Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/233

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Blueskin, the Pirate

sailed the western ocean since boyhood. Then he seemed always to have plenty of money, and he loved to spend it at the tavern tap-room, with a lavishness that was at once the wonder and admiration of gossips.

At that time, as was said, Blueskin was the one engrossing topic of talk, and it added not a little to Levi’s prestige when it was found that he had actually often seen that bloody, devilish pirate with his own eyes. A great, heavy, burly fellow, Levi said he was, with a beard as black as a hat—a devil with his sword and pistol afloat, but not so black as he was painted when ashore. He told of many adventures in which Blueskin figured and was then always listened to with more than usual gaping interest.

As for Blueskin, the quiet way in which the pirates conducted themselves at Indian River almost made the Lewes folk forget what he could do when the occasion called. They almost ceased to remember that poor shattered schooner that had crawled with its ghastly dead and groaning wounded into the harbor a couple of weeks since. But if for a while they forgot who or what Blueskin was, it was not for long.

One day a bark from Bristol, bound for Cuba and laden with a valuable cargo of cloth stuffs and silks, put into Lewes harbor to take in water. The captain himself came ashore and was at the tavern for two or three hours. It happened that Levi was there and that the talk was of Blueskin. The English captain, a grizzled old sea dog, listened to Levi’s yarns with not a little contempt. He had, he said, sailed in the China Sea and the Indian Ocean too long to be afraid of any hog-eating Yankee pirate such as this Blueskin. A junk full of coolies armed with stink-pots was something to speak of, but who ever heard of the likes of Blueskin falling afoul of anything more than a Spanish canoe or a Yankee coaster?

Levi grinned. “All the same, my hearty,” said he, “if I was you I’d give Blueskin a wide berth. I hear that he’s cleaned the