Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/82

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westward they sailed. In a day or two they had reached their cruising ground, near the Scilly Islands, and there they sighted a fine French merchantman, bound for Ireland. Ward sent his men below, so that the merchants should not suspect him. He ran up to the Frenchman and hailed him, in all friendship. The Frenchman suspected nothing; and for some time the two ships kept company. Presently, when Ward thought that the Frenchmen would be quite off their guards, he edged his bark alongside, and called his gang to board her. The surprise was complete. The Frenchmen were beaten down below, or flung overboard, and Ward found himself in possession of a ship of seventy tons, well-equipped, and armed. After this, he sailed for Plymouth, where he anchored in Cawsand Bay. Some of his company contrived to enter the town, where they persuaded a number of ruffians to leave the taverns and to come for a cruise. With these recruits, Ward thought himself strong enough to put to sea as a rover. He left Cawsand Bay and sailed away down Channel to the Spanish coasts.

He seems to have cruised for several months off