Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/203

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Jack Ballister’s Fortunes

together. They wouldn’t even let me go up into the settlement to look for a pilot.”

The lieutenant and his sailing master stood watching the boat as it approached. “Couldn’t you, then, get a pilot, Baldwin?” said Mr. Maynard, as the boatswain scrambled aboard.

“No, I couldn’t, sir,” said the man. “Either they’re all banded together, or else they’re all afraid of the villains. They wouldn’t even let me go up into the settlement to find one.”

“Well, then,” said Mr. Maynard, “we’ll make shift to work in as best we may by ourselves. ‘Twill be high tide against one o’clock. We’ll run in then with sail as far as we can, and then we’ll send you ahead with the boat to sound for a pass, and we’ll follow with the sweeps. You know the waters pretty well, you say.”

“They were saying ashore that the villain hath forty men aboard,” said the boatswain.[1]

Lieutenant Maynard’s force consisted of thirty-five men in the schooner and twenty-five men in the sloop. He carried neither cannons nor carronades, and neither of his vessels was very well fitted for the purpose for which they were designed. The schooner, which he himself commanded, offered almost no protection to the crew. The rail was not more than a foot high in the waist, and the men on the deck were almost entirely exposed. The rail of the sloop was perhaps a little higher, but it, too, was hardly better adapted for fighting. Indeed, the lieutenant depended more upon the moral force of official authority to overawe the pirates than upon any real force of arms or men. He never believed, until the very last moment, that the pirates would show any real fight. It is very possible that they might not have done so had they not thought that the lieutenant had actually no legal right supporting him in his attack upon them in North Carolina waters.

  1. The pirate captain had really only twenty-five men aboard of his ship at the time of the battle.