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JOSEPH LEWIS FRENCH
Originally Published ByTudor Publishing Co, New York
First Printing, November, 1922Second Printing, January, 1923Third Printing, November, 1923Fourth Printing, November, 1929
Resurrected by Abela Publishing, London
Great Pirate Stories
Typographical arrangement of this edition
© Abela Publishing 2018
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Go tell your King, he is King of the Land;But I am the King of the Sea!
Barbarossa to Charles V.
Barbarossa is thought to be Hayreddin Barbarossa (c. 1478–1546), or Red Beard, an Ottoman Turkish captain and Admiral-of-the-Fleet. He was brother to Oruç Reis (c. 1474–1518), also known as Barbarossa, an Ottoman Turkish captain and Bey (governor) of Algiers, until his death at which point Hayreddin inherited the title Barbarossa.
Barbarossa's naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century, from the Battle of Preveza in 1538 until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Because of his victories, he was promoted to Kapudan Pasha, or, the Grand Admiral of the navy of the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (November 1494 – September 1566.)
Piracy embodies the romance of the sea at its highest expression. It is a sad but inevitable commentary on our civilization, that, so far as the sea is concerned, it has developed from its infancy down to a century or so ago, under one phase or another of piracy. If men were savages on land they were doubly so at sea, and all the years of maritime adventure—years that added to the map of the world till there was little left to discover—could not wholly eradicate the piratical germ. It went out gradually with the settlement and ordering of the far-flung British colonies. Great Britain, foremost of sea powers, must be credited with doing more both directly and indirectly for the abolition of crime and disorder on the high seas than any other force. But the conquest was not complete till the advent of steam which chased the sea-rover into the farthest corners of his domain. It is said that he survives even today in certain spots in the Chinese waters,—but he is certainly an innocuous relic. A pirate of any sort would be as great a curiosity today if he could be caught and exhibited as a fabulous monster.
The fact remains and will always persist that in the lore of the sea he is far and away the most picturesque figure,—and the more genuine and gross his career, the higher degree of interest does he inspire.
There may be a certain human perversity in this, for the pirate was unquestionably a bad man—at his best, or worst—considering his surroundings and conditions,—undoubtedly the worst man that ever lived. There is little to soften the dark yet glowing picture of his exploits. But again, it must be remembered, that not only does the note of distance subdue, and even lend a certain enchantment to the scene, but the effect of contrast between our peaceful times and his own contributes much to deepen our interest in him. Perhaps it is this latter, added to that deathless spark in the human breast that glows at the tale of adventure, which makes him the kind of hero of romance that he is today.
He is undeniably a redoubtable historical figure. It is a curious fact that the commerce of the seas was cradled in the lap of buccaneering. The constant danger of the deeps in this form only made hardier mariners out of the merchant-adventurers, actually stimulating and strengthening maritime enterprise.
Buccaneering—which is only a politer term for piracy—thus became the high romance of the seas during the great centuries of maritime adventure. It went hand in hand with discovery,—they were in fact almost inseparable. Most of the mighty mariners from the days of Leif the Discoverer, through those of the redoubtable Sir Francis Drake down to our own Paul Jones, answer to the roll-call.
It was a bold hardy world—this of ours—up to the advent of our giant-servant, Steam,—every foot of which was won by fierce conquest of one sort or another. Out of this past the pirate emerges as a romantic, even at times heroic, figure. This final niche, despite his crimes, cannot altogether be denied him. A hero he is and will remain so long as tales of the sea are told. So, have at him, in these pages!
Joseph Lewis French.
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"Ours the wild life in tumult still to range."—The Corsair.
We returned to Carthagena, to be at hand should any opportunity occur for Jamaica, and were lounging about one forenoon on the fortifications, looking with sickening hearts out to seaward, when a voice struck up the following negro ditty close to us:—
"Fader was a Corramantee,Moder was a Mingo,Black picaniny buccra wantee,So dem sell a me, Peter, by jingo.Jiggery, jiggery, jiggery."
"Well sung, Massa Bungo!" exclaimed Mr. Splinter; "where do you hail from, my hearty?"
"Hillo! Bungo, indeed! free and easy dat, anyhow. Who you yousef, eh?"
"Why, Peter," continued the lieutenant, "don't you know me?"
"Cannot say dat I do," rejoined the negro, very gravely, without lifting his head, as he sat mending his jacket in one of the embrasures near the water-gate of the arsenal—"Hab not de honour of your acquaintance, sir."
He then resumed his scream, for song it could not be called:—
"Mammy Sally's daughterLose him shoe in an old canoeDat lay half full of water,And den she knew not what to do.Jiggery, jig——"
"Confound your jiggery, jiggery, sir! But I know you well enough, my man; and you can scarcely have forgotten Lieutenant Splinter of the Torch, one would think?"
However, it was clear that the poor fellow really had not known us; for the name so startled him, that, in his hurry to unlace his legs from under him, as he sat tailor-fashion, he fairly capsized out of his perch, and toppled down on his nose—a feature, fortunately, so flattened by the hand of nature, that I question if it could have been rendered more obtuse had he fallen out of the maintop on a timber-head, or a marine officer's.
"Eh!—no—yes, him sure enough; and who is de picaniny hofficer—Oh! I see, Massa Tom Cringle? Garamighty, gentlemen, where have you drop from? Where is de old Torch? Many a time hab I, Peter Mangrove, pilot to Him Britannic Majesty squadron, taken de old brig in and through amongst de keys at Port Royal!"
"Ay, and how often did you scour her copper against the coral reefs, Peter?"
His Majesty's pilot gave a knowing look, and laid his hand on his breast—"No more of dat if you love me, massa."
"Well, well, it don't signify now, my boy; she will never give you that trouble again—foundered—all hands lost, Peter, but the two you see before you."
"Werry sorry, Massa Plinter, werry sorry—What! de black cook's-mate and all?—But misfortune can't be help. Stop till I put up my needle, and I will take a turn wid you." Here he drew himself up with a great deal of absurd gravity. "Proper dat British hofficer in distress should assist one anoder—we shall consult togeder.—How can I serve you?"
"Why, Peter, if you could help us to a passage to Port Royal, it would be serving us most essentially. When we used to be lying there a week seldom passed without one of the squadron arriving from this; but here have we been for more than a month without a single pennant belonging to the station having looked in: our money is running short, and if we are to hold on in Carthagena for another six weeks, we shall not have a shot left in the locker—not a copper to tinkle on a tombstone."
The negro looked steadfastly at us, then carefully around. There was no one near.
"You see, Massa Plinter, I am desirable to serve you, for one little reason of my own; but, beside dat, it is good for me at present to make some friend wid de hofficer of de squadron, being as how dat I am absent widout leave."
"Oh, I perceive—a large R against your name in the master-attendant's books, eh?"
"You have hit it, sir, werry close; besides, I long mosh to return to my poor wife, Nancy Cator, dat I leave, wagabone dat I is, just about to be confine."
I could not resist putting in my oar.
"I saw Nancy just before we sailed, Peter—fine child that; not quite so black as you, though."
"Oh, massa," said Snowball, grinning, and showing his white teeth, "you know I am soch a terrible black fellow—But you are a leetle out at present, massa—I meant, about to be confine in de work-house for stealing de admiral's Muscovy ducks;" and he laughed loud and long.—"However, if you will promise dat you will stand my friends, I will put you in de way of getting a shove across to de east end of Jamaica; and I will go wid you too, for company."
"Thank you," rejoined Mr. Splinter; "but how do you mean to manage this? There is no Kingston trader here at present, and you don't mean to make a start of it in an open boat, do you?"
"No, sir, I don't; but in de first place—as you are a gentleman, will you try and get me off when we get to Jamaica? Secondly, will you promise dat you will not seek to know more of de vessel you may go in, nor of her crew, than dey are willing to tell you, provided you are landed safe?"
"Why, Peter, I scarcely think you would deceive us, for you know I saved your bacon in that awkward affair, when through drunkenness you plumped the Torch ashore, so——"
"Forget dat, sir—forget dat! Never shall poor black pilot forget how you saved him from being seized up, when de gratings, boatswain's mates, and all, were ready at de gangway—never shall poor black rascal forget dat."
"Indeed, I do not think you would wittingly betray us into trouble, Peter; and as I guess you mean one of the forced traders, we will venture in her, rather than kick about here any longer, and pay a moderate sum for our passage."
"Den wait here five minute"—and so saying, he slipped down through the embrasure into a canoe that lay beneath, and in a trice we saw him jump on board of a long low nondescript kind of craft that lay moored within pistol-shot of the walls.
She was a large shallow vessel, coppered to the bends, of great breadth of beam, with bright sides, like an American, so painted as to give her a clumsy mercantile sheen externally, but there were many things that belied this to a nautical eye: her copper, for instance, was bright as burnished gold on her very sharp bows and beautiful run; and we could see, from the bastion where we stood, that her decks were flush and level. She had no cannon mounted that were visible; but we distinguished grooves on her well-scrubbed decks, as from the recent traversing of carronade slides, while the bolts and rings in her high and solid bulwarks shone clear and bright in the ardent noontide. There was a tarpaulin stretched over a quantity of rubbish, old sails, old junk, and hencoops, rather ostentatiously piled up forward, which we conjectured might conceal a long gun.
She was a very taught-rigged hermaphrodite, or brig forward and schooner aft. Her foremast and bowsprit were immensely strong and heavy, and her mainmast was so long and tapering, that the wonder was how the few shrouds and stays about it could support it; it was the handsomest stick we had ever seen. Her upper spars were on the same scale, tapering away through topmast, topgallant-mast, royal and skysail-masts, until they fined away into slender wands. The sails, that were loose to dry, were old, and patched, and evidently displayed to cloak the character of the vessel by an ostentatious show of their unserviceable condition; but her rigging was beautifully fitted, every rope lying in the chafe of another being carefully served with hide. There were several large bushy-whiskered fellows lounging about the deck, with their hair gathered into dirty net-bags, like the fishermen of Barcelona; many had red silk sashes round their waists, through which were stuck their long knives, in shark-skin sheaths. Their numbers were not so great as to excite suspicion: but a certain daring, reckless manner, would at once have distinguished them, independently of anything else, from the quiet, hard-worked, red-shirted, merchant seaman.
"That chap is not much to be trusted," said the lieutenant; "his bunting would make a few jackets for Joseph, I take it." But we had little time to be critical, before our friend Peter came paddling back with another blackamoor in the stern, of as ungainly an exterior as could well be imagined. He was a very large man, whose weight every now and then, as they breasted the short sea, cocked up the snout of the canoe with Peter Mangrove in it, as if he had been a cork, leaving him to flourish his paddle in the air, like the weather-wheel of a steam-boat in a sea-way. The new-comer was strong and broad-shouldered, with long muscular arms, and a chest like Hercules; but his legs and thighs were, for his bulk, remarkably puny and misshapen. A thick fell of black wool, in close tufts, as if his face had been stuck full of cloves, covered his chin and upper-lip; and his hair, if hair it could be called, was twisted into a hundred short plaits, that bristled out, and gave his head, when he took his hat off, the appearance of a porcupine. There was a large saber-cut across his nose and down his cheek, and he wore two immense gold earrings. His dress consisted of short cotton drawers, that did not reach within two inches of his knee, leaving his thin cucumber shanks (on which the small bullet-like calf appeared to have been stuck before, through mistake, in place of abaft) naked to the shoe; a check shirt, and an enormously large Panama hat, made of a sort of cane, split small, and worn shovel-fashion. Notwithstanding, he made his bow by no means ungracefully, and offered his services in choice Spanish, but spoke English as soon as he heard who we were.
"Pray, sir, are you the master of that vessel?" said the lieutenant.
"No, sir, I am the mate, and I learn you are desirous of a passage to Jamaica." This was spoken with a broad Scotch accent.
"Yes, we are," said I, in very great astonishment, "but we will not sail with the devil; and who ever saw a negro Scotchman before, the spirit of Nicol Jarvie conjured into a blackamoor's skin!"
The fellow laughed. "I am black, as you see; so were my father and mother before me." And he looked at me, as much as to say, I have read the book you quote from. "But I was born in the good town of Port-Glasgow notwithstanding, and many a voyage I have made as cabin-boy and cook in the good ship the Peggy Bogle, with worthy old Jock Hunter; but that matters not. I was told you wanted to go to Jamaica; I dare-say our captain will take you for a moderate passage-money. But here he comes to speak for himself.—Captain Vanderbosh, here are two shipwrecked British officers, who wish to be put on shore on the east end of Jamaica; will you take them, and what will you charge for their passage?"
The man he spoke to was nearly as tall as himself; he was a sunburnt, angular, raw-boned, iron-visaged veteran, with a nose in shape and color like the bowl of his own pipe, but not at all, according to the received idea, like a Dutchman. His dress was quizzical enough—white-trousers, a long-flapped embroidered waistcoat that might have belonged to a Spanish grandee, with an old-fashioned French-cut coat, showing the frayed marks where the lace had been stripped off, voluminous in the skirts, but very tight in the sleeves, which were so short as to leave his large bony paws, and six inches of his arm above the wrist, exposed; altogether, it fitted him like a purser's shirt on a hand-spike.
"Vy, for von hondred thaler I will land dem safe in Mancheoneal Bay; but how shall ve manage, Villiamson? De cabin vas point yesterday."
The Scotch negro nodded. "Never mind; I dare-say the smell of the paint won't signify to the gentlemen."
The bargain was ratified; we agreed to pay the stipulated sum, and that same evening, having dropped down with the last of the sea-breeze, we set sail from Bocca Chica, and began working up under the lee of the headland of Punto Canoa. When off the San Domingo Gate, we burned a blue-light, which was immediately answered by another in-shore of us. In the glare we could perceive two boats, full of men. Any one who has ever played at snapdragon, can imagine the unearthly appearance of objects when seen by this species of firework. In the present instance it was held aloft on a boat-hook, and cast a strong spectral light on the band of lawless ruffians, who were so crowded together that they entirely filled the boats, no part of which could be seen. It seemed as if two clusters of fiends, suddenly vomited forth from hell, were floating on the surface of the midnight sea, in the midst of brimstone flames. In a few moments our crew was strengthened by about forty as ugly Christians as I ever set eyes on. They were of all ages, countries, complexions, and tongues, and looked as if they had been kidnapped by a pressgang as they had knocked off from the Tower of Babel. From the moment they came on board, Captain Vanderbosh was shorn of all his glory, and sank into the petty officer while, to our amazement, the Scottish negro took the command, evincing great coolness, energy, and skill. He ordered the schooner to be wore as soon as we had shipped the men, and laid her head off the land, then set all hands to shift the old suit of sails, and to bend new ones.
"Why did you not shift your canvas before we started?" said I to the Dutch captain, or mate, or whatever he might be.
"Vy vont you be content to take a quiet passage and hax no question?" was the uncivil rejoinder, which I felt inclined to resent, until I remembered that we were in the hands of the Philistines, where a quarrel would have been worse than useless. I was gulping down the insult as well as I could, when the black captain came aft, and, with the air of an equal, invited us into the cabin to take a glass of grog. We had scarcely sat down before we heard a noise like the swaying up of guns, or some other heavy articles, from the hold.
I caught Mr. Splinter's eye—he nodded, but said nothing. In half an hour afterwards, when we went on deck, we saw by the light of the moon twelve eighteen-pound carronades mounted, six of a side, with their accompaniments of rammers and sponges, water-buckets, boxes of round, grape, and canister, and tubs of wadding, while the coamings of the hatchways were thickly studded with round-shot. The tarpaulin and lumber forward had disappeared, and there lay long Tom, ready levelled, grinning on his pivot.
The ropes were all coiled away, and laid down in regular man-of-war fashion; while an ugly gruff beast of a Spanish mulatto, apparently the officer of the watch, walked the weatherside of the quarterdeck in the true pendulum style. Look-outs were placed aft, and at the gangways and bows, who every now and then passed the word to keep a bright look-out, while the rest of the watch were stretched silent, but evidently broad awake, under the lee of the boat. We noticed that each man had his cutlass buckled round his waist—that the boarding-pikes had been cut loose from the main boom, round which they had been stopped, and that about thirty muskets were ranged along a fixed rack that ran athwart ships near the main hatchway.
By the time we had reconnoitred thus far the night became overcast, and a thick bank of clouds began to rise to windward; some heavy drops of rain fell, and the thunder grumbled at a distance. The black veil crept gradually on, until it shrouded the whole firmament, and left us in as dark a night as ever poor devils were out in. By-and-by a narrow streak of bright moonlight appeared under the lower-edge of the bank, defining the dark outlines of the tumbling multitudinous billows on the horizon as distinctly as if they had been pasteboard waves in a theater.
"Is that a sail to windward in the clear, think you?" said Mr. Splinter to me in a whisper. At this moment it lightened vividly. "I am sure it is," continued he—"I could see her white canvas glance just now."
I looked steadily, and at last caught the small dark speck against the bright background, rising and falling on the swell of the sea like a feather.
As we stood on, she was seen more distinctly, but, to all appearance, nobody was aware of her proximity. We were mistaken in this, however, for the captain suddenly jumped on a gun, and gave his orders with a fiery energy that startled us.
"Leroux!" A small French boy was at his side in a moment. "Forward, and call all hands to shorten sail; but, doucement, you land-crab!—Man the fore clew-garnets.—Hands by the top-gallant clew-lines— jib down-haul—rise tacks and sheets—peak and throat haulyards—let go—clew up—settle away the main-gaff there!"
In almost as short a space as I have taken to write it, every inch of canvas was close furled—every light, except the one in the binnacle, and that was cautiously masked, carefully extinguished—a hundred and twenty men at quarters, and the ship under bare poles. The head-yards were then squared, and we bore up before the wind. The stratagem proved successful; the strange sail could be seen through the night-glasses cracking on close to the wind, evidently under the impression that we had tacked.
"Dere she goes, chasing de Gobel," said the Dutchman.
She now burned a blue-light, by which we saw she was a heavy cutter—without doubt our old fellow-cruiser the Spark. The Dutchman had come to the same conclusion.
"My eye, captain, no use to dodge from her; it is only dat footy little King's cutter on de Jamaica station."
"It is her, true enough," answered Williamson; "and she is from Santa Martha with a freight of specie, I know. I will try a brush with her, by——"
Splinter struck in before he could finish his irreverent exclamation. "If your conjecture be true, I know the craft—a heavy vessel of her class, and you may depend on hard knocks, and small profit if you do take her; while if she takes you——"
"I'll be hanged if she does"—and he grinned at the conceit—then setting his teeth hard, "or rather, I will blow the schooner up with my own hand before I strike; better that than have one's bones bleached in chains on a key at Port Royal. But you see you cannot control us, gentlemen; so get down into the cable-tier, and take Peter Mangrove with you. I would not willingly see those come to harm who have trusted me."
However, there was no shot flying as yet, we therefore stayed on deck. All sail was once more made; the carronades were cast loose on both sides, and double-shotted, the long-gun slewed round, the tack of the fore-and-aft foresail hauled up, and we kept by the wind, and stood after the cutter, whose white canvas we could still see through the gloom like a snow-wreath.
As soon as she saw us, she tacked and stood towards us, and came bowling along gallantly, with the water roaring and flashing at her bows. As the vessels neared each other they both shortened sail, and finding that we could not weather her, we steered close under her lee.
As we crossed on opposite tacks, her commander hailed, "Ho, the brigantine, ahoy!"
"Hillo!" sung out Blackie, as he backed his main-top-sail.
"What schooner is that?"
"The Spanish schooner Caridad."
"Whence, and whither bound?"
"Carthagena to Porto Rico."
"Heave-to, and send your boat on board."
"We have none that will swim, sir."
"Very well, bring-to, and I will send mine."
"Call away the boarders," said our captain, in a low stern tone; "let them crouch out of sight behind the boat."
The cutter wore, and hove-to under our lee quarter, within pistol-shot; we heard the rattle of the ropes running through the davit-blocks, and the splash of the jolly-boat touching the water, then the measured stroke of the oars, as they glanced like silver in the sparkling sea, and a voice calling out, "Give way, my lads."
The character of the vessel we were on board of was now evident; and the bitter reflection that we were chained to the stake on board of a pirate, on the eve of a fierce contest with one of our own cruisers, was aggravated by the consideration, that the cutter had fallen into a snare by which a whole boat's crew would be sacrificed before a shot was fired.
I watched my opportunity as she pulled up alongside, and called out, leaning well over the nettings, "Get back to your ship!—treachery! get back to your ship!"
The little French serpent was at my side with the speed of thought, his long clear knife glancing in one hand, while the fingers of the other were laid on his lips. He could not have said more plainly, "Hold your tongue, or I'll cut your throat;" but Sneezer now startled him by rushing between us, and giving a short angry growl.
The officer in the boat had heard me imperfectly; he rose up—"I won't go back, my good man, until I see what you are made of;" and as he spoke he sprang on board, but the instant he got over the bulwarks, he was caught by two strong hands, gagged, and thrown bodily down the main-hatchway.
"Heave," cried a voice, "and with a will!" and four cold 32-pound shot were hove at once into the boat alongside, which, crashing through her bottom, swamped her in a moment, precipitating the miserable crew into the boiling sea. Their shrieks still ring in my ears as they clung to the oars and some loose planks of the boat.
"Bring up the officer, and take out the gag," said Williamson.
Poor Walcolm, who had been an old messmate of mine, was now dragged to the gangway half-naked, his face bleeding, and heavily ironed, when the blackamoor, clapping a pistol to his head, bid him, as he feared instant death, hail "that the boat had swamped under the counter, and to send another." The poor fellow, who appeared stunned and confused, did so, but without seeming to know what he said.
"Good God," said Mr. Splinter, "don't you mean to pick up the boat's crew?"
The blood curdled to my heart, as the black savage answered in a voice of thunder, "Let them drown and be d——d! Fill, and stand on!"
But the clouds by this time broke away, and the mild moon shone clear and bright once more upon this scene of most atrocious villainy. By her light the cutter's people could see that there was no one struggling in the water now, and that the people must either have been saved, or were past all earthly aid; but the infamous deception was not entirely at an end.
The captain of the cutter, seeing we were making sail, did the same, and after having shot ahead of us, hailed once more.
"Mr. Walcolm, why don't you run to leeward, and heave-to, sir?"
"Answer him instantly, and hail again for another boat," said the sable fiend, and cocked his pistol.
The click went to my heart. The young midship-man turned his pale mild countenance, laced with his blood, upwards towards the moon and stars, as one who had looked his last look on earth; the large tears were flowing down his cheeks, and mingling with the crimson streaks, and a flood of silver light fell on the fine features of the poor boy, as he said firmly, "Never." The miscreant fired, and he fell dead.
"Up with the helm, and wear across her stern." The order was obeyed. "Fire!" The whole broadside was poured in, and we could hear the shot rattle and tear along the cutter's deck, and the shrieks and groans of the wounded, while the white splinters glanced away in all directions.
We now ranged alongside, and close action commenced, and never do I expect to see such an infernal scene again. Up to this moment there had been neither confusion nor noise on board the pirate—all had been coolness and order; but when the yards locked the crew broke loose from all control—they ceased to be men—they were demons, for they threw their own dead and wounded, as they were mown down like grass by the cutter's grape, indiscriminately down the hatchways to get clear of them. They had stripped themselves almost naked; and although they fought with the most desperate courage, yelling and cursing, each in his own tongue, most hideously, yet their very numbers, pent up in a small vessel, were against them. At length, amidst the fire and smoke and hellish uproar, we could see that the deck had become a very shambles; and unless they soon carried the cutter by boarding, it was clear that the coolness and discipline of my own glorious service must prevail, even against such fearful odds; the superior size of the vessel, greater number of guns, and heavier metal. The pirates seemed aware of this themselves, for they now made a desperate attempt forward to carry their antagonist by boarding, led on by the black captain. Just at this moment the cutter's main-boom fell across the schooner's deck, close to where we were sheltering ourselves from the shot the best way we could; and while the rush forward was being made, by a sudden impulse Splinter and I, followed by Peter and the dog (who with wonderful sagacity, seeing the uselessness of resistance, had cowered quietly by my side during the whole row), scrambled along it as the cutter's people were repelling the attack on her bow, and all four of us, in our haste, jumped down on the poor Irishman at the wheel.
"Murder, fire, rape, and robbery!—it is capsized, stove in, sunk, burned, and destroyed I am! Captain, captain, we are carried aft here—Och, hubbaboo for Patrick Donnally!"
There was no time to be lost; if any of the crew came aft we were dead men, so we tumbled down through the cabin skylight, men and beast, the hatch having been knocked off by a shot, and stowed ourselves away in the side berths. The noise on deck soon ceased—the cannon were again plied—gradually the fire slackened, and we could hear that the pirate had scraped clear and escaped. Sometime after this the lieutenant commanding the cutter came down. Poor Mr. Douglas! both Mr. Splinter and I knew him well. He sat down and covered his face with his hands, while the blood oozed down between his fingers. He had received a cutlass wound on the head in the attack. His right arm was bound up with his neckcloth, and he was very pale.
"Steward, bring me a light.—Ask the doctor how many are killed and wounded; and—do you hear?—tell him to come to me when he is done forward, but not a moment sooner. To have been so mauled and duped by a buccaneer; and my poor boat's crew…"
Splinter groaned. He started—but at this moment the man returned again.
"Thirteen killed, your honor, and fifteen wounded; scarcely one of us untouched." The poor fellow's own skull was bound round with a bloody cloth.
"God help me! Gold help me! but they have died the death of men. Who knows what death the poor fellows in the boat have died!"—Here he was cut short by a tremendous scuffle on the ladder, down which an old quartermaster was trundled neck and crop into the cabin. "How now, Jones?"
"Please your honor," said the man, as soon as he had gathered himself up, and had time to turn his quid and smooth down his hair; but again the uproar was renewed, and Donnally was lugged in, scrambling and struggling between two seamen—"this here Irish chap, your honor, has lost his wits, if so be he ever had any, your honor. He has gone mad through fright."
"Fright be d——d!" roared Donnally; "no man ever frightened me; but as his honor was skewering them bloody thieves forward, I was boarded and carried aft by the devil, your honor—pooped by Beelzebub, by ——," and he rapped his fist on the table until everything on it danced again. "There were four of them, yeer honor—a black one and two blue ones—and a pie-bald one, with four legs and a bushy tail—each with two horns on his head, for all the world like those on Father M'Cleary's red cow—no, she was humbled—it is Father Clannachan's, I mane—no, not his neither, for his was the parish bull; fait, I don't know what I mane, except that they had all horns on their heads, and vomited fire, and had each of them a tail at his stern, twisting and twining like a conger eel, with a blue light at the end on't."
"And dat's a lie, if ever dere was one," exclaimed Peter Mangrove, jumping from the berth. "Look at me, you Irish tief, and tell me if I have a blue light or a conger eel at my stern!"
This was too much for poor Donnally. He yelled out, "You'll believe your own eyes now, yeer honor, when you see one o' dem bodily before you! Let me go—let me go!" and, rushing up the ladder, he would, in all probability, have ended his earthly career in the salt sea, had his bullet-head not encountered the broadest part of the purser, who was in the act of descending, with such violence, that he shot him out of the companion several feet above the deck, as if he had been discharged from a culverin; but the recoil sent poor Donnally, stunned and senseless, to the bottom of the ladder. There was no standing all this; we laughed outright, and made ourselves known to Mr. Douglas, who received us cordially, and in a week we were landed at Port Royal.
 From Tom Cringle's Log.
The Capture Of Panama 1671
Captain Morgan set forth from the castle of Chagre, towards Panama, August 18, 1670. He had with him twelve hundred men, five boats laden with artillery, and thirty-two canoes. The first day they sailed only six leagues, and came to a place called De los Bracos. Here a party of his men went ashore, only to sleep and stretch their limbs, being almost crippled with lying too much crowded in the boats. Having rested awhile, they went abroad to seek victuals in the neighboring plantations; but they could find none, the Spaniards being fled, and carrying with them all they had. This day, being the first of their journey, they had such scarcity of victuals, as the greatest part were forced to pass with only a pipe of tobacco, without any other refreshment.
Next day, about evening, they came to a place called Cruz de Juan Gallego. Here they were compelled to leave their boats and canoes, the river being very dry for want of rain, and many trees having fallen into it.
The guides told them, that, about two leagues farther, the country would be very good to continue the journey by land. Hereupon they left one hundred and sixty men on board the boats, to defend them, that they might serve for a refuge in necessity.
Next morning, being the third day, they all went ashore, except those who were to keep the boats. To these Captain Morgan gave order, under great penalties, that no man, on any pretext whatever, should dare to leave the boats, and go ashore; fearing lest they should be surprised by an ambuscade of Spaniards in the neighboring woods, which appeared so thick as to seem almost impenetrable. This morning beginning their march, the ways proved so bad, that Captain Morgan thought it more convenient to transport some of the men in canoes (though with great labor) to a place farther up the river, called Cedro Bueno. Thus they reëmbarked, and the canoes returned for the rest; so that about night they got altogether at the said place. The pirates much desired to meet some Spaniards or Indians, hoping to fill their bellies with their provisions, being reduced to extremity and hunger.
The fourth day the greatest part of the pirates marched by land, being led by one of the guides; the rest went by water farther up, being conducted by another guide, who always went before them, to discover, on both sides of the river, the ambuscades. These had also spies, who were very dextrous to give notice of all accidents, or of the arrival of the pirates, six hours, at least, before they came. This day, about noon, they came near a post called Torna Cavallos: here the guide of the canoes cried out, that he perceived an ambuscade. His voice caused infinite joy to all the pirates, hoping to find some provisions to satiate their extreme hunger. Being come to the place, they found nobody in it, the Spaniards being fled, and leaving nothing behind but a few leathern bags, all empty, and a few crumbs of bread scattered on the ground where they had eaten. Being angry at this, they pulled down a few little huts which the Spaniards had made, and fell to eating the leathern bags, to allay the ferment of their stomachs, which was now so sharp as to gnaw their very bowels. Thus they made a huge banquet upon these bags of leather, divers quarrels arising concerning the greatest shares. By the bigness of the place, they conjectured about five hundred Spaniards had been there, whom, finding no victuals, they were now infinitely desirous to meet, intending to devour some of them rather than perish.
Having feasted themselves with those pieces of leather, they marched on, till they came about night to another post, called Torna Munni. Here they found another ambuscade, but as barren as the former. They searched the neighboring woods, but could not find anything to eat, the Spaniards having been so provident, as not to leave anywhere the least crumb of sustenance, whereby the pirates were now brought to this extremity. Here again he was happy that he had reserved since noon any bit of leather to make his supper of, drinking after it a good draught of water for his comfort. Some, who never were out of their mothers' kitchens, may ask, how these pirates could eat and digest those pieces of leather, so hard and dry? Whom I answer, that, could they once experiment what hunger, or rather famine, is, they would find the way as the pirates did. For these first sliced it in pieces, then they beat it between two stones, and rubbed it, often dipping it in water, to make it supple and tender. Lastly, they scraped off the hair, and broiled it. Being thus cooked, they cut it into small morsels, and ate it, helping it down with frequent gulps of water, which, by good fortune, they had at hand.
The fifth day, about noon, they came to a place called Barbacoa. Here they found traces of another ambuscade, but the place totally as unprovided as the former. At a small distance were several plantations, which they searched very narrowly, but could not find any person, animal, or other thing, to relieve their extreme hunger. Finally, having ranged about, and searched a long time, they found a grot, which seemed to be but lately hewn out of a rock, where were two sacks of meal, wheat, and like things, with two great jars of wine, and certain fruits called platanoes. Captain Morgan, knowing some of his men were now almost dead with hunger, and fearing the same of the rest, caused what was found to be distributed among them who were in greatest necessity. Having refreshed themselves with these victuals, they marched anew with greater courage then ever. Such as were weak were put into the canoes, and those commanded to land that were in them before. Thus they prosecuted their journey till late at night; when coming to a plantation, they took up their rest, but without eating anything; for the Spaniards, as before, had swept away all manner of provisions.
The sixth day they continued their march, part by land and part by water. Howbeit, they were constrained to rest very frequently, both for the ruggedness of the way, and their extreme weakness, which they endeavored to relieve by eating leaves of trees and green herbs, or grass; such was their miserable condition. This day at noon they arrived at a plantation, where was a barn full of maize. Immediately they beat down the doors and ate it dry, as much as they could devour; then they distributed a great quantity, giving every man a good allowance. Thus provided, and prosecuting their journey for about an hour, they came to another ambuscade. This they no sooner discovered, but they threw away their maize, with the sudden hopes of finding all things in abundance. But they were much deceived, meeting neither Indians nor victuals, nor anything else: but they saw, on the other side of the river, about a hundred Indians, who, all fleeing, escaped. Some few pirates leaped into the river to cross it, and try to take any of the Indians, but in vain: for, being much more nimble than the pirates, they not only baffled them, but killed two or three with their arrows; hooting at them, and crying, "Ha, perros! a la savana, a la savana."—"Ha, ye dogs! go to the plain, go to the plain."
This day they could advance no farther, being necessitated to pass the river, to continue their march on the other side. Hereupon they reposed for that night, though their sleep was not profound; for great murmurings were made at Captain Morgan, and his conduct; some being desirous to return home, while others would rather die there than go back a step from their undertaking: others, who had greater courage, laughed and joked at their discourses. Meanwhile, they had a guide who much comforted them, saying, "It would not now be long before they met with people from whom they should reap some considerable advantage."
The seventh day, in the morning, they made clean their arms, and every one discharged his pistol, or musket, without bullet, to try their firelocks. This done, they crossed the river, leaving the post where they had rested, called Santa Cruz, and at noon they arrived at a village called Cruz. Being yet far from the place, they perceived much smoke from the chimneys: the sight hereof gave them great joy, and hopes of finding people and plenty of good cheer. Thus they went on as fast as they could, encouraging one another, saying, "There is smoke comes out of every house: they are making good fires, to roast and boil what we are to eat;" and the like.
At length they arrived there, all sweating and panting, but found no person in the town, nor anything eatable to refresh themselves, except good fires, which they wanted not; for the Spaniards, before their departure, had every one set fire to his own house, except the king's storehouses and stables.
They had not left behind them any beast, alive or dead, which much troubled their pursuers, not finding anything but a few cats and dogs, which they immediately killed and devoured. At last, in the king's stables, they found, by good fortune, fifteen or sixteen jars of Peru wine, and a leathern sack full of bread. No sooner had they drank of this wine, when they fell sick, almost every man: this made them think the wine was poisoned, which caused a new consternation in the whole camp, judging themselves now to be irrecoverably lost. But the true reason was, their want of sustenance, and the manifold sorts of trash they had eaten. Their sickness was so great, as caused them to remain there till the next morning, without being able to prosecute their journey in the afternoon. This village is seated in 9 deg. 2 min. north latitude, distant from the river Chagre twenty-six Spanish leagues, and eight from Panama. This is the last place to which boats or canoes can come; for which reason they built here storehouses for all sorts of merchandise, which to and from Panama are transported on the backs of mules.
Here Captain Morgan was forced to leave his canoes, and land all his men, though never so weak; but lest the canoes should be surprised, or take up too many men for their defense, he sent them all back to the place where the boats were, except one, which he hid, that it might serve to carry intelligence. Many of the Spaniards and Indians of this village having fled to the near plantations, Captain Morgan ordered that none should go out of the village, except companies of one hundred together, fearing lest the enemy should take an advantage upon his men. Notwithstanding, one party contravened these orders, being tempted with the desire of victuals: but they were soon glad to fly into the town again, being assaulted with great fury by some Spaniards and Indians, who carried one of them away prisoner. Thus the vigilancy and care of Captain Morgan was not sufficient to prevent every accident.
The eighth day in the morning Captain Morgan sent two hundred men before the body of his army, to discover the way to Panama, and any ambuscades therein: the path being so narrow, that only ten or twelve persons could march abreast, and often not so many. After ten hours' march they came to a place called Quebrada Obscura: here, all on a sudden, three or four thousand arrows were shot at them, they not perceiving whence they came, or who shot them: though they presumed it was from a high rocky mountain, from one side to the other, whereon was a grot, capable of but one horse or other beast laded. This multitude of arrows much alarmed the pirates, especially because they could not discover whence they were discharged. At last, seeing no more arrows, they marched a little farther, and entered a wood: here they perceived some Indians to fly as fast as they could, to take the advantage of another post, thence to observe their march; yet there remained one troop of Indians on the place, resolved to fight and defend themselves, which they did with great courage till their captain fell down wounded; who, though he despaired of life, yet his valor being greater than his strength, would ask no quarter, but, endeavoring to raise himself, with undaunted mind laid hold of his azagayo, or javelin, and struck at one of the pirates; but before he could second the blow, he was shot to death. This was also the fate of many of his companions, who, like good soldiers, lost their lives with their captain, for the defense of their country.