and
his men set to work to plunder their vessel, and they took from it a
thousand pounds in money, and everything of value which they could find
on board. Having thus stripped the unfortunate wreck, they departed,
leaving the captain and crew of the disabled vessel to perish by storm
or starvation, unless some other vessel, manned by human beings and not
pitiless beasts, should pass their way and save them.

Low now commenced a long series of piratical depredations. He captured
many merchantmen, he committed the vilest cruelties upon his victims,
and in every way proved himself to be one of the meanest and most
black-hearted pirates of whom we have any account. It is not necessary
to relate his various dastardly performances. They were all very much of
the same order, and none of them possessed any peculiar interest; his
existence is referred to in these pages because he was one of the most
noted and successful pirates of his time, and also because his career
indicated how entirely different was the character of the buccaneers of
previous days from that of the pirates who in the eighteenth century
infested our coast. The first might have been compared to bold and
dashing highwaymen, who at least showed courage and daring; but the
others resembled sneak thieves, always seeking to commit a crime if they
could do it in safety, but never willing to risk their cowardly necks in
any danger.

The buccaneers of the olden days were certainly men of the greatest
bravery. They did not hesitate to attack well-armed vessels manned by
crews much larger than their own, and in later periods they faced cannon
and conquered cities. Their crimes were many and vile; but when they
committed cruelties they did so in order to compel their prisoners to
disclose their hidden treasures, and when they attacked a Spanish
vessel, and murdered all on board, they had in their hearts the
remembrance that the Spanish naval forces gave no quarter to buccaneers.

But pirates such as Edward Low showed not one palliating feature in
their infamous characters. To rob and desert a shipwrecked crew was only
one of Low's contemptible actions. It appears that he seldom attacked a
vessel from which there seemed to be any probability of resistance, and
we read of no notable combats or sea-fights in which he was engaged. He
preyed upon the weak and defenceless, and his inhuman cruelties were
practised, not for the sake of extorting gain from his victims, but
simply to gratify his spite and love of wickedness.

There were men among Low's followers who looked upon him as a bold and
brave leader, for he was always a blusterer and a braggart, and there
were honest seamen and merchants who were very much afraid of him, but
time proved that there was no reason for any one to suppose that Edward
Low had a spark of courage in his composition. He was brave enough when
he was attacking an unarmed crew, but when he had to deal with any
vessel capable of inflicting any injury upon him he was a coward indeed.

Sailing in company with one companion vessel,--for he had discarded the
greater part of his pirate fleet,--Low sighted a good-sized ship at a
considerable distance, and he and his consort immediately gave chase,
supposing the distant vessel might prove to be a good prize. It so
happened, however, that the ship discovered by Low was an English
man-of-war, the _Greyhound_, which was cruising along the coast looking
for these very pirates, who had recently committed some outrageous
crimes upon the crews of merchant vessels in those waters.

When the two ships, with the black flags floating above them and their
decks crowded with desperate fellows armed with pistols and cutlasses,
drew near to the vessel, of which they expected to make a prize, they
were greatly amazed when she suddenly turned in her course and delivered
a broadside from her heavy cannon. The pirates returned the fire, for
they were well armed with cannon, and there was nothing else for them to
do but fight, but the combat was an extremely short one. Low's consort
was soon disabled by the fire from the man-of-war, and, as soon as he
perceived this, the dastardly Low, without any regard for his
companions in arms, and with no thought for anything but his own safety,
immediately stopped fighting, and setting all sail, sped away from the
scene of combat as swiftly as it was possible for the wind to force his
vessel through the water.

The disabled pirate ship was quickly captured, and not long afterwards
twenty-five of her crew were tried, convicted, and hung near Newport,
Rhode Island. But the arrant Low escaped without injury, and continued
his career of contemptible crime for some time longer. What finally
became of him is not set down in the histories of piracy. It is not
improbable that if the men under his command were not too brutally
stupid to comprehend his cowardly unfaithfulness to them, they suddenly
removed from this world one of the least interesting of all base
beings.




Chapter XXX

The Pirate of the Gulf


At the beginning of this century there was a very able and, indeed,
talented man living on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, who has been
set down in the historical records of the times as a very important
pirate, and who is described in story and in tradition as a gallant and
romantic freebooter of the sea. This man was Jean Lafitte, widely known
as "The Pirate of the Gulf," and yet who was, in fact, so little of a
pirate, that it may be doubted whether or not he deserves a place in
these stories of American pirates.

Lafitte was a French blacksmith, and, while still a young man, he came
with his two brothers to New Orleans, and set up a shop in Bourbon
Street, where he did a good business in horseshoeing and in other
branches of his trade. But he had a soul which soared high above his
anvil and his bellows, and perceiving an opportunity to take up a very
profitable occupation, he gave up blacksmithing, and with his two
brothers as partners became a superintendent of privateering and a
general manager of semi-legalized piracy. The business opportunity which
came to the watchful and clear-sighted Lafitte may be briefly described.

In the early years of this century the Gulf of Mexico was the scene of
operations of small vessels calling themselves privateers, but in fact
pirates. War had broken out between England and Spain, on the one side,
and France on the other, and consequently the first-named nations were
very glad to commission privateers to prey upon the commerce of France.
There were also privateers who had been sent out by some of the Central
American republics who had thrown off the Spanish yoke, and these,
considering Spanish vessels as their proper booty, were very much
inclined to look upon English vessels in the same light, as the English
and Spanish were allies. And when a few French privateers came also upon
the scene, they helped to make the business of legitimate capture of
merchantmen, during the time of war, a very complicated affair.

But upon one point these privateers, who so often acted as pirates,
because they had not the spare time in which to work out difficult
problems of nationality, were all agreed: when they had loaded their
ships with booty, they must sail to some place where it would be safe to
dispose of it. So, in course of time, the bay of Barrataria, about
forty miles south of New Orleans and very well situated for an illegal
settlement, was chosen as a privateers' port, and a large and
flourishing colony soon grew up at the head of the bay, to which came
privateers of every nationality to dispose of their cargoes.

Of course there was no one in the comparatively desolate country about
Barrataria who could buy the valuable goods which were brought into that
port, but the great object of the owners of this merchandise was to
smuggle it up to New Orleans and dispose of it. But there could be no
legitimate traffic of this sort, for the United States at the very
beginning of the century was at peace with England, France, and Spain,
and therefore could not receive into any of her ports, goods which had
been captured from the ships of these nations. Consequently the plunder
of the privateering pirates of Barrataria was brought up to New Orleans
in all sorts of secret and underhand fashions, and sold to merchants in
that city, without the custom house having anything to do with the
importations.

Now this was great business; Jean Lafitte had a great business mind, and
therefore it was not long after his arrival at Barrataria before he was
the head man in the colony, and director-in-chief of all its operations.
Thus, by becoming a prominent figure in a piratical circle, he came to
be considered a pirate, and as such came down to us in the pages of
history.

But, in fact, Lafitte never committed an act of piracy in his life; he
was a blacksmith, and knew no more about sailing a ship or even the
smallest kind of a boat than he knew about the proper construction of a
sonnet. He did not even try, like the celebrated Bonnet, to find other
people who would navigate a vessel for him, for he had no taste for the
ocean wave, and all that he had to do he did upon firm, dry land. It is
said of him that he was never at sea but twice in his life: once when he
came from France, and once when he left this country, and on neither
occasion did he sail under the "Jolly Roger," as the pirate flag was
sometimes called. For these reasons it seems scarcely right to call
Lafitte a pirate, but as he has been so generally considered in that
light, we will admit him into the bad company, the stories of whose
lives we are now telling.

The energy and business abilities of Jean Lafitte soon made themselves
felt not only in Barrataria, but in New Orleans. The privateers found
that he managed their affairs with much discretion and considerable
fairness, and, while they were willing to depend upon him, they were
obliged to obey him.

On the other hand, the trade of New Orleans was very much influenced by
the great quantities of goods which under Lafitte's directions were
smuggled into the city. Many merchants and shopkeepers who possessed no
consciences to speak of were glad to buy these smuggled goods for very
little money and to sell them at low prices and large profits, but the
respectable business men, who were obliged to pay market prices for
their goods, were greatly disturbed by the large quantities of
merchandise which were continually smuggled into New Orleans and sold at
rates with which they could not compete.

It was toward the end of our war with England, which began in 1812, that
the government of the United States, urged to speedy action by the
increasing complaints of the law-abiding merchants of New Orleans,
determined to send out a small naval force and entirely break up the
illegitimate rendezvous at Barrataria.

Lafitte's two brothers were in New Orleans acting as his agents, and one
of them, Dominique, was arrested and thrown into prison, and Commodore
Patterson, who was commanding at that station, was ordered to fit out an
expedition as quickly as possible to sail down to Barrataria to destroy
the ships found in the bay, to capture the town, and to confiscate and
seize upon all goods which might be found in the place.

When Jean Lafitte heard of the vigorous methods which were about to be
taken against him, his prospects must have been very gloomy ones, for
of course he could not defend his little colony against a regular naval
force, which, although its large vessels could not sail into the shallow
bay, could send out boats with armed crews against which it would be
foolish for him to contend. But just about this time a very strange
thing happened.

A strong English naval force had taken possession of Pensacola, Florida,
and as an attack upon New Orleans was contemplated, the British
commander, knowing of Lafitte's colony at Barrataria, and believing that
these hardy and reckless adventurers would be very valuable allies in
the proposed movement upon the city, determined to send an ambassador to
Lafitte to see what could be done in the way of forming an alliance with
this powerful leader of semi-pirates and smugglers.

Accordingly, the sloop of war _Sophia_, commanded by Captain Lockyer,
was sent to Barrataria to treat with Lafitte, and when this vessel
arrived off the mouth of the harbor, which she could not enter, she
began firing signal guns in order to attract the attention of the people
of the colony. Naturally enough, the report of the _Sophia's_ guns
created a great excitement in Barrataria, and all the people who
happened to be at the settlement at that time crowded out upon the beach
to see what they could see. But the war-vessel was too far away for them
to distinguish her nationality, and Lafitte quickly made up his mind
that the only thing for him to do was to row out to the mouth of the
harbor and see what was the matter. Without doubt he feared that this
was the United States vessel which had come to break up his settlement.
But whether this was the case or not, he must go out and try the effect
of fair words, for he had no desire whatever to defend his interests by
hard blows.

Before Lafitte reached the vessel he was surprised to find it was a
British man-of-war, not an American, and very soon he saw that a boat
was coming from it and rowing toward him. This boat contained Captain
Lockyer and two other officers, besides the men who rowed it; when the
two boats met, the captain told who he was, and asked if Mr. Lafitte
could be found in Barrataria, stating that he had an important document
to deliver to him. The cautious Frenchman did not immediately admit that
he was the man for whom the document was intended, but he said that
Lafitte was at Barrataria, and as the two boats rowed together toward
shore, he thought it would be as well to announce his position, and did
so.

When the crowd of privateersmen saw the officers in British uniform
landing upon their beach, they were not inclined to receive them kindly,
for an attack had been made upon the place by a small British force
some time before, and a good deal of damage had been done. But Lafitte
quieted the angry feelings of his followers, conducted the officers to
his own house, and treated them with great hospitality, which he was
able to do in fine style, for his men brought into Barrataria luxuries
from all parts of the world.

When Lafitte opened the package of papers which Captain Lockyer handed
to him, he was very much surprised. Some of them were general
proclamations announcing the intention of Great Britain if the people of
Louisiana did not submit to her demands; but the most important document
was one in which Colonel Nichols, commander-in-chief of the British
forces in the Gulf, made an offer to Lafitte and his followers to become
a part of the British navy, promising to give amnesty to all the
inhabitants of Barrataria, to make their leader a captain in the navy,
and to do a great many other good things, provided they would join his
forces, and help him to attack the American seaports. In case, however,
this offer should be refused, the Barratarians were assured that their
place would speedily be attacked, their vessels destroyed, and all their
possessions confiscated.

Lafitte was now in a state of great perplexity. He did not wish to
become a British captain, for his knowledge of horseshoeing would be of
no service to him in such a capacity; moreover, he had no love for the
British, and his sympathies were all on the side of the United States in
this war. But here he was with the British commander asking him to
become an ally, and to take up arms against the United States,
threatening at the same time to destroy him and his colony in case of
refusal. On the other hand, there was the United States at that moment
preparing an expedition for the purpose of breaking up the settlement at
Barrataria, and to do everything which the British threatened to do, in
case Lafitte did not agree to their proposals.

The chief of Barrataria might have made a poor show with a cutlass and a
brace of pistols, but he was a long-headed and sagacious man, with a
strong tendency to practical diplomacy. He was in a bad scrape, and he
must act with decision and promptness, if he wanted to get out of it.

The first thing he did was to gain time by delaying his answer to the
proposition brought by Captain Lockyer. He assured that officer that he
must consult with his people and see what they would do, and that he
must also get rid of some truculent members of the colony, who would
never agree to act in concert with England, and that therefore he should
not be able to give an answer to Colonel Nichols for two weeks. Captain
Lockyer saw for himself that it would not be an easy matter to induce
these independent and unruly fellows, many of whom already hated
England, to enter into the British service. Therefore he thought it
would be wise to allow Lafitte the time he asked for, and he sailed
away, promising to return in fifteen days.

The diplomatic Lafitte, having finished for a time his negotiations with
the British, lost no time in communicating with the American
authorities. He sent to Governor Claiborne, of Louisiana, all the
documents he had received from Captain Lockyer, and wrote him a letter
in which he told him everything that had happened, and thus gave to the
United States the first authentic information of the proposed attack
upon Mobile and New Orleans. He then told the Governor that he had no
intention of fighting against the country he had adopted; that he was
perfectly willing and anxious to aid her in every manner possible, and
that he and his followers would gladly join the United States against
the British, asking nothing in return except that all proceedings
against Barrataria should be abandoned, that amnesty should be given to
him and his men, that his brother should be released from prison, and
that an act of oblivion should be passed by which the deeds of the
smugglers of Barrataria should be condoned and forgotten.

Furthermore, he said that if the United States government did not
accede to his proposition, he would immediately depart from Barrataria
with all his men; for no matter what loss such a proceeding might prove
to him he would not remain in a place where he might be forced to act
against the United States. Lafitte also wrote to a member of the
Louisiana Legislature, and his letters were well calculated to produce a
very good effect in his favor.

The Governor immediately called a council, and submitted the papers and
letters received from Lafitte. When these had been read, two points were
considered by the council, the first being that the letters and
proclamations from the British might be forgeries concocted by Lafitte
for the purpose of averting the punishment which was threatened by the
United States; and the second, whether or not it would be consistent
with the dignity of the government to treat with this leader of pirates
and smugglers.

The consultation resulted in a decision not to have anything to do with
Lafitte in the way of negotiations, and to hurry forward the
preparations which had been made for the destruction of the dangerous
and injurious settlement at Barrataria. In consequence of this action of
the council, Commodore Patterson sailed in a very few days down the
Mississippi and attacked the pirate settlement at Barrataria with such
effect that most of her ships were taken, many prisoners and much
valuable merchandise captured, and the whole place utterly destroyed.
Lafitte, with the greater part of his men, had fled to the woods, and so
escaped capture.

Captain Lockyer at the appointed time arrived off the harbor of
Barrataria and blazed away with his signal guns for forty-eight hours,
but receiving no answer, and fearing to send a boat into the harbor,
suspecting treachery on the part of Lafitte, he was obliged to depart in
ignorance of what had happened.

When the papers and letters which had been sent to Governor Claiborne by
Lafitte were made public, the people of Louisiana and the rest of the
country did not at all agree with the Governor and his council in regard
to their decision and their subsequent action, and Edward Livingston, a
distinguished lawyer of New York, took the part of Lafitte and argued
very strongly in favor of his loyalty and honesty in the affair.

Even when it was discovered that all the information which Lafitte had
sent was perfectly correct, and that a formidable attack was about to be
made upon New Orleans, General Jackson, who was in command in that part
of the country, issued a very savage proclamation against the British
method of making war, and among their wicked deeds he mentioned nothing
which seemed to him to be worse than their endeavor to employ against
the citizens of the United States the band of "hellish banditti"
commanded by Jean Lafitte!

But public opinion was strongly in favor of the ex-pirate of the Gulf,
and as things began to look more and more serious in regard to New
Orleans, General Jackson was at last very glad, in spite of all that he
had said, to accept the renewed offers of Lafitte and his men to assist
in the defence of the city, and in consequence of his change of mind
many of the former inhabitants of Barrataria fought in the battle of New
Orleans and did good work. Their services were so valuable, in fact,
that when the war closed President Madison issued a proclamation in
which it was stated that the former inhabitants of Barrataria, in
consequence of having abandoned their wicked ways of life, and having
assisted in the defence of their country, were now granted full pardon
for all the evil deeds they had previously committed.

Now Lafitte and his men were free and independent citizens of the United
States; they could live where they pleased without fear of molestation,
and could enter into any sort of legal business which suited their
fancy, but this did not satisfy Lafitte. He had endeavored to take a
prompt and honest stand on the side of his country; his offers had been
treated with contempt and disbelief; he had been branded as a deceitful
knave, and no disposition had been shown to act justly toward him until
his services became so necessary to the government that it was obliged
to accept them.

Consequently, Lafitte, accompanied by some of his old adherents,
determined to leave a country where his loyalty had received such
unsatisfactory recognition, and to begin life again in some other part
of the American continent. Not long after the war he sailed out upon the
Gulf of Mexico,--for what destination it is not known, but probably for
some Central American port,--and as nothing was ever heard of him or his
party, it is believed by many persons that they all perished in the
great storm which arose soon after their departure. There were other
persons, however, who stated that he reached Yucatan, where he died on
dry land in 1826.

But the end of Lafitte is no more doubtful than his right to the title
given to him by people of a romantic turn of mind, and other persons of
a still more fanciful disposition might be willing to suppose that the
Gulf of Mexico, indignant at the undeserved distinction which had come
to him, had swallowed him up in order to put an end to his pretension to
the title of "The Pirate of the Gulf."




Chapter XXXI

The Pirate of the Buried Treasure


Among all the pirates who have figured in history, legend, or song,
there is one whose name stands preeminent as the typical hero of the
dreaded black flag. The name of this man will instantly rise in the mind
of almost every reader, for when we speak of pirates we always think of
Captain Kidd.

In fact, however, Captain Kidd was not a typical pirate, for in many
ways he was different from the ordinary marine freebooter, especially
when we consider him in relation to our own country. All other pirates
who made themselves notorious on our coast were known as robbers,
pillagers, and ruthless destroyers of life and property, but Captain
Kidd's fame was of another kind. We do not think of him as a pirate who
came to carry away the property of American citizens, for nearly all the
stories about him relate to his arrival at different points on our
shores for the sole purpose of burying and thus concealing the rich
treasures which he had collected in other parts of the world.

This novel reputation given a pirate who enriched our shore by his
deposits and took away none of the possessions of our people could not
fail to make Captain Kidd a most interesting personage, and the result
has been that he has been lifted out of the sphere of ordinary history
and description into the region of imagination and legendary romance. In
a word, he has been made a hero of fiction and song. It may be well,
then, to assume that there are two Captain Kidds,--one the Kidd of
legend and story, and the other the Kidd of actual fact, and we will
consider, one at a time, the two characters in which we know the man.

As has been said before, nearly all the stories of the legendary Captain
Kidd relate to his visits along our northern coast, and even to inland
points, for the purpose of concealing the treasures which had been
amassed in other parts of the world.

Thus if we were to find ourselves in almost any village or rural
settlement along the coast of New Jersey or Long Island, and were to
fall in with any old resident who was fond of talking to strangers, he
would probably point out to us the blackened and weather-beaten ribs of
a great ship which had been wrecked on the sand bar off the coast during
a terrible storm long ago; he would show us where the bathing was
pleasant and safe; he would tell us of the best place for fishing, and
probably show us the high bluff a little back from the beach from which
the Indian maiden leaped to escape the tomahawk of her enraged lover,
and then he would be almost sure to tell us of the secluded spot where
it was said Captain Kidd and his pirates once buried a lot of treasure.

If we should ask our garrulous guide why this treasure had not been dug
up by the people of the place, he would probably shake his head and
declare that personally he knew nothing about it, but that it was
generally believed that it was there, and he had heard that there had
been people who had tried to find it, but if they did find any they
never said anything about it, and it was his opinion that if Captain
Kidd ever put any gold or silver or precious stones under the ground on
that part of the coast these treasures were all there yet.

Further questioning would probably develop the fact that there was a
certain superstition which prevented a great many people from
interfering with the possible deposits which Captain Kidd had made in
their neighborhood, and although few persons would be able to define
exactly the foundation of the superstition, it was generally supposed
that most of the pirates' treasures were guarded by pirate ghosts. In
that case, of course, timid individuals would be deterred from going
out by themselves at night,--for that was the proper time to dig for
buried treasure,--and as it would not have been easy to get together a
number of men each brave enough to give the others courage, many of the
spots reputed to be the repositories of buried treasure have never been
disturbed.

In spite of the fear of ghosts, in spite of the want of accurate
knowledge in regard to favored localities, in spite of hardships,
previous disappointments, or expected ridicule, a great many extensive
excavations have been made in the sands or the soil along the coasts of
our northern states, and even in quiet woods lying miles from the sea,
to which it would have been necessary for the pirates to carry their
goods in wagons, people have dug and hoped and have gone away sadly to
attend to more sensible business, and far up some of our rivers--where a
pirate vessel never floated--people have dug with the same hopeful
anxiety, and have stopped digging in the same condition of dejected
disappointment.

Sometimes these enterprises were conducted on a scale which reminds us
of the operations on the gold coast of California. Companies were
organized, stock was issued and subscribed for, and the excavations were
conducted under the direction of skilful treasure-seeking engineers.

It is said that not long ago a company was organized in Nova Scotia for
the purpose of seeking for Captain Kidd's treasures in a place which it
is highly probable Captain Kidd never saw. A great excavation having
been made, the water from the sea came in and filled it up, but the work
was stopped only long enough to procure steam pumps with which the big
hole could be drained. At last accounts the treasures had not been
reached, and this incident is mentioned only to show how this belief in
buried treasures continues even to the present day.

There is a legend which differs somewhat from the ordinary run of these
stories, and it is told about a little island on the coast of Cape Cod,
which is called Hannah Screecher's Island, and this is the way its name
came to it.

Captain Kidd while sailing along the coast, looking for a suitable place
to bury some treasure, found this island adapted to his purpose, and
landed there with his savage crew, and his bags and boxes, and his gold
and precious stones. It was said to be the habit of these pirates,
whenever they made a deposit on the coast, to make the hole big enough
not only to hold the treasure they wished to deposit there, but the body
of one of the crew,--who was buried with the valuables in order that his
spirit might act as a day and night watchman to frighten away people who
might happen to be digging in that particular spot.

The story relates that somewhere on the coast Captain Kidd had captured
a young lady named Hannah, and not knowing what to do with her, and
desiring not to commit an unnecessary extravagance by disposing of a
useful sailor, he determined to kill Hannah, and bury her with the
treasure, in order that she might keep away intruders until he came for
it.

It was very natural that when Hannah was brought on shore and found out
what was going to be done with her, she should screech in a most
dreadful manner, and although the pirates soon silenced her and covered
her up, they did not succeed in silencing her spirit, and ever since
that time,--according to the stories told by some of the older
inhabitants of Cape Cod,--there may be heard in the early dusk of the
evening the screeches of Hannah coming across the water from her little
island to the mainland.

Mr. James Herbert Morse has written a ballad founded upon this peculiar
incident, and with the permission of the author we give it here:--

          THE LADY HANNAH.

    "Now take my hand," quoth Captain Kidd,
      "The air is blithe, I scent the meads."
    He led her up the starlit sands,
      Out of the rustling reeds.

    The great white owl then beat his breast,
      Athwart the cedars whirred and flew;
    "There's death in our handsome captain's eye"
      Murmured the pirate's crew.

    And long they lay upon their oars
      And cursed the silence and the chill;
    They cursed the wail of the rising wind,
      For no man dared be still.

    Of ribald songs they sang a score
      To stifle the midnight sobs and sighs,
    They told wild tales of the Indian Main,
      To drown the far-off cries.

    But when they ceased, and Captain Kidd
      Came down the sands of Dead Neck Isle,
    "My lady wearies," he grimly said,
      "And she would rest awhile.

    "I've made her a bed--'tis here, 'tis there,
      And she shall wake, be it soon or long,
    Where grass is green and wild birds sing
      And the wind makes undersong.

    "Be quick, my men, and give a hand,
      She loved soft furs and silken stuff,
    Jewels of gold and silver bars,
      And she shall have enough.

    "With silver bars and golden ore,
      So fine a lady she shall be,
    A many suitor shall seek her long,
      As they sought Penelope.

    "And if a lover would win her hand,
      No lips e'er kissed a hand so white,
    And if a lover would hear her sing,
      She sings at owlet light.

    "But if a lover would win her gold,
      And his hands be strong to lift the lid,
    'Tis here, 'tis there, 'tis everywhere--
      In the chest," quoth Captain Kidd.

    They lifted long, they lifted well,
      Ingots of gold, and silver bars,
      And silken plunder from wild, wild wars,
    But where they laid them, no man can tell,
      Though known to a thousand stars.

But the ordinary Kidd stories are very much the same, and depend a good
deal upon the character of the coast and upon the imagination of the
people who live in that region. We will give one of them as a sample,
and from this a number of very good pirate stories could be manufactured
by ingenious persons.

It was a fine summer night late in the seventeenth century. A young man
named Abner Stout, in company with his wife Mary, went out for a walk
upon the beach. They lived in a little village near the coast of New
Jersey. Abner was a good carpenter, but a poor man; but he and his wife
were very happy with each other, and as they walked toward the sea in
the light of the full moon, no young lovers could have been more gay.

When they reached a little bluff covered with low shrubbery, which was
the first spot from which they could have a full view of the ocean,
Abner suddenly stopped, and pointed out to Mary an unusual sight. There,
as plainly in view as if it had been broad daylight, was a vessel lying
at the entrance of the little bay. The sails were furled, and it was
apparently anchored.

For a minute Abner gazed in utter amazement at the sight of this vessel,
for no ships, large or small, came to this little lonely bay. There was
a harbor two or three miles farther up the coast to which all trading
craft repaired. What could the strange ship want here?

This unusual visitor to the little bay was a very low and very long,
black schooner, with tall masts which raked forward, and with something
which looked very much like a black flag fluttering in its rigging. Now
the truth struck into the soul of Abner. "Hide yourself, Mary," he
whispered. "It is a pirate ship!" And almost at the same instant the
young man and his wife laid themselves flat on the ground among the
bushes, but they were very careful, each of them, to take a position
which would allow them to peep out through the twigs and leaves upon the
scene before them.

There seemed to be a good deal of commotion on board the black schooner,
and very soon a large boat pushed off from her side, and the men in it
began rowing rapidly toward the shore, apparently making for a spot on
the beach, not far from the bluff on which Abner and Mary were
concealed. "Let us get up and run," whispered Mary, trembling from head
to toe. "They are pirates, and they are coming here!"

"Lie still! Lie still!" said Abner. "If we get up and leave these
bushes, we shall be seen, and then they will be after us! Lie still, and
do not move a finger!"

The trembling Mary obeyed her husband, and they both lay quite still,
scarcely breathing, with eyes wide open. The boat rapidly approached the
shore. Abner counted ten men rowing and one man sitting in the stern.
The boat seemed to be heavily loaded, and the oarsmen rowed hard.

Now the boat was run through the surf to the beach, and its eleven
occupants jumped out. There was no mistaking their character. They were
true pirates. They had great cutlasses and pistols, and one of them was
very tall and broad shouldered, and wore an old-fashioned cocked hat.

"That's Captain Kidd," whispered Abner to his wife, and she pressed his
hand to let him know that she thought he must be right.

Now the men came up high upon the beach, and began looking about here
and there as if they were searching for something. Mary was filled with
horror for fear they should come to that bluff to search, but Abner knew
there was no danger of that. They had probably come to those shores to
bury treasure, as if they were great sea-turtles coming up upon the
beach to lay their eggs, and they were now looking for some good spot
where they might dig.

Presently the tall man gave some orders in a low voice, and then his men
left him to himself, and went back to the boat. There was a great pine
tree standing back a considerable distance from the water, battered and
racked by storms, but still a tough old tree. Toward this the pirate
captain stalked, and standing close to it, with his back against it, he
looked up into the sky. It was plain that he was looking for a star.
There were very few of these luminaries to be seen in the heavens, for
the moon was so bright. But as Abner looked in the direction in which
the pirate captain gazed, he saw a star still bright in spite of the
moonlight.

With his eyes fixed upon this star, the pirate captain now stepped
forward, making long strides. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
Then he stopped, plunged his right heel in the soft ground, and turned
squarely about to the left, so that his broad back was now parallel
with a line drawn from the pine tree to the star.

At right angles to this line the pirate now stepped forward, making as
before seven long paces. Then he stopped, dug his heel into the ground,
and beckoned to his men. Up they came running, carrying picks and
spades, and with great alacrity they began to dig at the place where the
captain had marked with his heel.

It was plain that these pirates were used to making excavations, for it
was not long before the hole was so deep that those within it could not
be seen. Then the captain gave an order to cease digging, and he and all
the pirates went back to the boat.

For about half an hour,--though Mary thought it was a longer time than
that,--those pirates worked very hard carrying great boxes and bags from
the boat to the excavation. When everything had been brought up, two of
the pirates went down into the hole, and the others handed to them the
various packages. Skilfully and quickly they worked, doubtless storing
their goods with great care, until nearly everything which had been
brought from the boat had been placed in the deep hole. Some rolls of
goods were left upon the ground which Mary thought were carpets, but
which Abner believed to be rich Persian rugs, or something of that
kind.

Now the captain stepped aside, and picking up from the sand some little
sticks and reeds, he selected ten of them, and with these in one hand,
and with their ends protruding a short distance above his closed
fingers, he rejoined his men. They gathered before him, and he held out
toward them the hand which contained the little sticks.

"They're drawing lots!" gasped Abner, and Mary trembled more than she
had done yet.

Now the lots were all drawn, and one man, apparently a young pirate,
stepped out from among his fellows. His head was bowed, and his arms
were folded across his manly chest. The captain spoke a few words, and
the young pirate advanced alone to the side of the deep hole.

Mary now shut her eyes tight, tight; but Abner's were wide open. There
was a sudden gleam of cutlasses in the air; there was one short,
plaintive groan, and the body of the young pirate fell into the hole.
Instantly all the other goods, furs, rugs, or whatever they were, were
tumbled in upon him. Then the men began to shovel in the earth and sand,
and in an incredibly short time the hole was filled up even with the
ground about it.

Of course all the earth and sand which had been taken out of the hole
could not now be put back into it. But these experienced treasure-hiders
knew exactly what to do with it. A spadeful at a time, the soil which
could not be replaced was carried to the sea, and thrown out into the
water, and when the whole place had been carefully smoothed over, the
pirates gathered sticks and stones, and little bushes, and great masses
of wild cranberry vines, and scattered them about over the place so that
it soon looked exactly like the rest of the beach about it.

Then the tall captain gave another low command, the pirates returned to
their boat, it was pushed off, and rapidly rowed back to the schooner.
Up came the anchor, up went the dark sails. The low, black schooner was
put about, and very soon she was disappearing over the darkening waters,
her black flag fluttering fiercely high above her.

"Now, let us run," whispered poor Mary, who, although she had not seen
everything, imagined a great deal; for as the pirates were getting into
their boat she had opened her eyes and had counted them, and there were
only nine beside the tall captain.

Abner thought that her advice was very good, and starting up out of the
brushwood they hastened home as fast as their legs would carry them.

[Illustration: "Two of the pirates went down into the hole."--p. 302.]

The next day Abner seemed to be a changed man. He had work to do, but he
neglected it. Never had such a thing happened before! For hours he sat
in front of the house, looking up into the sky, counting one, two,
three, four, five, six, seven. Then he would twist himself around on
the little bench, and count seven more.

This worthy couple lived in a small house which had a large cellar, and
during the afternoon of that day Abner busied himself in clearing out
this cellar, and taking out of it everything which it had contained. His
wife asked no questions. In her soul she knew what Abner was thinking
about.

Supper was over, and most of the people in the village were thinking of
going to bed, when Abner said to Mary, "Let us each take a spade, and I
will carry a pail, and we will go out upon the beach for a walk. If any
one should see us, they would think that we were going to dig for
clams."

"Oh, no, dear Abner!" cried Mary. "We must not dig there! Think of that
young pirate. Almost the first thing we would come to would be him!"

"I have thought of that," said Abner; "but do you not believe that the
most Christian act that you and I could do would be to take him out and
place him in a proper grave near by?"

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Mary, "do not say such a thing as that! Think of his
ghost! They killed him and put him there, that his ghost might guard
their treasure. You know, Abner, as well as I do, that this is their
dreadful fashion!"

"I know all about that," said Abner, "and that is the reason I wish to
go to-night. I do not believe there has yet been time enough for his
ghost to form. But let us take him out now, dear Mary, and lay him
reverently away,--and then!" He looked at her with flashing eyes.

"But, Abner," said she, "do you think we have the right?"

"Of course we have," said he. "Those treasures do not belong to the
pirates. If we take them they are treasure-trove, and legally ours. And
think, dear Mary, how poor we are to-night, and how rich we may be
to-morrow! Come, get the pail. We must be off."

Running nearly all the way,--for they were in such a hurry they could
not walk,--Abner and Mary soon reached the bluff, and hastily scrambling
down to the beach below, they stood upon the dreadful spot where Captain
Kidd and his pirates had stood the night before. There was the old
battered pine tree, reaching out two of its bare arms encouragingly
toward them.

Without loss of time Abner walked up to the tree, put his back to it,
and then looked up into the sky. Now he called Mary to him. "Which star
do you think he looked at, good wife?" said he. "There is a bright one
low down, and then there is another one a little higher up, and farther
to the right, but it is fainter."

"It would be the bright one, I think," said Mary. And then Abner, his
eyes fixed upon the bright star, commenced to stride. One, two, three,
four, five, six, seven. Turning squarely around to the left he again
made seven paces. And now he beckoned vigorously to Mary to come and
dig.

For about ten minutes they dug, and then they laid bare a great mass of
rock. "This isn't the place," cried Abner. "I must begin again. I did
not look at the right star. I will take the other one."

For the greater part of that night Abner and Mary remained upon the
beach. Abner would put his back against the tree, fix his eyes upon
another star, stride forward seven paces, and then seven to the left,
and he would come upon a little scrubby pine tree. Of course that was
not the place.

The moon soon began to set, and more stars came out, so that Abner had a
greater choice. Again and again he made his measurements, and every time
that he came to the end of his second seven paces, he found that it
would have been impossible for the pirates to make their excavation
there.

There was clearly something wrong. Abner thought that he had not
selected the right star, and Mary thought that his legs were not long
enough. "That pirate captain," quoth she, "had a long and manly stride.
Seven of his paces would go a far greater distance than seven of yours,
Abner."

Abner made his paces a little longer; but although he and his wife kept
up their work until they could see the early dawn, they found no spot
where it would be worth while to dig, and so mournfully they returned to
their home and their empty cellar.

As long as the moonlight lasted, Abner and Mary went to the little beach
at the head of the bay, and made their measurements and their searches
but although they sometimes dug a little here and there, they always
found that they had not struck the place where the pirate's treasure had
been buried.

When at last they gave up their search, and concluded to put their
household goods back into their cellar, they told the tale to some of
the neighbors, and other people went out and dug, not only at the place
which had been designated, but miles up and down the coast, and then the
story was told and retold, and so it has lasted until the present day.

What has been said about the legendary Captain Kidd will give a very
good idea of the estimation in which this romantic being has been, and
still is, held in various parts of the country, and, of all the
legitimate legends about him, there is not one which recounts his
piratical deeds upon our coast. The reason for this will be seen when we
consider, in the next chapter, the life and character of the real
Captain Kidd.




Chapter XXXII

The Real Captain Kidd


William Kidd, or Robert Kidd, as he is sometimes called, was a sailor in
the merchant service who had a wife and family in New York. He was a
very respectable man and had a good reputation as a seaman, and about
1690, when there was war between England and France, Kidd was given the
command of a privateer, and having had two or three engagements with
French vessels he showed himself to be a brave fighter and a prudent
commander.

Some years later he sailed to England, and, while there, he received an
appointment of a peculiar character. It was at the time when the King of
England was doing his best to put down the pirates of the American
coast, and Sir George Bellomont, the recently appointed Governor of New
York, recommended Captain Kidd as a very suitable man to command a ship
to be sent out to suppress piracy. When Kidd agreed to take the position
of chief of marine police, he was not employed by the Crown, but by a
small company of gentlemen of capital, who formed themselves into a sort
of trust company, or society for the prevention of cruelty to
merchantmen, and the object of their association was not only to put
down pirates, but to put some money in their own pockets as well.

Kidd was furnished with two commissions, one appointing him a privateer
with authority to capture French vessels, and the other empowering him
to seize and destroy all pirate ships. Kidd was ordered in his mission
to keep a strict account of all booty captured, in order that it might
be fairly divided among those who were stockholders in the enterprise,
one-tenth of the total proceeds being reserved for the King.

Kidd sailed from England in the _Adventure_, a large ship with thirty
guns and eighty men, and on his way to America he captured a French ship
which he carried to New York. Here he arranged to make his crew a great
deal larger than had been thought necessary in England, and, by offering
a fair share of the property he might confiscate on piratical or French
ships, he induced a great many able seamen to enter his service, and
when the _Adventure_ left New York she carried a crew of one hundred and
fifty-five men.

With a fine ship and a strong crew, Kidd now sailed out of the harbor
with the ostensible purpose of putting down piracy in American waters,
but the methods of this legally appointed marine policeman were very
peculiar, and, instead of cruising up and down our coast, he gayly
sailed away to the island of Madeira, and then around the Cape of Good
Hope to Madagascar and the Red Sea, thus getting himself as far out of
his regular beat as any New York constable would have been had he
undertaken to patrol the dominions of the Khan of Tartary.

By the time Captain Kidd reached that part of the world he had been at
sea for nearly a year without putting down any pirates or capturing any
French ships. In fact, he had made no money whatever for himself or the
stockholders of the company which had sent him out. His men, of course,
must have been very much surprised at this unusual neglect of his own
and his employers' interests, but when he reached the Red Sea, he boldly
informed them that he had made a change in his business, and had decided
that he would be no longer a suppressor of piracy, but would become a
pirate himself; and, instead of taking prizes of French ships
only,--which he was legally empowered to do,--he would try to capture
any valuable ship he could find on the seas, no matter to what nation it
belonged. He then went on to state that his present purpose in coming
into those oriental waters was to capture the rich fleet from Mocha
which was due in the lower part of the Red Sea about that time.

The crew of the _Adventure_, who must have been tired of having very
little to do and making no money, expressed their entire approbation of
their captain's change of purpose, and readily agreed to become pirates.

Kidd waited a good while for the Mocha fleet, but it did not arrive, and
then he made his first venture in actual piracy. He overhauled a Moorish
vessel which was commanded by an English captain, and as England was not
at war with Morocco, and as the nationality of the ship's commander
should have protected him, Kidd thus boldly broke the marine laws which
governed the civilized world and stamped himself an out-and-out pirate.
After the exercise of considerable cruelty he extorted from his first
prize a small amount of money; and although he and his men did not gain
very much booty, they had whetted their appetites for more, and Kidd
cruised savagely over the eastern seas in search of other spoils.

After a time the _Adventure_ fell in with a fine English ship, called
the _Royal Captain_, and although she was probably laden with a rich
cargo, Kidd did not attack her. His piratical character was not yet
sufficiently formed to give him the disloyal audacity which would enable
him with his English ship and his English crew, to fall upon another
English ship manned by another English crew. In time his heart might be
hardened, but he felt that he could not begin with this sort of thing
just yet. So the _Adventure_ saluted the _Royal Captain_ with
ceremonious politeness, and each vessel passed quietly on its way. But
this conscientious consideration did not suit Kidd's crew. They had
already had a taste of booty, and they were hungry for more, and when
the fine English vessel, of which they might so easily have made a
prize, was allowed to escape them, they were loud in their complaints
and grumblings.

One of the men, a gunner, named William Moore, became actually
impertinent upon the subject, and he and Captain Kidd had a violent
quarrel, in the course of which the captain picked up a heavy iron-bound
bucket and struck the dissatisfied gunner on the head with it. The blow
was such a powerful one that the man's skull was broken, and he died the
next day.

Captain Kidd's conscience seems to have been a good deal in his way; for
although he had been sailing about in various eastern waters, taking
prizes wherever he could, he was anxious that reports of his misdeeds
should not get home before him. Having captured a fine vessel bound
westward, he took from her all the booty he could, and then proceeded
to arrange matters so that the capture of this ship should appear to be
a legal transaction. The ship was manned by Moors and commanded by a
Dutchman, and of course Kidd had no right to touch it, but the
sharp-witted and business-like pirate selected one of the passengers and
made him sign a paper declaring that he was a Frenchman, and that he
commanded the ship. When this statement had been sworn to before
witnesses, Kidd put the document in his pocket so that if he were called
upon to explain the transaction he might be able to show that he had
good reason to suppose that he had captured a French ship, which, of
course, was all right and proper.

Kidd now ravaged the East India waters with great success and profit,
and at last he fell in with a very fine ship from Armenia, called the
_Quedagh Merchant_, commanded by an Englishman. Kidd's conscience had
been growing harder and harder every day, and he did not now hesitate to
attack any vessel. The great merchantman was captured, and proved to be
one of the most valuable prizes ever taken by a pirate, for Kidd's own
share of the spoils amounted to more than sixty thousand dollars. This
was such a grand haul that Kidd lost no time in taking his prize to some
place where he might safely dispose of her cargo, and get rid of her
passengers. Accordingly he sailed for Madagascar. While he was there he
fell in with the first pirate vessel he had met since he had started out
to put down piracy. This was a ship commanded by an English pirate named
Culliford, and here would have been a chance for Captain Kidd to show
that, although he might transgress the law himself, he would be true to
his engagement not to allow other people to do so; but he had given up
putting down piracy, and instead of apprehending Culliford he went into
partnership with him, and the two agreed to go pirating together.

This partnership, however, did not continue long, for Captain Kidd began
to believe that it was time for him to return to his native country and
make a report of his proceedings to his employers. Having confined his
piratical proceedings to distant parts of the world, he hoped that he
would be able to make Sir George Bellomont and the other stockholders
suppose that his booty was all legitimately taken from French vessels
cruising in the east, and when the proper division should be made he
would be able to quietly enjoy his portion of the treasure he had
gained.

He did not go back in the _Adventure_, which was probably not large
enough to carry all the booty he had amassed, but putting everything on
board his latest prize, the _Quedagh Merchant_, he burned his old ship
and sailed homeward.

When he reached the West Indies, however, our wary sea-robber was very
much surprised to find that accounts of his evil deeds had reached
America, and that the colonial authorities had been so much incensed by
the news that the man who had been sent out to suppress piracy had
become himself a pirate, that they had circulated notices throughout the
different colonies, urging the arrest of Kidd if he should come into any
American port. This was disheartening intelligence for the
treasure-laden Captain Kidd, but he did not despair; he knew that the
love of money was often as strong in the minds of human beings as the
love of justice. Sir George Bellomont, who was now in New York, was one
of the principal stockholders in the enterprise, and Kidd hoped that the
rich share of the results of his industry which would come to the
Governor might cause unpleasant reports to be disregarded. In this case
he might yet return to his wife and family with a neat little fortune,
and without danger of being called upon to explain his exceptional
performances in the eastern seas.

Of course Kidd was not so foolish and rash as to sail into New York
harbor on board the _Quedagh Merchant_, so he bought a small sloop and
put the most valuable portion of his goods on board her, leaving his
larger vessel, which also contained a great quantity of merchandise, in
the charge of one of his confederates, and in the little sloop he
cautiously approached the coast of New Jersey. His great desire was to
find out what sort of a reception he might expect, so he entered
Delaware Bay, and when he stopped at a little seaport in order to take
in some supplies, he discovered that there was but small chance of his
visiting his home and his family, and of making a report to his superior
in the character of a deserving mariner who had returned after a
successful voyage. Some people in the village recognized him, and the
report soon spread to New York that the pirate Kidd was lurking about
the coast. A sloop of war was sent out to capture his vessel, and
finding that it was impossible to remain in the vicinity where he had
been discovered, Kidd sailed northward and entered Long Island Sound.

Here the shrewd and anxious pirate began to act the part of the watch
dog who has been killing sheep. In every way he endeavored to assume the
appearance of innocence and to conceal every sign of misbehavior. He
wrote to Sir George Bellomont that he should have called upon him in
order to report his proceedings and hand over his profits, were it not
for the wicked and malicious reports which had been circulated about
him.

It was during this period of suspense, when the returned pirate did not
know what was likely to happen, that it is supposed, by the believers in
the hidden treasures of Kidd, that he buried his coin and bullion and
his jewels, some in one place and some in another, so that if he were
captured his riches would not be taken with him. Among the wild stories
which were believed at that time, and for long years after, was one to
the effect that Captain Kidd's ship was chased up the Hudson River by a
man-of-war, and that the pirates, finding they could not get away, sank
their ship and fled to the shore with all the gold and silver they could
carry, which they afterwards buried at the foot of Dunderbergh Mountain.
A great deal of rocky soil has been turned over at different times in
search of these treasures, but no discoveries of hidden coin have yet
been reported. The fact is, however, that during this time of anxious
waiting Kidd never sailed west of Oyster Bay in Long Island. He was
afraid to approach New York, although he had frequent communication with
that city, and was joined by his wife and family.

About this time occurred an incident which has given rise to all the
stories regarding the buried treasure of Captain Kidd. The disturbed and
anxious pirate concluded that it was a dangerous thing to keep so much
valuable treasure on board his vessel which might at any time be
overhauled by the authorities, and he therefore landed at Gardiner's
Island on the Long Island coast, and obtained permission from the
proprietor to bury some of his superfluous stores upon his estate. This
was a straightforward transaction. Mr. Gardiner knew all about the
burial of the treasure, and when it was afterwards proved that Kidd was
really a pirate the hidden booty was all given up to the government.

This appears to be the only case in which it was positively known that
Kidd buried treasure on our coast, and it has given rise to all the
stories of the kind which have ever been told.

For some weeks Kidd's sloop remained in Long Island Sound, and then he
took courage and went to Boston to see some influential people there. He
was allowed to go freely about the city for a week, and then he was
arrested.

The rest of Kidd's story is soon told; he was sent to England for trial,
and there he was condemned to death, not only for the piracies he had
committed, but also for the murder of William Moore. He was executed,
and his body was hung in chains on the banks of the Thames, where for
years it dangled in the wind, a warning to all evil-minded sailors.

About the time of Kidd's trial and execution a ballad was written which
had a wide circulation in England and America. It was set to music, and
for many years helped to spread the fame of this pirate. The ballad was
a very long one, containing nearly twenty-six verses, and some of them
run as follows:--

        My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed, when I sailed,
            My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed,
                My name was Robert Kidd,
                    God's laws I did forbid,
        And so wickedly I did, when I sailed.

        My parents taught me well, when I sailed, when I sailed,
            My parents taught me well when I sailed,
                My parents taught me well
                    To shun the gates of hell,
        But 'gainst them I rebelled, when I sailed.

        I'd a Bible in my hand, when I sailed, when I sailed,
            I'd a Bible in my hand when I sailed,
                I'd a Bible in my hand,
                    By my father's great command,
        And sunk it in the sand, when I sailed.

        I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            I murdered William Moore as I sailed,
                I murdered William Moore,
                    And laid him in his gore,
        Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed.

        I was sick and nigh to death, when I sailed, when I sailed,
            I was sick and nigh to death when I sailed,
                I was sick and nigh to death,
                    And I vowed at every breath,
        To walk in wisdom's ways, as I sailed.

        I thought I was undone, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            I thought I was undone, as I sailed,
                I thought I was undone,
                    And my wicked glass had run,
        But health did soon return, as I sailed.

        My repentance lasted not, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            My repentance lasted not, as I sailed,
                My repentance lasted not,
                    My vows I soon forgot,
        Damnation was my lot, as I sailed.

        I spyed the ships from France, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            I spyed the ships from France, as I sailed,
                I spyed the ships from France,
                    To them I did advance,
        And took them all by chance, as I sailed.

        I spyed the ships of Spain, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            I spyed the ships of Spain, as I sailed,
                I spyed the ships of Spain,
                    I fired on them amain,
        'Till most of them was slain, as I sailed.

        I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed, as I sailed,
            I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed,
                I'd ninety bars of gold,
                    And dollars manifold,
        With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed.

        Thus being o'er-taken at last, I must die, I must die,
            Thus being o'er-taken at last, I must die,
                Thus being o'er-taken at last,
                    And into prison cast,
        And sentence being passed, I must die.

        Farewell, the raging main, I must die, I must die,
            Farewell, the raging main, I must die,
                Farewell, the raging main,
                    To Turkey, France, and Spain,
        I shall ne'er see you again, I must die.

        To Execution Dock I must go, I must go,
            To Execution Dock I must go,
                To Execution Dock,
                    Will many thousands flock,
        But I must bear the shock, and must die.

        Come all ye young and old, see me die, see me die,
            Come all ye young and old, see me die,
                Come all ye young and old,
                    You're welcome to my gold,
        For by it I've lost my soul, and must die.

        Take warning now by me, for I must die, for I must die,
            Take warning now by me, for I must die,
                Take warning now by me,
                    And shun bad company,
        Lest you come to hell with me, for I die.

It is said that Kidd showed no repentance when he was tried, but
insisted that he was the victim of malicious persons who swore falsely
against him. And yet a more thoroughly dishonest rascal never sailed
under the black flag. In the guise of an accredited officer of the
government, he committed the crimes he was sent out to suppress; he
deceived his men; he robbed and misused his fellow-countrymen and his
friends, and he even descended to the meanness of cheating and
despoiling the natives of the West India Islands, with whom he traded.
These people were in the habit of supplying pirates with food and other
necessaries, and they always found their rough customers entirely
honest, and willing to pay for what they received; for as the pirates
made a practice of stopping at certain points for supplies, they wished,
of course, to be on good terms with those who furnished them. But Kidd
had no ideas of honor toward people of high or low degree. He would
trade with the natives as if he intended to treat them fairly and pay
for all he got; but when the time came for him to depart, and he was
ready to weigh anchor, he would seize upon all the commodities he could
lay his hands upon, and without paying a copper to the distressed and
indignant Indians, he would gayly sail away, his black flag flaunting
derisively in the wind.

But although in reality Captain Kidd was no hero, he has been known for
a century and more as the great American pirate, and his name has been
representative of piracy ever since. Years after he had been hung, when
people heard that a vessel with a black flag, or one which looked black
in the distance, flying from its rigging had been seen, they forgot that
the famous pirate was dead, and imagined that Captain Kidd was visiting
their part of the coast in order that he might find a good place to bury
some treasure which it was no longer safe for him to carry about.

There were two great reasons for the fame of Captain Kidd. One of these
was the fact that he had been sent out by important officers of the
crown who expected to share the profits of his legitimate operations,
but who were supposed by their enemies to be perfectly willing to take
any sort of profits provided it could not be proved that they were the
results of piracy, and who afterwards allowed Kidd to suffer for their
sins as well as his own. These opinions introduced certain political
features into his career and made him a very much talked-of man. The
greater reason for his fame, however, was the widespread belief in his
buried treasures, and this made him the object of the most intense
interest to hundreds of misguided people who hoped to be lucky enough to
share his spoils.

There were other pirates on the American coast during the eighteenth
century, and some of them became very well known, but their stories are
not uncommon, and we need not tell them here. As our country became
better settled, and as well-armed revenue cutters began to cruise up and
down our Atlantic coast for the protection of our commerce, pirates
became fewer and fewer, and even those who were still bold enough to ply
their trade grew milder in their manners, less daring in their exploits,
and--more important than anything else--so unsuccessful in their illegal
enterprises that they were forced to admit that it was now more
profitable to command or work a merchantman than endeavor to capture
one, and so the sea-robbers of our coasts gradually passed away.



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