Part 2 out of 4
The night, now that they were close to the shore, was loud with
the noise of running tide-water, and the air was heavy with the
smell of mud and marsh, and over all the whiteness of the
moonlight, with a few stars pricking out here and there in the
sky; and all so strange and silent and mysterious that Barnaby
could not divest himself of the feeling that it was all a dream.
So, the rowers bending to the oars, the boat came slowly around
from under the clump of mangrove bushes and out into the open
Instantly it did so the leader of the expedition called out in a
sharp voice, and the black men instantly lay on their oars.
Almost at the same instant Barnaby True became aware that there
was another boat coming down the river toward where they lay, now
drifting with the strong tide out into the harbor again, and he
knew that it was because of the approach of that boat that the
other had called upon his men to cease rowing.
The other boat, as well as he could see in the distance, was full
of men, some of whom appeared to be armed, for even in the dusk
of the darkness the shine of the moonlight glimmered sharply now
and then on the barrels of muskets or pistols, and in the silence
that followed after their own rowing had ceased Barnaby True
could hear the chug! chug! of the oars sounding louder and louder
through the watery stillness of the night as the boat drew nearer
and nearer. But he knew nothing of what it all meant, nor whether
these others were friends or enemies, or what was to happen next.
The oarsmen of the approaching boat did not for a moment cease
their rowing, not till they had come pretty close to Barnaby and
his companions. Then a man who sat in the stern ordered them to
cease rowing, and as they lay on their oars he stood up. As they
passed by, Barnaby True could see him very plain, the moonlight
shining full upon him--a large, stout gentleman with a round red
face, and clad in a fine laced coat of red cloth. Amidship of the
boat was a box or chest about the bigness of a middle-sized
traveling trunk, but covered all over with cakes of sand and
dirt. In the act of passing, the gentleman, still standing,
pointed at it with an elegant gold-headed cane which he held in
his hand. "Are you come after this, Abraham Dawling?" says he,
and thereat his countenance broke into as evil, malignant a grin
as ever Barnaby True saw in all of his life.
The other did not immediately reply so much as a single word, but
sat as still as any stone. Then, at last, the other boat having
gone by, he suddenly appeared to regain his wits, for he bawled
out after it, "Very well, Jack Malyoe! very well, Jack Malyoe!
you've got ahead of us this time again, but next time is the
third, and then it shall be our turn, even if William Brand must
come back from hell to settle with you."
This he shouted out as the other boat passed farther and farther
away, but to it my fine gentleman made no reply except to burst
out into a great roaring fit of laughter.
There was another man among the armed men in the stern of the
passing boat--a villainous, lean man with lantern jaws, and the
top of his head as bald as the palm of my hand. As the boat went
away into the night with the tide and the headway the oars had
given it, he grinned so that the moonlight shone white on his big
teeth. Then, flourishing a great big pistol, he said, and
Barnaby could hear every word he spoke, "Do but give me the word,
Your Honor, and I'll put another bullet through the son of a sea
But the gentleman said some words to forbid him, and therewith
the boat was gone away into the night, and presently Barnaby
could hear that the men at the oars had begun rowing again,
leaving them lying there, without a single word being said for a
By and by one of those in Barnaby's boat spoke up. "Where shall
you go now?" he said.
At this the leader of the expedition appeared suddenly to come
back to himself, and to find his voice again. "Go?" he roared
out. "Go to the devil! Go? Go where you choose! Go? Go back
again--that's where we'll go!" and therewith he fell a-cursing
and swearing until he foamed at the lips, as though he had gone
clean crazy, while the black men began rowing back again across
the harbor as fast as ever they could lay oars into the water.
They put Barnaby True ashore below the old custom house; but so
bewildered and shaken was he by all that had happened, and by
what he had seen, and by the names that he heard spoken, that he
was scarcely conscious of any of the familiar things among which
he found himself thus standing. And so he walked up the moonlit
street toward his lodging like one drunk or bewildered; for "John
Malyoe" was the name of the captain of the Adventure galley--he
who had shot Barnaby's own grandfather--and "Abraham Dawling" was
the name of the gunner of the Royal Sovereign who had been shot
at the same time with the pirate captain, and who, with him, had
been left stretched out in the staring sun by the murderers.
The whole business had occupied hardly two hours, but it was as
though that time was no part of Barnaby's life, but all a part of
some other life, so dark and strange and mysterious that it in no
wise belonged to him.
As for that box covered all over with mud, he could only guess at
that time what it contained and what the finding of it signified.
But of this our hero said nothing to anyone, nor did he tell a
single living soul what he had seen that night, but nursed it in
his own mind, where it lay so big for a while that he could think
of little or nothing else for days after.
Mr. Greenfield, Mr. Hartright's correspondent and agent in these
parts, lived in a fine brick house just out of the town, on the
Mona Road, his family consisting of a wife and two
daughters--brisk, lively young ladies with black hair and eyes,
and very fine bright teeth that shone whenever they laughed, and
with a plenty to say for themselves. Thither Barnaby True was
often asked to a family dinner; and, indeed, it was a pleasant
home to visit, and to sit upon the veranda and smoke a cigarro
with the good old gentleman and look out toward the mountains,
while the young ladies laughed and talked, or played upon the
guitar and sang. And oftentimes so it was strongly upon
Barnaby's mind to speak to the good gentleman and tell him what
he had beheld that night out in the harbor; but always he would
think better of it and hold his peace, falling to thinking, and
smoking away upon his cigarro at a great rate.
A day or two before the Belle Helen sailed from Kingston Mr.
Greenfield stopped Barnaby True as he was going through the
office to bid him to come to dinner that night (for there within
the tropics they breakfast at eleven o'clock and take dinner in
the cool of the evening, because of the heat, and not at midday,
as we do in more temperate latitudes). "I would have you meet,"
says Mr. Greenfield, "your chief passenger for New York, and his
granddaughter, for whom the state cabin and the two staterooms
are to be fitted as here ordered [showing a letter]--Sir John
Malyoe and Miss Marjorie Malyoe. Did you ever hear tell of Capt.
Jack Malyoe, Master Barnaby?"
Now I do believe that Mr. Greenfield had no notion at all that
old Captain Brand was Barnaby True's own grandfather and Capt.
John Malyoe his murderer, but when he so thrust at him the name
of that man, what with that in itself and the late adventure
through which he himself had just passed, and with his brooding
upon it until it was so prodigiously big in his mind, it was like
hitting him a blow to so fling the questions at him.
Nevertheless, he was able to reply, with a pretty straight face,
that he had heard of Captain Malyoe and who he was.
"Well," says Mr. Greenfield, "if Jack Malyoe was a desperate
pirate and a wild, reckless blade twenty years ago, why, he is
Sir John Malyoe now and the owner of a fine estate in Devonshire.
Well, Master Barnaby, when one is a baronet and come into the
inheritance of a fine estate (though I do hear it is vastly
cumbered with debts), the world will wink its eye to much that he
may have done twenty years ago. I do hear say, though, that his
own kin still turn the cold shoulder to him."
To this address Barnaby answered nothing, but sat smoking away at
his cigarro at a great rate.
And so that night Barnaby True came face to face for the first
time with the man who murdered his own grandfather--the greatest
beast of a man that ever he met in all of his life.
That time in the harbor he had seen Sir John Malyoe at a distance
and in the darkness; now that he beheld him near by it seemed to
him that he had never looked at a more evil face in all his life.
Not that the man was altogether ugly, for he had a good nose and
a fine double chin; but his eyes stood out like balls and were
red and watery, and he winked them continually, as though they
were always smarting; and his lips were thick and purple-red, and
his fat, red cheeks were mottled here and there with little clots
of purple veins; and when he spoke his voice rattled so in his
throat that it made one wish to clear one's own throat to listen
to him. So, what with a pair of fat, white hands, and that hoarse
voice, and his swollen face, and his thick lips sticking out, it
seemed to Barnaby True he had never seen a countenance so
distasteful to him as that one into which he then looked.
But if Sir John Malyoe was so displeasing to our hero's taste,
why, the granddaughter, even this first time he beheld her,
seemed to him to be the most beautiful, lovely young lady that
ever he saw. She had a thin, fair skin, red lips, and yellow
hair--though it was then powdered pretty white for the
occasion--and the bluest eyes that Barnaby beheld in all of his
life. A sweet, timid creature, who seemed not to dare so much as
to speak a word for herself without looking to Sir John for leave
to do so, and would shrink and shudder whenever he would speak of
a sudden to her or direct a sudden glance upon her. When she did
speak, it was in so low a voice that one had to bend his head to
hear her, and even if she smiled would catch herself and look up
as though to see if she had leave to be cheerful.
As for Sir John, he sat at dinner like a pig, and gobbled and ate
and drank, smacking his lips all the while, but with hardly a
word to either her or Mrs. Greenfield or to Barnaby True; but
with a sour, sullen air, as though he would say, "Your damned
victuals and drink are no better than they should be, but I must
eat 'em or nothing." A great bloated beast of a man!
Only after dinner was over and the young lady and the two misses
sat off in a corner together did Barnaby hear her talk with any
ease. Then, to be sure, her tongue became loose, and she
prattled away at a great rate, though hardly above her breath,
until of a sudden her grandfather called out, in his hoarse,
rattling voice, that it was time to go. Whereupon she stopped
short in what she was saying and jumped up from her chair,
looking as frightened as though she had been caught in something
amiss, and was to be punished for it.
Barnaby True and Mr. Greenfield both went out to see the two into
their coach, where Sir John's man stood holding the lantern. And
who should he be, to be sure, but that same lean villain with
bald head who had offered to shoot the leader of our hero's
expedition out on the harbor that night! For, one of the circles
of light from the lantern shining up into his face, Barnaby True
knew him the moment he clapped eyes upon him. Though he could not
have recognized our hero, he grinned at him in the most impudent,
familiar fashion, and never so much as touched his hat either to
him or to Mr. Greenfield; but as soon as his master and his young
mistress had entered the coach, banged to the door and scrambled
up on the seat alongside the driver, and so away without a word,
but with another impudent grin, this time favoring both Barnaby
and the old gentleman.
Such were these two, master and man, and what Barnaby saw of them
then was only confirmed by further observation--the most hateful
couple he ever knew; though, God knows, what they afterward
suffered should wipe out all complaint against them.
The next day Sir John Malyoe's belongings began to come aboard
the Belle Helen, and in the afternoon that same lean, villainous
manservant comes skipping across the gangplank as nimble as a
goat, with two black men behind him lugging a great sea chest.
"What!" he cried out, "and so you is the supercargo, is you? Why,
I thought you was more account when I saw you last night
a-sitting talking with His Honor like his equal. Well, no
matter; 'tis something to have a brisk, genteel young fellow for
a supercargo. So come, my hearty, lend a hand, will you, and help
me set His Honor's cabin to rights."
What a speech was this to endure from such a fellow, to be sure!
and Barnaby so high in his own esteem, and holding himself a
gentleman! Well, what with his distaste for the villain, and
what with such odious familiarity, you can guess into what temper
so impudent an address must have cast him. "You'll find the
steward in yonder," he said, "and he'll show you the cabin," and
therewith turned and walked away with prodigious dignity, leaving
the other standing where he was.
As he entered his own cabin he could not but see, out of the tail
of his eye, that the fellow was still standing where he had left
him, regarding him with a most evil, malevolent countenance, so
that he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had made one
enemy during that voyage who was not very likely to forgive or
forget what he must regard as a slight put upon him.
The next day Sir John Malyoe himself came aboard, accompanied by
his granddaughter, and followed by this man, and he followed
again by four black men, who carried among them two trunks, not
large in size, but prodigious heavy in weight, and toward which
Sir John and his follower devoted the utmost solicitude and care
to see that they were properly carried into the state cabin he
was to occupy. Barnaby True was standing in the great cabin as
they passed close by him; but though Sir John Malyoe looked hard
at him and straight in the face, he never so much as spoke a
single word, or showed by a look or a sign that he knew who our
hero was. At this the serving man, who saw it all with eyes as
quick as a cat's, fell to grinning and chuckling to see Barnaby
in his turn so slighted.
The young lady, who also saw it all, flushed up red, then in the
instant of passing looked straight at our hero, and bowed and
smiled at him with a most sweet and gracious affability, then the
next moment recovering herself, as though mightily frightened at
what she had done.
The same day the Belle Helen sailed, with as beautiful, sweet
weather as ever a body could wish for.
There were only two other passengers aboard, the Rev. Simon
Styles, the master of a flourishing academy in Spanish Town, and
his wife, a good, worthy old couple, but very quiet, and would
sit in the great cabin by the hour together reading, so that,
what with Sir John Malyoe staying all the time in his own cabin
with those two trunks he held so precious, it fell upon Barnaby
True in great part to show attention to the young lady; and glad
enough he was of the opportunity, as anyone may guess. For when
you consider a brisk, lively young man of one-and-twenty and a
sweet, beautiful miss of seventeen so thrown together day after
day for two weeks, the weather being very fair, as I have said,
and the ship tossing and bowling along before a fine humming
breeze that sent white caps all over the sea, and with nothing to
do but sit and look at that blue sea and the bright sky overhead,
it is not hard to suppose what was to befall, and what pleasure
it was to Barnaby True to show attention to her.
But, oh! those days when a man is young, and, whether wisely or
no, fallen in love! How often during that voyage did our hero
lie awake in his berth at night, tossing this way and that
without sleep--not that he wanted to sleep if he could, but would
rather lie so awake thinking about her and staring into the
Poor fool! He might have known that the end must come to such a
fool's paradise before very long. For who was he to look up to
Sir John Malyoe's granddaughter, he, the supercargo of a merchant
ship, and she the granddaughter of a baronet.
Nevertheless, things went along very smooth and pleasant, until
one evening, when all came of a sudden to an end. At that time he
and the young lady had been standing for a long while together,
leaning over the rail and looking out across the water through
the dusk toward the westward, where the sky was still of a
lingering brightness. She had been mightily quiet and dull all
that evening, but now of a sudden she began, without any preface
whatever, to tell Barnaby about herself and her affairs. She
said that she and her grandfather were going to New York that
they might take passage thence to Boston town, there to meet her
cousin Captain Malyoe, who was stationed in garrison at that
place. Then she went on to say that Captain Malyoe was the next
heir to the Devonshire estate, and that she and he were to be
married in the fall.
But, poor Barnaby! what a fool was he, to be sure! Methinks when
she first began to speak about Captain Malyoe he knew what was
coming. But now that she had told him, he could say nothing, but
stood there staring across the ocean, his breath coming hot and
dry as ashes in his throat. She, poor thing, went on to say, in
a very low voice, that she had liked him from the very first
moment she had seen him, and had been very happy for these days,
and would always think of him as a dear friend who had been very
kind to her, who had so little pleasure in life, and so would
always remember him.
Then they were both silent, until at last Barnaby made shift to
say, though in a hoarse and croaking voice, that Captain Malyoe
must be a very happy man, and that if he were in Captain Malyoe's
place he would be the happiest man in the world. Thus, having
spoken, and so found his tongue, he went on to tell her, with his
head all in a whirl, that he, too, loved her, and that what she
had told him struck him to the heart, and made him the most
miserable, unhappy wretch in the whole world.
She was not angry at what he said, nor did she turn to look at
him, but only said, in a low voice, he should not talk so, for
that it could only be a pain to them both to speak of such
things, and that whether she would or no, she must do everything
as her grandfather bade her, for that he was indeed a terrible
To this poor Barnaby could only repeat that he loved her with all
his heart, that he had hoped for nothing in his love, but that he
was now the most miserable man in the world.
It was at this moment, so tragic for him, that some one who had
been hiding nigh them all the while suddenly moved away, and
Barnaby True could see in the gathering darkness that it was that
villain manservant of Sir John Malyoe's and knew that he must
have overheard all that had been said.
The man went straight to the great cabin, and poor Barnaby, his
brain all atingle, stood looking after him, feeling that now
indeed the last drop of bitterness had been added to his trouble
to have such a wretch overhear what he had said.
The young lady could not have seen the fellow, for she continued
leaning over the rail, and Barnaby True, standing at her side,
not moving, but in such a tumult of many passions that he was
like one bewildered, and his heart beating as though to smother
So they stood for I know not how long when, of a sudden, Sir John
Malyoe comes running out of the cabin, without his hat, but
carrying his gold- headed cane, and so straight across the deck
to where Barnaby and the young lady stood, that spying wretch
close at his heels, grinning like an imp.
"You hussy!" bawled out Sir John, so soon as he had come pretty
near them, and in so loud a voice that all on deck might have
heard the words; and as he spoke he waved his cane back and forth
as though he would have struck the young lady, who, shrinking
back almost upon the deck, crouched as though to escape such a
blow. "You hussy!" he bawled out with vile oaths, too horrible
here to be set down. "What do you do here with this Yankee
supercargo, not fit for a gentlewoman to wipe her feet upon? Get
to your cabin, you hussy" (only it was something worse he called
her this time), "before I lay this cane across your shoulders!"
What with the whirling of Barnaby's brains and the passion into
which he was already melted, what with his despair and his love,
and his anger at this address, a man gone mad could scarcely be
less accountable for his actions than was he at that moment.
Hardly knowing what he did, he put his hand against Sir John
Malyoe's breast and thrust him violently back, crying out upon
him in a great, loud, hoarse voice for threatening a young lady,
and saying that for a farthing he would wrench the stick out of
his hand and throw it overboard.
Sir John went staggering back with the push Barnaby gave him, and
then caught himself up again. Then, with a great bellow, ran
roaring at our hero, whirling his cane about, and I do believe
would have struck him (and God knows then what might have
happened) had not his manservant caught him and held him back.
"Keep back!" cried out our hero, still mighty hoarse. "Keep
back! If you strike me with that stick I'll fling you overboard!"
By this time, what with the sound of loud voices and the stamping
of feet, some of the crew and others aboard were hurrying up, and
the next moment Captain Manly and the first mate, Mr. Freesden,
came running out of the cabin. But Barnaby, who was by this
fairly set agoing, could not now stop himself.
"And who are you, anyhow," he cried out, "to threaten to strike
me and to insult me, who am as good as you? You dare not strike
me! You may shoot a man from behind, as you shot poor Captain
Brand on the Rio Cobra River, but you won't dare strike me face
to face. I know who you are and what you are!"
By this time Sir John Malyoe had ceased to endeavor to strike
him, but stood stock-still, his great bulging eyes staring as
though they would pop out of his head.
"What's all this?" cries Captain Manly, bustling up to them with
Mr. Freesden. "What does all this mean?"
But, as I have said, our hero was too far gone now to contain
himself until all that he had to say was out.
"The damned villain insulted me and insulted the young lady," he
cried out, panting in the extremity of his passion, "and then he
threatened to strike me with his cane. But I know who he is and
what he is. I know what he's got in his cabin in those two
trunks, and where he found it, and whom it belongs to. He found
it on the shores of the Rio Cobra River, and I have only to open
my mouth and tell what I know about it."
At this Captain Manly clapped his hand upon our hero's shoulder
and fell to shaking him so that he could scarcely stand, calling
out to him the while to be silent. "What do you mean?" he cried.
"An officer of this ship to quarrel with a passenger of mine! Go
straight to your cabin, and stay there till I give you leave to
come out again."
At this Master Barnaby came somewhat back to himself and into his
wits again with a jump. "But he threatened to strike me with his
cane, Captain," he cried out, "and that I won't stand from any
"No matter what he did," said Captain Manly, very sternly. "Go to
your cabin, as I bid you, and stay there till I tell you to come
out again, and when we get to New York I'll take pains to tell
your stepfather of how you have behaved. I'll have no such
rioting as this aboard my ship."
Barnaby True looked around him, but the young lady was gone. Nor,
in the blindness of his frenzy, had he seen when she had gone nor
whither she went. As for Sir John Malyoe, he stood in the light
of a lantern, his face gone as white as ashes, and I do believe
if a look could kill, the dreadful malevolent stare he fixed upon
Barnaby True would have slain him where he stood.
After Captain Manly had so shaken some wits into poor Barnaby he,
unhappy wretch, went to his cabin, as he was bidden to do, and
there, shutting the door upon himself, and flinging himself down,
all dressed as he was, upon his berth, yielded himself over to
the profoundest passion of humiliation and despair.
There he lay for I know not how long, staring into the darkness,
until by and by, in spite of his suffering and his despair, he
dozed off into a loose sleep, that was more like waking than
sleep, being possessed continually by the most vivid and
distasteful dreams, from which he would awaken only to doze off
and to dream again.
It was from the midst of one of these extravagant dreams that he
was suddenly aroused by the noise of a pistol shot, and then the
noise of another and another, and then a great bump and a
grinding jar, and then the sound of many footsteps running across
the deck and down into the great cabin. Then came a tremendous
uproar of voices in the great cabin, the struggling as of men's
bodies being tossed about, striking violently against the
partitions and bulkheads. At the same instant arose a screaming
of women's voices, and one voice, and that Sir John Malyoe's,
crying out as in the greatest extremity: "You villains! You
damned villains!" and with the sudden detonation of a pistol
fired into the close space of the great cabin.
Barnaby was out in the middle of his cabin in a moment, and
taking only time enough to snatch down one of the pistols that
hung at the head of his berth, flung out into the great cabin, to
find it as black as night, the lantern slung there having been
either blown out or dashed out into darkness. The prodigiously
dark space was full of uproar, the hubbub and confusion pierced
through and through by that keen sound of women's voices
screaming, one in the cabin and the other in the stateroom
beyond. Almost immediately Barnaby pitched headlong over two or
three struggling men scuffling together upon the deck, falling
with a great clatter and the loss of his pistol, which, however,
he regained almost immediately.
What all the uproar meant he could not tell, but he presently
heard Captain Manly's voice from somewhere suddenly calling out,
"You bloody pirate, would you choke me to death?" wherewith some
notion of what had happened came to him like a dash, and that
they had been attacked in the night by pirates.
Looking toward the companionway, he saw, outlined against the
darkness of the night without, the blacker form of a man's
figure, standing still and motionless as a statue in the midst of
all this hubbub, and so by some instinct he knew in a moment that
that must be the master maker of all this devil's brew.
Therewith, still kneeling upon the deck, he covered the bosom of
that shadowy figure pointblank, as he thought, with his pistol,
and instantly pulled the trigger.
In the flash of red light, and in the instant stunning report of
the pistol shot, Barnaby saw, as stamped upon the blackness, a
broad, flat face with fishy eyes, a lean, bony forehead with what
appeared to be a great blotch of blood upon the side, a cocked
hat trimmed with gold lace, a red scarf across the breast, and
the gleam of brass buttons. Then the darkness, very thick and
black, swallowed everything again.
But in the instant Sir John Malyoe called out, in a great loud
voice: "My God! 'Tis William Brand!" Therewith came the sound
of some one falling heavily down.
The next moment, Barnaby's sight coming back to him again in the
darkness, he beheld that dark and motionless figure still
standing exactly where it had stood before, and so knew either
that he had missed it or else that it was of so supernatural a
sort that a leaden bullet might do it no harm. Though if it was
indeed an apparition that Barnaby beheld in that moment, there is
this to say, that he saw it as plain as ever he saw a living man
in all of his life.
This was the last our hero knew, for the next moment
somebody--whether by accident or design he never knew--struck him
such a terrible violent blow upon the side of the head that he
saw forty thousand stars flash before his eyeballs, and then,
with a great humming in his head, swooned dead away.
When Barnaby True came back to his senses again it was to find
himself being cared for with great skill and nicety, his head
bathed with cold water, and a bandage being bound about it as
carefully as though a chirurgeon was attending to him.
He could not immediately recall what had happened to him, nor
until he had opened his eyes to find himself in a strange cabin,
extremely well fitted and painted with white and gold, the light
of a lantern shining in his eyes, together with the gray of the
early daylight through the dead- eye. Two men were bending over
him--one, a negro in a striped shirt, with a yellow handkerchief
around his head and silver earrings in his ears; the other, a
white man, clad in a strange outlandish dress of a foreign make,
and with great mustachios hanging down, and with gold earrings in
It was the latter who was attending to Barnaby's hurt with such
extreme care and gentleness.
All this Barnaby saw with his first clear consciousness after his
swoon. Then remembering what had befallen him, and his head
beating as though it would split asunder, he shut his eyes again,
contriving with great effort to keep himself from groaning aloud,
and wondering as to what sort of pirates these could be who would
first knock a man in the head so terrible a blow as that which he
had suffered, and then take such care to fetch him back to life
again, and to make him easy and comfortable.
Nor did he open his eyes again, but lay there gathering his wits
together and wondering thus until the bandage was properly tied
about his head and sewed together. Then once more he opened his
eyes, and looked up to ask where he was.
Either they who were attending to him did not choose to reply, or
else they could not speak English, for they made no answer,
excepting by signs; for the white man, seeing that he was now
able to speak, and so was come back into his senses again, nodded
his head three or four times, and smiled with a grin of his white
teeth, and then pointed, as though toward a saloon beyond. At the
same time the negro held up our hero's coat and beckoned for him
to put it on, so that Barnaby, seeing that it was required of him
to meet some one without, arose, though with a good deal of
effort, and permitted the negro to help him on with his coat,
still feeling mightily dizzy and uncertain upon his legs, his
head beating fit to split, and the vessel rolling and pitching at
a great rate, as though upon a heavy ground swell.
So, still sick and dizzy, he went out into what was indeed a fine
saloon beyond, painted in white and gilt like the cabin he had
just quitted, and fitted in the nicest fashion, a mahogany table,
polished very bright, extending the length of the room, and a
quantity of bottles, together with glasses of clear crystal,
arranged in a hanging rack above.
Here at the table a man was sitting with his back to our hero,
clad in a rough pea-jacket, and with a red handkerchief tied
around his throat, his feet stretched out before him, and he
smoking a pipe of tobacco with all the ease and comfort in the
As Barnaby came in he turned round, and, to the profound
astonishment of our hero, presented toward him in the light of
the lantern, the dawn shining pretty strong through the skylight,
the face of that very man who had conducted the mysterious
expedition that night across Kingston Harbor to the Rio Cobra
This man looked steadily at Barnaby True for a moment or two, and
then burst out laughing; and, indeed, Barnaby, standing there
with the bandage about his head, must have looked a very droll
picture of that astonishment he felt so profoundly at finding who
was this pirate into whose hands he had fallen.
"Well," says the other, "and so you be up at last, and no great
harm done, I'll be bound. And how does your head feel by now, my
To this Barnaby made no reply, but, what with wonder and the
dizziness of his head, seated himself at the table over against
the speaker, who pushed a bottle of rum toward him, together with
a glass from the swinging shelf above.
He watched Barnaby fill his glass, and so soon as he had done so
began immediately by saying: "I do suppose you think you were
treated mightily ill to be so handled last night. Well, so you
were treated ill enough-- though who hit you that crack upon the
head I know no more than a child unborn. Well, I am sorry for the
way you were handled, but there is this much to say, and of that
you may believe me, that nothing was meant to you but kindness,
and before you are through with us all you will believe that well
Here he helped himself to a taste of grog, and sucking in his
lips, went on again with what he had to say. "Do you remember,"
said he, "that expedition of ours in Kingston Harbor, and how we
were all of us balked that night?"
"Why, yes," said Barnaby True, "nor am I likely to forget it."
"And do you remember what I said to that villain, Jack Malyoe,
that night as his boat went by us?"
"As to that," said Barnaby True, "I do not know that I can say
yes or no, but if you will tell me, I will maybe answer you in
"Why, I mean this," said the other. "I said that the villain had
got the better of us once again, but that next time it would be
our turn, even if William Brand himself had to come back from
hell to put the business through."
"I remember something of the sort," said Barnaby, "now that you
speak of it, but still I am all in the dark as to what you are
The other looked at him very cunningly for a little while, his
head on one side, and his eyes half shut. Then, as if satisfied,
he suddenly burst out laughing. "Look hither," said he, "and
I'll show you something," and therewith, moving to one side,
disclosed a couple of traveling cases or small trunks with brass
studs, so exactly like those that Sir John Malyoe had fetched
aboard at Jamaica that Barnaby, putting this and that together,
knew that they must be the same.
Our hero had a strong enough suspicion as to what those two cases
contained, and his suspicions had become a certainty when he saw
Sir John Malyoe struck all white at being threatened about them,
and his face lowering so malevolently as to look murder had he
dared do it. But, Lord! what were suspicions or even certainty
to what Barnaby True's two eyes beheld when that man lifted the
lids of the two cases--the locks thereof having already been
forced--and, flinging back first one lid and then the other,
displayed to Barnaby's astonished sight a great treasure of gold
and silver! Most of it tied up in leathern bags, to be sure, but
many of the coins, big and little, yellow and white, lying loose
and scattered about like so many beans, brimming the cases to the
Barnaby sat dumb-struck at what he beheld; as to whether he
breathed or no, I cannot tell; but this I know, that he sat
staring at that marvelous treasure like a man in a trance, until,
after a few seconds of this golden display, the other banged down
the lids again and burst out laughing, whereupon he came back to
himself with a jump.
"Well, and what do you think of that?" said the other. "Is it not
enough for a man to turn pirate for? But," he continued, "it is
not for the sake of showing you this that I have been waiting for
you here so long a while, but to tell you that you are not the
only passenger aboard, but that there is another, whom I am to
confide to your care and attention, according to orders I have
received; so, if you are ready, Master Barnaby, I'll fetch her in
directly." He waited for a moment, as though for Barnaby to
speak, but our hero not replying, he arose and, putting away the
bottle of rum and the glasses, crossed the saloon to a door like
that from which Barnaby had come a little while before. This he
opened, and after a moment's delay and a few words spoken to some
one within, ushered thence a young lady, who came out very slowly
into the saloon where Barnaby still sat at the table.
It was Miss Marjorie Malyoe, very white, and looking as though
stunned or bewildered by all that had befallen her.
Barnaby True could never tell whether the amazing strange voyage
that followed was of long or of short duration; whether it
occupied three days or ten days. For conceive, if you choose,
two people of flesh and blood moving and living continually in
all the circumstances and surroundings as of a nightmare dream,
yet they two so happy together that all the universe beside was
of no moment to them! How was anyone to tell whether in such
circumstances any time appeared to be long or short? Does a dream
appear to be long or to be short?
The vessel in which they sailed was a brigantine of good size and
build, but manned by a considerable crew, the most strange and
outlandish in their appearance that Barnaby had ever
beheld--some white, some yellow, some black, and all tricked out
with gay colors, and gold earrings in their ears, and some with
great long mustachios, and others with handkerchiefs tied around
their heads, and all talking a language together of which Barnaby
True could understand not a single word, but which might have
been Portuguese from one or two phrases he caught. Nor did this
strange, mysterious crew, of God knows what sort of men, seem to
pay any attention whatever to Barnaby or to the young lady. They
might now and then have looked at him and her out of the corners
of their yellow eyes, but that was all; otherwise they were
indeed like the creatures of a nightmare dream. Only he who was
the captain of this outlandish crew would maybe speak to Barnaby
a few words as to the weather or what not when he would come down
into the saloon to mix a glass of grog or to light a pipe of
tobacco, and then to go on deck again about his business.
Otherwise our hero and the young lady were left to themselves, to
do as they pleased, with no one to interfere with them.
As for her, she at no time showed any great sign of terror or of
fear, only for a little while was singularly numb and quiet, as
though dazed with what had happened to her. Indeed, methinks
that wild beast, her grandfather, had so crushed her spirit by
his tyranny and his violence that nothing that happened to her
might seem sharp and keen, as it does to others of an ordinary
But this was only at first, for afterward her face began to grow
singularly clear, as with a white light, and she would sit quite
still, permitting Barnaby to gaze, I know not how long, into her
eyes, her face so transfigured and her lips smiling, and they, as
it were, neither of them breathing, but hearing, as in another
far-distant place, the outlandish jargon of the crew talking
together in the warm, bright sunlight, or the sound of creaking
block and tackle as they hauled upon the sheets.
Is it, then, any wonder that Barnaby True could never remember
whether such a voyage as this was long or short?
It was as though they might have sailed so upon that wonderful
voyage forever. You may guess how amazed was Barnaby True when,
coming upon deck one morning, he found the brigantine riding upon
an even keel, at anchor off Staten Island, a small village on the
shore, and the well- known roofs and chimneys of New York town in
plain sight across the water.
'Twas the last place in the world he had expected to see.
And, indeed, it did seem strange to lie there alongside Staten
Island all that day, with New York town so nigh at hand and yet
so impossible to reach. For whether he desired to escape or no,
Barnaby True could not but observe that both he and the young
lady were so closely watched that they might as well have been
prisoners, tied hand and foot and laid in the hold, so far as any
hope of getting away was concerned.
All that day there was a deal of mysterious coming and going
aboard the brigantine, and in the afternoon a sailboat went up to
the town, carrying the captain, and a great load covered over
with a tarpaulin in the stern. What was so taken up to the town
Barnaby did not then guess, but the boat did not return again
till about sundown.
For the sun was just dropping below the water when the captain
came aboard once more and, finding Barnaby on deck, bade him come
down into the saloon, where they found the young lady sitting,
the broad light of the evening shining in through the skylight,
and making it all pretty bright within.
The captain commanded Barnaby to be seated, for he had something
of moment to say to him; whereupon, as soon as Barnaby had taken
his place alongside the young lady, he began very seriously, with
a preface somewhat thus: "Though you may think me the captain of
this brigantine, young gentleman, I am not really so, but am
under orders, and so have only carried out those orders of a
superior in all these things that I have done." Having so begun,
he went on to say that there was one thing yet remaining for him
to do, and that the greatest thing of all. He said that Barnaby
and the young lady had not been fetched away from the Belle Helen
as they were by any mere chance of accident, but that 'twas all a
plan laid by a head wiser than his, and carried out by one whom
he must obey in all things. He said that he hoped that both
Barnaby and the young lady would perform willingly what they
would be now called upon to do, but that whether they did it
willingly or no, they must, for that those were the orders of one
who was not to be disobeyed.
You may guess how our hero held his breath at all this; but
whatever might have been his expectations, the very wildest of
them all did not reach to that which was demanded of him. "My
orders are these," said the other, continuing: "I am to take you
and the young lady ashore, and to see that you are married before
I quit you; and to that end a very good, decent, honest minister
who lives ashore yonder in the village was chosen and hath been
spoken to and is now, no doubt, waiting for you to come. Such are
my orders, and this is the last thing I am set to do; so now I
will leave you alone together for five minutes to talk it over,
but be quick about it, for whether willing or not, this thing
must be done."
Thereupon he went away, as he had promised, leaving those two
alone together, Barnaby like one turned into stone, and the young
lady, her face turned away, flaming as red as fire in the fading
Nor can I tell what Barnaby said to her, nor what words he used,
but only, all in a tumult, with neither beginning nor end he told
her that God knew he loved her, and that with all his heart and
soul, and that there was nothing in all the world for him but
her; but, nevertheless, if she would not have it as had been
ordered, and if she were not willing to marry him as she was
bidden to do, he would rather die than lend himself to forcing
her to do such a thing against her will. Nevertheless, he told
her she must speak up and tell him yes or no, and that God knew
he would give all the world if she would say "yes."
All this and more he said in such a tumult of words that there
was no order in their speaking, and she sitting there, her bosom
rising and falling as though her breath stifled her. Nor may I
tell what she replied to him, only this, that she said she would
marry him. At this he took her into his arms and set his lips to
hers, his heart all melting away in his bosom.
So presently came the captain back into the saloon again, to find
Barnaby sitting there holding her hand, she with her face turned
away, and his heart beating like a trip hammer, and so saw that
all was settled as he would have it. Wherewith he wished them
both joy, and gave Barnaby his hand.
The yawlboat belonging to the brigantine was ready and waiting
alongside when they came upon deck, and immediately they
descended to it and took their seats. So they landed, and in a
little while were walking up the village street in the darkness,
she clinging to his arm as though she would swoon, and the
captain of the brigantine and two other men from aboard following
after them. And so to the minister's house, finding him waiting
for them, smoking his pipe in the warm evening, and walking up
and down in front of his own door. He immediately conducted them
into the house, where, his wife having fetched a candle, and two
others of the village folk being present, the good man having
asked several questions as to their names and their age and where
they were from, the ceremony was performed, and the certificate
duly signed by those present-- excepting the men who had come
ashore from the brigantine, and who refused to set their hands to
The same sailboat that had taken the captain up to the town in
the afternoon was waiting for them at the landing place, whence,
the captain, having wished them Godspeed, and having shaken
Barnaby very heartily by the hand, they pushed off, and, coming
about, ran away with the slant of the wind, dropping the shore
and those strange beings alike behind them into the night.
As they sped away through the darkness they could hear the
creaking of the sails being hoisted aboard of the brigantine, and
so knew that she was about to put to sea once more. Nor did
Barnaby True ever set eyes upon those beings again, nor did
anyone else that I ever heard tell of.
It was nigh midnight when they made Mr. Hartright's wharf at the
foot of Wall Street, and so the streets were all dark and silent
and deserted as they walked up to Barnaby's home.
You may conceive of the wonder and amazement of Barnaby's dear
stepfather when, clad in a dressing gown and carrying a lighted
candle in his hand, he unlocked and unbarred the door, and so saw
who it was had aroused him at such an hour of the night, and the
young and beautiful lady whom Barnaby had fetched with him.
The first thought of the good man was that the Belle Helen had
come into port; nor did Barnaby undeceive him as he led the way
into the house, but waited until they were all safe and sound in
privily together before he should unfold his strange and
"This was left for you by two foreign sailors this afternoon,
Barnaby," the good old man said, as he led the way through the
hall, holding up the candle at the same time, so that Barnaby
might see an object that stood against the wainscoting by the
door of the dining room.
Nor could Barnaby refrain from crying out with amazement when he
saw that it was one of the two chests of treasure that Sir John
Malyoe had fetched from Jamaica, and which the pirates had taken
from the Belle Helen. As for Mr. Hartright, he guessed no more
what was in it than the man in the moon.
The next day but one brought the Belle Helen herself into port,
with the terrible news not only of having been attacked at night
by pirates, but also that Sir John Malyoe was dead. For whether
it was the sudden shock of the sight of his old captain's
face--whom he himself had murdered and thought dead and
buried--flashing so out against the darkness, or whether it was
the strain of passion that overset his brains, certain it is that
when the pirates left the Belle Helen, carrying with them the
young lady and Barnaby and the traveling trunks, those left
aboard the Belle Helen found Sir John Malyoe lying in a fit upon
the floor, frothing at the mouth and black in the face, as though
he had been choked, and so took him away to his berth, where, the
next morning about ten o'clock, he died, without once having
opened his eyes or spoken a single word.
As for the villain manservant, no one ever saw him afterward;
though whether he jumped overboard, or whether the pirates who so
attacked the ship had carried him away bodily, who shall say?
Mr. Hartright, after he had heard Barnaby's story, had been very
uncertain as to the ownership of the chest of treasure that had
been left by those men for Barnaby, but the news of the death of
Sir John Malyoe made the matter very easy for him to decide. For
surely if that treasure did not belong to Barnaby, there could be
no doubt that it must belong to his wife, she being Sir John
Malyoe's legal heir. And so it was that that great fortune (in
actual computation amounting to upward of sixty- three thousand
pounds) came to Barnaby True, the grandson of that famous pirate,
William Brand; the English estate in Devonshire, in default of
male issue of Sir John Malyoe, descended to Captain Malyoe, whom
the young lady was to have married.
As for the other case of treasure, it was never heard of again,
nor could Barnaby ever guess whether it was divided as booty
among the pirates, or whether they had carried it away with them
to some strange and foreign land, there to share it among
And so the ending of the story, with only this to observe, that
whether that strange appearance of Captain Brand's face by the
light of the pistol was a ghostly and spiritual appearance, or
whether he was present in flesh and blood, there is only to say
that he was never heard of again; nor had he ever been heard of
till that time since the day he was so shot from behind by Capt.
John Malyoe on the banks of the Rio Cobra River in the year 1733.
WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Being an Account of Certain Adventures that Befell Henry Mostyn
Under Capt. H. Morgan in the Year 1665-66
ALTHOUGH this narration has more particularly to do with the
taking of the Spanish vice admiral in the harbor of Porto Bello,
and of the rescue therefrom of Le Sieur Simon, his wife and
daughter (the adventure of which was successfully achieved by
Captain Morgan, the famous buccaneer), we shall, nevertheless,
premise something of the earlier history of Master Harry Mostyn,
whom you may, if you please, consider as the hero of the several
circumstances recounted in these pages.
In the year 1664 our hero's father embarked from Portsmouth, in
England, for the Barbados, where he owned a considerable sugar
plantation. Thither to those parts of America he transported with
himself his whole family, of whom our Master Harry was the fifth
of eight children--a great lusty fellow as little fitted for the
Church (for which he was designed) as could be. At the time of
this story, though not above sixteen years old, Master Harry
Mostyn was as big and well-grown as many a man of twenty, and of
such a reckless and dare-devil spirit that no adventure was too
dangerous or too mischievous for him to embark upon.
At this time there was a deal of talk in those parts of the
Americas concerning Captain Morgan, and the prodigious successes
he was having pirating against the Spaniards.
This man had once been an indentured servant with Mr. Rolls, a
sugar factor at the Barbados. Having served out his time, and
being of lawless disposition, possessing also a prodigious
appetite for adventure, he joined with others of his kidney, and,
purchasing a caravel of three guns, embarked fairly upon that
career of piracy the most successful that ever was heard of in
Master Harry had known this man very well while he was still with
Mr. Rolls, serving as a clerk at that gentleman's sugar wharf, a
tall, broad- shouldered, strapping fellow, with red cheeks, and
thick red lips, and rolling blue eyes, and hair as red as any
chestnut. Many knew him for a bold, gruff-spoken man, but no one
at that time suspected that he had it in him to become so famous
and renowned as he afterward grew to be.
The fame of his exploits had been the talk of those parts for
above a twelvemonth, when, in the latter part of the year 1665,
Captain Morgan, having made a very successful expedition against
the Spaniards into the Gulf of Campeche--where he took several
important purchases from the plate fleet--came to the Barbados,
there to fit out another such venture, and to enlist recruits.
He and certain other adventurers had purchased a vessel of some
five hundred tons, which they proposed to convert into a pirate
by cutting portholes for cannon, and running three or four
carronades across her main deck. The name of this ship, be it
mentioned, was the Good Samaritan, as ill-fitting a name as could
be for such a craft, which, instead of being designed for the
healing of wounds, was intended to inflict such devastation as
those wicked men proposed.
Here was a piece of mischief exactly fitted to our hero's tastes;
wherefore, having made up a bundle of clothes, and with not above
a shilling in his pocket, he made an excursion into the town to
seek for Captain Morgan. There he found the great pirate
established at an ordinary, with a little court of ragamuffins
and swashbucklers gathered about him, all talking very loud, and
drinking healths in raw rum as though it were sugared water.
And what a fine figure our buccaneer had grown, to be sure! How
different from the poor, humble clerk upon the sugar wharf! What
a deal of gold braid! What a fine, silver-hilled Spanish sword!
What a gay velvet sling, hung with three silver-mounted pistols!
If Master Harry's mind had not been made up before, to be sure
such a spectacle of glory would have determined it.
This figure of war our hero asked to step aside with him, and
when they had come into a corner, proposed to the other what he
intended, and that he had a mind to enlist as a gentleman
adventurer upon this expedition. Upon this our rogue of a
buccaneer captain burst out a-laughing, and fetching Master Harry
a great thump upon the back, swore roundly that he would make a
man of him, and that it was a pity to make a parson out of so
good a piece of stuff.
Nor was Captain Morgan less good than his word, for when the Good
Samaritan set sail with a favoring wind for the island of
Jamaica, Master Harry found himself established as one of the
Could you but have seen the town of Port Royal as it appeared in
the year 1665 you would have beheld a sight very well worth while
looking upon. There were no fine houses at that time, and no
great counting houses built of brick, such as you may find
nowadays, but a crowd of board and wattled huts huddled along the
streets, and all so gay with flags and bits of color that Vanity
Fair itself could not have been gayer. To this place came all the
pirates and buccaneers that infested those parts, and men shouted
and swore and gambled, and poured out money like water, and then
maybe wound up their merrymaking by dying of fever. For the sky
in these torrid latitudes is all full of clouds overhead, and as
hot as any blanket, and when the sun shone forth it streamed down
upon the smoking sands so that the houses were ovens and the
streets were furnaces; so it was little wonder that men died like
rats in a hole. But little they appeared to care for that; so
that everywhere you might behold a multitude of painted women and
Jews and merchants and pirates, gaudy with red scarfs and gold
braid and all sorts of odds and ends of foolish finery, all
fighting and gambling and bartering for that ill-gotten treasure
of the be-robbed Spaniard.
Here, arriving, Captain Morgan found a hearty welcome, and a
message from the governor awaiting him, the message bidding him
attend His Excellency upon the earliest occasion that offered.
Whereupon, taking our hero (of whom he had grown prodigiously
fond) along with him, our pirate went, without any loss of time,
to visit Sir Thomas Modiford, who was then the royal governor of
all this devil's brew of wickedness.
They found His Excellency seated in a great easy-chair, under the
shadow of a slatted veranda, the floor whereof was paved with
brick. He was clad, for the sake of coolness, only in his shirt,
breeches, and stockings, and he wore slippers on his feet. He
was smoking a great cigarro of tobacco, and a goblet of lime
juice and water and rum stood at his elbow on a table. Here, out
of the glare of the heat, it was all very cool and pleasant, with
a sea breeze blowing violently in through the slats, setting them
a-rattling now and then, and stirring Sir Thomas's long hair,
which he had pushed back for the sake of coolness.
The purport of this interview, I may tell you, concerned the
rescue of one Le Sieur Simon, who, together with his wife and
daughter, was held captive by the Spaniards.
This gentleman adventurer (Le Sieur Simon) had, a few years
before, been set up by the buccaneers as governor of the island
of Santa Catharina. This place, though well fortified by the
Spaniards, the buccaneers had seized upon, establishing
themselves thereon, and so infesting the commerce of those seas
that no Spanish fleet was safe from them. At last the Spaniards,
no longer able to endure these assaults against their commerce,
sent a great force against the freebooters to drive them out of
their island stronghold. This they did, retaking Santa Catharina,
together with its governor, his wife, and daughter, as well as
the whole garrison of buccaneers.
This garrison was sent by their conquerors, some to the galleys,
some to the mines, some to no man knows where. The governor
himself--Le Sieur Simon--was to be sent to Spain, there to stand
his trial for piracy.
The news of all this, I may tell you, had only just been received
in Jamaica, having been brought thither by a Spanish captain, one
Don Roderiguez Sylvia, who was, besides, the bearer of dispatches
to the Spanish authorities relating the whole affair.
Such, in fine, was the purport of this interview, and as our hero
and his captain walked back together from the governor's house to
the ordinary where they had taken up their inn, the buccaneer
assured his companion that he purposed to obtain those dispatches
from the Spanish captain that very afternoon, even if he had to
use force to seize them.
All this, you are to understand, was undertaken only because of
the friendship that the governor and Captain Morgan entertained
for Le Sieur Simon. And, indeed, it was wonderful how honest and
how faithful were these wicked men in their dealings with one
another. For you must know that Governor Modiford and Le Sieur
Simon and the buccaneers were all of one kidney--all taking a
share in the piracies of those times, and all holding by one
another as though they were the honestest men in the world. Hence
it was they were all so determined to rescue Le Sieur Simon from
Having reached his ordinary after his interview with the
governor, Captain Morgan found there a number of his companions,
such as usually gathered at that place to be in attendance upon
him--some, those belonging to the Good Samaritan; others, those
who hoped to obtain benefits from him; others, those ragamuffins
who gathered around him because he was famous, and because it
pleased them to be of his court and to be called his followers.
For nearly always your successful pirate had such a little court
Finding a dozen or more of these rascals gathered there, Captain
Morgan informed them of his present purpose that he was going to
find the Spanish captain to demand his papers of him, and
calling upon them to accompany him.
With this following at his heels, our buccaneer started off down
the street, his lieutenant, a Cornishman named Bartholomew Davis,
upon one hand and our hero upon the other. So they paraded the
streets for the best part of an hour before they found the
Spanish captain. For whether he had got wind that Captain Morgan
was searching for him, or whether, finding himself in a place so
full of his enemies, he had buried himself in some place of
hiding, it is certain that the buccaneers had traversed pretty
nearly the whole town before they discovered that he was lying at
a certain auberge kept by a Portuguese Jew. Thither they went,
and thither Captain Morgan entered with the utmost coolness and
composure of demeanor, his followers crowding noisily in at his
The space within was very dark, being lighted only by the doorway
and by two large slatted windows or openings in the front.
In this dark, hot place not over-roomy at the best--were gathered
twelve or fifteen villainous-appearing men, sitting at tables and
drinking together, waited upon by the Jew and his wife. Our hero
had no trouble in discovering which of this lot of men was
Captain Sylvia, for not only did Captain Morgan direct his glance
full of war upon him, but the Spaniard was clad with more
particularity and with more show of finery than any of the others
who were there.
Him Captain Morgan approached and demanded his papers, whereunto
the other replied with such a jabber of Spanish and English that
no man could have understood what he said. To this Captain Morgan
in turn replied that he must have those papers, no matter what it
might cost him to obtain them, and thereupon drew a pistol from
his sling and presented it at the other's head.
At this threatening action the innkeeper's wife fell a-screaming,
and the Jew, as in a frenzy, besought them not to tear the house
down about his ears.
Our hero could hardly tell what followed, only that all of a
sudden there was a prodigious uproar of combat. knives flashed
everywhere, and then a pistol was fired so close to his head that
he stood like one stunned, hearing some one crying out in a loud
voice, but not knowing whether it was a friend or a foe who had
been shot. Then another pistol shot so deafened what was left of
Master Harry's hearing that his ears rang for above an hour
afterward. By this time the whole place was full of gunpowder
smoke, and there was the sound of blows and oaths and outcrying
and the clashing of knives.
As Master Harry, who had no great stomach for such a combat, and
no very particular interest in the quarrel, was making for the
door, a little Portuguese, as withered and as nimble as an ape,
came ducking under the table and plunged at his stomach with a
great long knife, which, had it effected its object, would surely
have ended his adventures then and there. Finding himself in such
danger, Master Harry snatched up a heavy chair, and, flinging it
at his enemy, who was preparing for another attack, he fairly ran
for it out of the door, expecting every instant to feel the
thrust of the blade betwixt his ribs.
A considerable crowd had gathered outside, and others, hearing
the uproar, were coming running to join them. With these our hero
stood, trembling like a leaf, and with cold chills running up and
down his back like water at the narrow escape from the danger
that had threatened him.
Nor shall you think him a coward, for you must remember he was
hardly sixteen years old at the time, and that this was the first
affair of the sort he had encountered. Afterward, as you shall
learn, he showed that he could exhibit courage enough at a pinch.
While he stood there, endeavoring to recover his composure, the
while the tumult continued within, suddenly two men came running
almost together out of the door, a crowd of the combatants at
their heels. The first of these men was Captain Sylvia; the
other, who was pursuing him, was Captain Morgan.
As the crowd about the door parted before the sudden appearing of
these, the Spanish captain, perceiving, as he supposed, a way of
escape opened to him, darted across the street with incredible
swiftness toward an alleyway upon the other side. Upon this,
seeing his prey like to get away from him, Captain Morgan
snatched a pistol out of his sling, and resting it for an instant
across his arm, fired at the flying Spaniard, and that with so
true an aim that, though the street was now full of people, the
other went tumbling over and over all of a heap in the kennel,
where he lay, after a twitch or two, as still as a log.
At the sound of the shot and the fall of the man the crowd
scattered upon all sides, yelling and screaming, and the street
being thus pretty clear, Captain Morgan ran across the way to
where his victim lay, his smoking pistol still in his hand, and
our hero following close at his heels.
Our poor Harry had never before beheld a man killed thus in an
instant who a moment before had been so full of life and
activity, for when Captain Morgan turned the body over upon its
back he could perceive at a glance, little as he knew of such
matters, that the man was stone-dead. And, indeed, it was a
dreadful sight for him who was hardly more than a child. He stood
rooted for he knew not how long, staring down at the dead face
with twitching fingers and shuddering limbs. Meantime a great
crowd was gathering about them again. As for Captain Morgan, he
went about his work with the utmost coolness and deliberation
imaginable, unbuttoning the waistcoat and the shirt of the man he
had murdered with fingers that neither twitched nor shook. There
were a gold cross and a bunch of silver medals hung by a whipcord
about the neck of the dead man. This Captain Morgan broke away
with a snap, reaching the jingling baubles to Harry, who took
them in his nerveless hand and fingers that he could hardly close
upon what they held.
The papers Captain Morgan found in a wallet in an inner breast
pocket of the Spaniard's waistcoat. These he examined one by
one, and finding them to his satisfaction, tied them up again,
and slipped the wallet and its contents into his own pocket.
Then for the first time he appeared to observe Master Harry, who,
indeed, must have been standing, the perfect picture of horror
and dismay. Whereupon, bursting out a-laughing, and slipping the
pistol he had used back into its sling again, he fetched poor
Harry a great slap upon the back, bidding him be a man, for that
he would see many such sights as this.
But indeed, it was no laughing matter for poor Master Harry, for
it was many a day before his imagination could rid itself of the
image of the dead Spaniard's face; and as he walked away down
the street with his companions, leaving the crowd behind them,
and the dead body where it lay for its friends to look after, his
ears humming and ringing from the deafening noise of the pistol
shots fired in the close room, and the sweat trickling down his
face in drops, he knew not whether all that had passed had been
real, or whether it was a dream from which he might presently
The papers Captain Morgan had thus seized upon as the fruit of
the murder he had committed must have been as perfectly
satisfactory to him as could be, for having paid a second visit
that evening to Governor Modiford, the pirate lifted anchor the
next morning and made sail toward the Gulf of Darien. There,
after cruising about in those waters for about a fortnight
without falling in with a vessel of any sort, at the end of that
time they overhauled a caravel bound from Porto Bello to
Cartagena, which vessel they took, and finding her loaded with
nothing better than raw hides, scuttled and sank her, being then
about twenty leagues from the main of Cartagena. From the
captain of this vessel they learned that the plate fleet was then
lying in the harbor of Porto Bello, not yet having set sail
thence, but waiting for the change of the winds before embarking
for Spain. Besides this, which was a good deal more to their
purpose, the Spaniards told the pirates that the Sieur Simon, his
wife, and daughter were confined aboard the vice admiral of that
fleet, and that the name of the vice admiral was the Santa Maria
So soon as Captain Morgan had obtained the information he desired
he directed his course straight for the Bay of Santo Blaso, where
he might lie safely within the cape of that name without any
danger of discovery (that part of the mainland being entirely
uninhabited) and yet be within twenty or twenty-five leagues of
Having come safely to this anchorage, he at once declared his
intentions to his companions, which were as follows:
That it was entirely impossible for them to hope to sail their
vessel into the harbor of Porto Bello, and to attack the Spanish
vice admiral where he lay in the midst of the armed flota;
wherefore, if anything was to be accomplished, it must be
undertaken by some subtle design rather than by open-handed
boldness. Having so prefaced what he had to say, he now declared
that it was his purpose to take one of the ship's boats and to go
in that to Porto Bello, trusting for some opportunity to occur to
aid him either in the accomplishment of his aims or in the
gaining of some further information. Having thus delivered
himself, he invited any who dared to do so to volunteer for the
expedition, telling them plainly that he would constrain no man
to go against his will, for that at best it was a desperate
enterprise, possessing only the recommendation that in its
achievement the few who undertook it would gain great renown, and
perhaps a very considerable booty.
And such was the incredible influence of this bold man over his
companions, and such was their confidence in his skill and
cunning, that not above a dozen of all those aboard hung back
from the undertaking, but nearly every man desired to be taken.
Of these volunteers Captain Morgan chose twenty--among others our
Master Harry--and having arranged with his lieutenant that if
nothing was heard from the expedition at the end of three days he
should sail for Jamaica to await news, he embarked upon that
enterprise, which, though never heretofore published, was perhaps
the boldest and the most desperate of all those that have since
made his name so famous. For what could be a more unparalleled
undertaking than for a little open boat, containing but twenty
men, to enter the harbor of the third strongest fortress of the
Spanish mainland with the intention of cutting out the Spanish
vice admiral from the midst of a whole fleet of powerfully armed
vessels, and how many men in all the world do you suppose would
venture such a thing?
But there is this to be said of that great buccaneer: that if he
undertook enterprises so desperate as this, he yet laid his plans
so well that they never went altogether amiss. Moreover, the very
desperation of his successes was of such a nature that no man
could suspect that he would dare to undertake such things, and
accordingly his enemies were never prepared to guard against his
attacks. Aye, had he but worn the king's colors and served under
the rules of honest war, he might have become as great and as
renowned as Admiral Blake himself.
But all that is neither here nor there; what I have to tell you
now is that Captain Morgan in this open boat with his twenty
mates reached the Cape of Salmedina toward the fall of day.
Arriving within view of the harbor they discovered the plate
fleet at anchor, with two men-of-war and an armed galley riding
as a guard at the mouth of the harbor, scarce half a league
distant from the other ships. Having spied the fleet in this
posture, the pirates presently pulled down their sails and rowed
along the coast, feigning to be a Spanish vessel from Nombre de
Dios. So hugging the shore, they came boldly within the harbor,
upon the opposite side of which you might see the fortress a
considerable distance away.
Being now come so near to the consummation of their adventure,
Captain Morgan required every man to make an oath to stand by him
to the last, whereunto our hero swore as heartily as any man
aboard, although his heart, I must needs confess, was beating at
a great rate at the approach of what was to happen. Having thus
received the oaths of all his followers, Captain Morgan commanded
the surgeon of the expedition that, when the order was given, he,
the medico, was to bore six holes in the boat, so that, it
sinking under them, they might all be compelled to push forward,
with no chance of retreat. And such was the ascendancy of this
man over his followers, and such was their awe of him, that not
one of them uttered even so much as a murmur, though what he had
commanded the surgeon to do pledged them either to victory or to
death, with no chance to choose between. Nor did the surgeon
question the orders he had received, much less did he dream of
By now it had fallen pretty dusk, whereupon, spying two fishermen
in a canoe at a little distance, Captain Morgan demanded of them
in Spanish which vessel of those at anchor in the harbor was the
vice admiral, for that he had dispatches for the captain thereof.
Whereupon the fishermen, suspecting nothing, pointed to them a
galleon of great size riding at anchor not half a league
Toward this vessel accordingly the pirates directed their course,
and when they had come pretty nigh, Captain Morgan called upon
the surgeon that now it was time for him to perform the duty that
had been laid upon him. Whereupon the other did as he was
ordered, and that so thoroughly that the water presently came
gushing into the boat in great streams, whereat all hands pulled
for the galleon as though every next moment was to be their last.
And what do you suppose were our hero's emotions at this time?
Like all in the boat, his awe of Captain Morgan was so great that
I do believe he would rather have gone to the bottom than have
questioned his command, even when it was to scuttle the boat.
Nevertheless, when he felt the cold water gushing about his feet
(for he had taken off his shoes and stockings) he became
possessed with such a fear of being drowned that even the Spanish
galleon had no terrors for him if he could only feel the solid
planks thereof beneath his feet.
Indeed, all the crew appeared to be possessed of a like dismay,
for they pulled at the oars with such an incredible force that
they were under the quarter of the galleon before the boat was
half filled with water.
Here, as they approached, it then being pretty dark and the moon
not yet having risen, the watch upon the deck hailed them,
whereupon Captain Morgan called out in Spanish that he was Capt.
Alvarez Mendazo, and that he brought dispatches for the vice
But at that moment, the boat being now so full of water as to be
logged, it suddenly tilted upon one side as though to sink
beneath them, whereupon all hands, without further orders, went
scrambling up the side, as nimble as so many monkeys, each armed
with a pistol in one hand and a cutlass in the other, and so were
upon deck before the watch could collect his wits to utter any
outcry or to give any other alarm than to cry out, "Jesu bless
us! who are these?" at which words somebody knocked him down with
the butt of a pistol, though who it was our hero could not tell
in the darkness and the hurry.
Before any of those upon deck could recover from their alarm or
those from below come up upon deck, a part of the pirates, under
the carpenter and the surgeon, had run to the gun room and had
taken possession of the arms, while Captain Morgan, with Master
Harry and a Portuguese called Murillo Braziliano, had flown with
the speed of the wind into the great cabin.
Here they found the captain of the vice admiral playing at cards
with the Sieur Simon and a friend, Madam Simon and her daughter
Captain Morgan instantly set his pistol at the breast of the
Spanish captain, swearing with a most horrible fierce countenance
that if he spake a word or made any outcry he was a dead man. As
for our hero, having now got his hand into the game, he performed
the same service for the Spaniard's friend, declaring he would
shoot him dead if he opened his lips or lifted so much as a
All this while the ladies, not comprehending what had occurred,
had sat as mute as stones; but now having so far recovered
themselves as to find a voice, the younger of the two fell to
screaming, at which the Sieur Simon called out to her to be
still, for these were friends who had come to help them, and not
enemies who had come to harm them.
All this, you are to understand, occupied only a little while,
for in less than a minute three or four of the pirates had come
into the cabin, who, together with the Portuguese, proceeded at
once to bind the two Spaniards hand and foot, and to gag them.
This being done to our buccaneer's satisfaction, and the Spanish
captain being stretched out in the corner of the cabin, he
instantly cleared his countenance of its terrors, and bursting
forth into a great loud laugh, clapped his hand to the Sieur
Simon's, which he wrung with the best will in the world. Having
done this, and being in a fine humor after this his first
success, he turned to the two ladies. "And this, ladies," said
he, taking our hero by the hand and presenting him, "is a young
gentleman who has embarked with me to learn the trade of piracy.
I recommend him to your politeness."
Think what a confusion this threw our Master Harry into, to be
sure, who at his best was never easy in the company of strange
ladies! You may suppose what must have been his emotions to find
himself thus introduced to the attention of Madam Simon and her
daughter, being at the time in his bare feet, clad only in his
shirt and breeches, and with no hat upon his head, a pistol in
one hand and a cutlass in the other. However, he was not left
for long to his embarrassments, for almost immediately after he
had thus far relaxed, Captain Morgan fell of a sudden serious
again, and bidding the Sieur Simon to get his ladies away into
some place of safety, for the most hazardous part of this
adventure was yet to occur, he quitted the cabin with Master
Harry and the other pirates (for you may call him a pirate now)
at his heels.
Having come upon deck, our hero beheld that a part of the Spanish
crew were huddled forward in a flock like so many sheep (the
others being crowded below with the hatches fastened upon them),
and such was the terror of the pirates, and so dreadful the name
of Henry Morgan, that not one of those poor wretches dared to
lift up his voice to give any alarm, nor even to attempt an
escape by jumping overboard.
At Captain Morgan's orders, these men, together with certain of
his own company, ran nimbly aloft and began setting the sails,
which, the night now having fallen pretty thick, was not for a
good while observed by any of the vessels riding at anchor about
Indeed, the pirates might have made good their escape, with at
most only a shot or two from the men-of-war, had it not then been
about the full of the moon, which, having arisen, presently
discovered to those of the fleet that lay closest about them what
was being done aboard the vice admiral.
At this one of the vessels hailed them, and then after a while,
having no reply, hailed them again. Even then the Spaniards
might not immediately have suspected anything was amiss but only
that the vice admiral for some reason best known to himself was
shifting his anchorage, had not one of the Spaniards aloft--but
who it was Captain Morgan was never able to discover--answered
the hail by crying out that the vice admiral had been seized by
At this the alarm was instantly given and the mischief done, for
presently there was a tremendous bustle through that part of the
fleet lying nighest the vice admiral--a deal of shouting of
orders, a beating of drums, and the running hither and thither of
But by this time the sails of the vice admiral had filled with a
strong land breeze that was blowing up the harbor, whereupon the
carpenter, at Captain Morgan's orders, having cut away both
anchors, the galleon presently bore away up the harbor, gathering
headway every moment with the wind nearly dead astern. The
nearest vessel was the only one that for the moment was able to
offer any hindrance. This ship, having by this time cleared away
one of its guns, was able to fire a parting shot against the
vice-admiral, striking her somewhere forward, as our hero could
see by a great shower of splinters that flew up in the moonlight.
At the sound of the shot all the vessels of the flota not yet
disturbed by the alarm were aroused at once, so that the pirates
had the satisfaction of knowing that they would have to run the
gantlet of all the ships between them and the open sea before
they could reckon themselves escaped.
And, indeed, to our hero's mind it seemed that the battle which
followed must have been the most terrific cannonade that was ever
heard in the world. It was not so ill at first, for it was some
while before the Spaniards could get their guns clear for action,
they being not the least in the world prepared for such an
occasion as this. But by and by first one and then another ship
opened fire upon the galleon, until it seemed to our hero that
all the thunders of heaven let loose upon them could not have
created a more prodigious uproar, and that it was not possible
that they could any of them escape destruction.
By now the moon had risen full and round, so that the clouds of
smoke that rose in the air appeared as white as snow. The air
seemed full of the hiss and screaming of shot, each one of which,
when it struck the galleon, was magnified by our hero's
imagination into ten times its magnitude from the crash which it
delivered and from the cloud of splinters it would cast up into
the moonlight. At last he suddenly beheld one poor man knocked
sprawling across the deck, who, as he raised his arm from behind
the mast, disclosed that the hand was gone from it, and that the
shirt sleeve was red with blood in the moonlight. At this sight
all the strength fell away from poor Harry, and he felt sure that
a like fate or even a worse must be in store for him.
But, after all, this was nothing to what it might have been in
broad daylight, for what with the darkness of night, and the
little preparation the Spaniards could make for such a business,
and the extreme haste with which they discharged their guns (many
not understanding what was the occasion of all this uproar),
nearly all the shot flew so wide of the mark that not above one
in twenty struck that at which it was aimed.
Meantime Captain Morgan, with the Sieur Simon, who had followed
him upon deck, stood just above where our hero lay behind the
shelter of the bulwark. The captain had lit a pipe of tobacco,
and he stood now in the bright moonlight close to the rail, with
his hands behind him, looking out ahead with the utmost coolness
imaginable, and paying no more attention to the din of battle
than though it were twenty leagues away. Now and then he would
take his pipe from his lips to utter an order to the man at the
wheel. Excepting this he stood there hardly moving at all, the
wind blowing his long red hair over his shoulders.
Had it not been for the armed galley the pirates might have got
the galleon away with no great harm done in spite of all this
cannonading, for the man-of-war which rode at anchor nighest to
them at the mouth of the harbor was still so far away that they
might have passed it by hugging pretty close to the shore, and
that without any great harm being done to them in the darkness.
But just at this moment, when the open water lay in sight, came
this galley pulling out from behind the point of the shore in
such a manner as either to head our pirates off entirely or else
to compel them to approach so near to the man-of-war that that
latter vessel could bring its guns to bear with more effect.
This galley, I must tell you, was like others of its kind such as
you may find in these waters, the hull being long and cut low to
the water so as to allow the oars to dip freely. The bow was
sharp and projected far out ahead, mounting a swivel upon it,
while at the stern a number of galleries built one above another
into a castle gave shelter to several companies of musketeers as
well as the officers commanding them.
Our hero could behold the approach of this galley from above the
starboard bulwarks, and it appeared to him impossible for them to
hope to escape either it or the man-of-war. But still Captain
Morgan maintained the same composure that he had exhibited all
the while, only now and then delivering an order to the man at
the wheel, who, putting the helm over, threw the bows of the
galleon around more to the larboard, as though to escape the bow
of the galley and get into the open water beyond. This course
brought the pirates ever closer and closer to the man-of-war,
which now began to add its thunder to the din of the battle, and
with so much more effect that at every discharge you might hear
the crashing and crackling of splintered wood, and now and then
the outcry or groaning of some man who was hurt. Indeed, had it
been daylight, they must at this juncture all have perished,
though, as was said, what with the night and the confusion and
the hurry, they escaped entire destruction, though more by a
miracle than through any policy upon their own part.
Meantime the galley, steering as though to come aboard of them,
had now come so near that it, too, presently began to open its
musketry fire upon them, so that the humming and rattling of
bullets were presently added to the din of cannonading.
In two minutes more it would have been aboard of them, when in a
moment Captain Morgan roared out of a sudden to the man at the
helm to put it hard a starboard. In response the man ran the
wheel over with the utmost quickness, and the galleon, obeying
her helm very readily, came around upon a course which, if
continued, would certainly bring them into collision with their
It is possible at first the Spaniards imagined the pirates
intended to escape past their stern, for they instantly began
backing oars to keep them from getting past, so that the water
was all of a foam about them, at the same time they did this they
poured in such a fire of musketry that it was a miracle that no
more execution was accomplished than happened.
As for our hero, methinks for the moment he forgot all about
everything else than as to whether or no his captain's maneuver
would succeed, for in the very first moment he divined, as by
some instinct, what Captain Morgan purposed doing.
At this moment, so particular in the execution of this nice
design, a bullet suddenly struck down the man at the wheel.
Hearing the sharp outcry, our Harry turned to see him fall
forward, and then to his hands and knees upon the deck, the blood
running in a black pool beneath him, while the wheel, escaping
from his hands, spun over until the spokes were all of a mist.
In a moment the ship would have fallen off before the wind had
not our hero, leaping to the wheel (even as Captain Morgan
shouted an order for some one to do so), seized the flying
spokes, whirling them back again, and so bringing the bow of the
galleon up to its former course.
In the first moment of this effort he had reckoned of nothing but
of carrying out his captain's designs. He neither thought of
cannon balls nor of bullets. But now that his task was
accomplished, he came suddenly back to himself to find the
galleries of the galley aflame with musket shots, and to become
aware with a most horrible sinking of the spirits that all the
shots therefrom were intended for him. He cast his eyes about
him with despair, but no one came to ease him of his task, which,
having undertaken, he had too much spirit to resign from carrying
through to the end, though he was well aware that the very next
instant might mean his sudden and violent death. His ears hummed
and rang, and his brain swam as light as a feather. I know not
whether he breathed, but he shut his eyes tight as though that
might save him from the bullets that were raining about him.
At this moment the Spaniards must have discovered for the first
time the pirates' design, for of a sudden they ceased firing, and
began to shout out a multitude of orders, while the oars lashed
the water all about with a foam. But it was too late then for
them to escape, for within a couple of seconds the galleon struck
her enemy a blow so violent upon the larboard quarter as nearly
to hurl our Harry upon the deck, and then with a dreadful,
horrible crackling of wood, commingled with a yelling of men's
voices, the galley was swung around upon her side, and the
galleon, sailing into the open sea, left nothing of her immediate
enemy but a sinking wreck, and the water dotted all over with
bobbing heads and waving hands in the moonlight.
And now, indeed, that all danger was past and gone, there were
plenty to come running to help our hero at the wheel. As for
Captain Morgan, having come down upon the main deck, he fetches
the young helmsman a clap upon the back. "Well, Master Harry,"
says he, "and did I not tell you I would make a man of you?"
Whereat our poor Harry fell a-laughing, but with a sad catch in
his voice, for his hands trembled as with an ague, and were as
cold as ice. As for his emotions, God knows he was nearer crying
than laughing, if Captain Morgan had but known it.
Nevertheless, though undertaken under the spur of the moment, I
protest it was indeed a brave deed, and I cannot but wonder how
many young gentlemen of sixteen there are to-day who, upon a like
occasion, would act as well as our Harry.
The balance of our hero's adventures were of a lighter sort than
those already recounted, for the next morning the Spanish captain
(a very polite and well-bred gentleman) having fitted him out
with a shift of his own clothes, Master Harry was presented in a
proper form to the ladies. For Captain Morgan, if he had felt a
liking for the young man before, could not now show sufficient
regard for him. He ate in the great cabin and was petted by all.
Madam Simon, who was a fat and red-faced lady, was forever
praising him, and the young miss, who was extremely well-
looking, was as continually making eyes at him.
She and Master Harry, I must tell you, would spend hours
together, she making pretense of teaching him French, although he
was so possessed with a passion of love that he was nigh
suffocated with it. She, upon her part, perceiving his emotions,
responded with extreme good nature and complacency, so that had
our hero been older, and the voyage proved longer, he might have
become entirely enmeshed in the toils of his fair siren. For all
this while, you are to understand, the pirates were making sail
straight for Jamaica, which they reached upon the third day in
In that time, however, the pirates had well-nigh gone crazy for
joy; for when they came to examine their purchase they discovered
her cargo to consist of plate to the prodigious sum of L180,000
in value. 'Twas a wonder they did not all make themselves drunk
for joy. No doubt they would have done so had not Captain Morgan,
knowing they were still in the exact track of the Spanish fleets,
threatened them that the first man among them who touched a drop
of rum without his permission he would shoot him dead upon the
deck. This threat had such effect that they all remained entirely
sober until they had reached Port Royal Harbor, which they did
about nine o'clock in the morning.
And now it was that our hero's romance came all tumbling down
about his ears with a run. For they had hardly come to anchor in
the harbor when a boat came from a man-of-war, and who should
come stepping aboard but Lieutenant Grantley (a particular friend
of our hero's father) and his own eldest brother Thomas, who,
putting on a very stern face, informed Master Harry that he was a
desperate and hardened villain who was sure to end at the
gallows, and that he was to go immediately back to his home
again. He told our embryo pirate that his family had nigh gone
distracted because of his wicked and ungrateful conduct. Nor
could our hero move him from his inflexible purpose. "What," says
our Harry, "and will you not then let me wait until our prize is
divided and I get my share?"
"Prize, indeed!" says his brother. "And do you then really think
that your father would consent to your having a share in this
terrible bloody and murthering business?"
And so, after a good deal of argument, our hero was constrained
to go; nor did he even have an opportunity to bid adieu to his
inamorata. Nor did he see her any more, except from a distance,
she standing on the poop deck as he was rowed away from her, her
face all stained with crying. For himself, he felt that there
was no more joy in life; nevertheless, standing up in the stern
of the boat, he made shift, though with an aching heart, to
deliver her a fine bow with the hat he had borrowed from the
Spanish captain, before his brother bade him sit down again.
And so to the ending of this story, with only this to relate,
that our Master Harry, so far from going to the gallows, became
in good time a respectable and wealthy sugar merchant with an
English wife and a fine family of children, whereunto, when the
mood was upon him, he has sometimes told these adventures (and
sundry others not here recounted), as I have told them unto you.
TOM CHIST AND THE TREASURE BOX
An Old-time Story of the Days of Captain Kidd
TO tell about Tom Chist, and how he got his name, and how he came
to be living at the little settlement of Henlopen, just inside
the mouth of the Delaware Bay, the story must begin as far back
as 1686, when a great storm swept the Atlantic coast from end to
end. During the heaviest part of the hurricane a bark went ashore
on the Hen-and-Chicken Shoals, just below Cape Henlopen and at
the mouth of the Delaware Bay, and Tom Chist was the only soul of
all those on board the ill-fated vessel who escaped alive.
This story must first be told, because it was on account of the
strange and miraculous escape that happened to him at that time
that he gained the name that was given to him.
Even as late as that time of the American colonies, the little
scattered settlement at Henlopen, made up of English, with a few
Dutch and Swedish people, was still only a spot upon the face of
the great American wilderness that spread away, with swamp and
forest, no man knew how far to the westward. That wilderness was
not only full of wild beasts, but of Indian savages, who every
fall would come in wandering tribes to spend the winter along the
shores of the fresh-water lakes below Henlopen. There for four
or five months they would live upon fish and clams and wild ducks
and geese, chipping their arrowheads, and making their
earthenware pots and pans under the lee of the sand hills and
pine woods below the Capes.
Sometimes on Sundays, when the Rev. Hillary Jones would be
preaching in the little log church back in the woods, these
half-clad red savages would come in from the cold, and sit
squatting in the back part of the church, listening stolidly to
the words that had no meaning for them.
But about the wreck of the bark in 1686. Such a wreck as that
which then went ashore on the Hen-and-Chicken Shoals was a
godsend to the poor and needy settlers in the wilderness where so
few good things ever came. For the vessel went to pieces during
the night, and the next morning the beach was strewn with
wreckage--boxes and barrels, chests and spars, timbers and
planks, a plentiful and bountiful harvest, to be gathered up by
the settlers as they chose, with no one to forbid or prevent
The name of the bark, as found painted on some of the water
barrels and sea chests, was the Bristol Merchant, and she no
doubt hailed from England.
As was said, the only soul who escaped alive off the wreck was
A settler, a fisherman named Matt Abrahamson, and his daughter
Molly, found Tom. He was washed up on the beach among the
wreckage, in a great wooden box which had been securely tied
around with a rope and lashed between two spars--apparently for
better protection in beating through the surf. Matt Abrahamson
thought he had found something of more than usual value when he
came upon this chest; but when he cut the cords and broke open
the box with his broadax, he could not have been more astonished
had he beheld a salamander instead of a baby of nine or ten
months old lying half smothered in the blankets that covered the
bottom of the chest.
Matt Abrahamson's daughter Molly had had a baby who had died a
month or so before. So when she saw the little one lying there
in the bottom of the chest, she cried out in a great loud voice
that the Good Man had sent her another baby in place of her own.
The rain was driving before the hurricane storm in dim, slanting
sheets, and so she wrapped up the baby in the man's coat she wore
and ran off home without waiting to gather up any more of the
It was Parson Jones who gave the foundling his name. When the
news came to his ears of what Matt Abrahamson had found he went
over to the fisherman's cabin to see the child. He examined the
clothes in which the baby was dressed. They were of fine linen
and handsomely stitched, and the reverend gentleman opined that
the foundling's parents must have been of quality. A kerchief
had been wrapped around the baby's neck and under its arms and
tied behind, and in the corner, marked with very fine needlework,
were the initials T. C.
"What d'ye call him, Molly?" said Parson Jones. He was standing,
as he spoke, with his back to the fire, warming his palms before
the blaze. The pocket of the greatcoat he wore bulged out with a
big case bottle of spirits which he had gathered up out of the
wreck that afternoon. "What d'ye call him, Molly?"
"I'll call him Tom, after my own baby."
"That goes very well with the initial on the kerchief," said
Parson Jones. "But what other name d'ye give him? Let it be
something to go with the C."
"I don't know," said Molly.
"Why not call him 'Chist,' since he was born in a chist out of
the sea? 'Tom Chist'--the name goes off like a flash in the pan."
And so "Tom Chist" he was called and "Tom Chist" he was
So much for the beginning of the history of Tom Chist. The story
of Captain Kidd's treasure box does not begin until the late
spring of 1699.
That was the year that the famous pirate captain, coming up from
the West Indies, sailed his sloop into the Delaware Bay, where he
lay for over a month waiting for news from his friends in New
For he had sent word to that town asking if the coast was clear
for him to return home with the rich prize he had brought from
the Indian seas and the coast of Africa, and meantime he lay
there in the Delaware Bay waiting for a reply. Before he left he
turned the whole of Tom Chist's life topsy-turvy with something
that he brought ashore.
By that time Tom Chist had grown into a strong-limbed,
thick-jointed boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age. It was a
miserable dog's life he lived with old Matt Abrahamson, for the
old fisherman was in his cups more than half the time, and when
he was so there was hardly a day passed that he did not give Tom
a curse or a buffet or, as like as not, an actual beating. One
would have thought that such treatment would have broken the
spirit of the poor little foundling, but it had just the
opposite effect upon Tom Chist, who was one of your stubborn,
sturdy, stiff-willed fellows who only grow harder and more tough
the more they are ill-treated. It had been a long time now since
he had made any outcry or complaint at the hard usage he suffered
from old Matt. At such times he would shut his teeth and bear
whatever came to him, until sometimes the half-drunken old man
would be driven almost mad by his stubborn silence. Maybe he
would stop in the midst of the beating he was administering, and,
grinding his teeth, would cry out: "Won't ye say naught? Won't
ye say naught? Well, then, I'll see if I can't make ye say
naught." When things had reached such a pass as this Molly would
generally interfere to protect her foster son, and then she and
Tom would together fight the old man until they had wrenched the
stick or the strap out of his hand. Then old Matt would chase
them out of doors and around and around the house for maybe half
an hour, until his anger was cool, when he would go back again,
and for a time the storm would be over.
Besides his foster mother, Tom Chist had a very good friend in
Parson Jones, who used to come over every now and then to
Abrahamson's hut upon the chance of getting a half dozen fish for
breakfast. He always had a kind word or two for Tom, who during
the winter evenings would go over to the good man's house to
learn his letters, and to read and write and cipher a little, so
that by now he was able to spell the words out of the Bible and
the almanac, and knew enough to change tuppence into four
This is the sort of boy Tom Chist was, and this is the sort of
life he led.
In the late spring or early summer of 1699 Captain Kidd's sloop
sailed into the mouth of the Delaware Bay and changed the whole
fortune of his life.
And this is how you come to the story of Captain Kidd's treasure
Old Matt Abrahamson kept the flat-bottomed boat in which he went
fishing some distance down the shore, and in the neighborhood of
the old wreck that had been sunk on the Shoals. This was the
usual fishing ground of the settlers, and here old Matt's boat
generally lay drawn up on the sand.
There had been a thunderstorm that afternoon, and Tom had gone
down the beach to bale out the boat in readiness for the
It was full moonlight now, as he was returning, and the night sky
was full of floating clouds. Now and then there was a dull flash
to the westward, and once a muttering growl of thunder, promising
another storm to come.
All that day the pirate sloop had been lying just off the shore
back of the Capes, and now Tom Chist could see the sails
glimmering pallidly in the moonlight, spread for drying after the
storm. He was walking up the shore homeward when he became aware
that at some distance ahead of him there was a ship's boat drawn
up on the little narrow beach, and a group of men clustered about
it. He hurried forward with a good deal of curiosity to see who
had landed, but it was not until he had come close to them that
he could distinguish who and what they were. Then he knew that
it must be a party who had come off the pirate sloop. They had
evidently just landed, and two men were lifting out a chest from
the boat. One of them was a negro, naked to the waist, and the
other was a white man in his shirt sleeves, wearing petticoat
breeches, a Monterey cap upon his head, a red bandanna
handkerchief around his neck, and gold earrings in his ears. He
had a long, plaited queue hanging down his back, and a great
sheath knife dangling from his side. Another man, evidently the
captain of the party, stood at a little distance as they lifted
the chest out of the boat. He had a cane in one hand and a
lighted lantern in the other, although the moon was shining as
bright as day. He wore jack boots and a handsome laced coat, and