Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/41

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Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main

blood such as even the Spanish West Indies had never seen before. Houses and churches were sacked until nothing was left but the bare walls; men and women were tortured to compel them to disclose where more treasure lay hidden.

Then, having wrenched all that they could from Maracaibo, they entered the lake and descended upon Gibraltar, where the rest of the panic-stricken inhabitants were huddled together in a blind terror.

The governor of Merida, a brave soldier who had served his king in Flanders, had gathered together a troop of eight hundred men, had fortified the town, and now lay in wait for the coming of the pirates. The pirates came all in good time, and then, in spite of the brave defense, Gibraltar also fell. Then followed a repetition of the scenes that had been enacted in Maracaibo for the past fifteen days, only here they remained for four horrible weeks, extorting money—money! ever money!—from the poor poverty-stricken, pest-ridden souls crowded into that fever hole of a towwas

Then they left, but before they went they demanded still more money—ten thousand pieces of eight—as a ransom for the town, which otherwise should be given to the flames. There was some hesitation on the part of the Spaniards, some disposition to haggle, but there was no hesitation on the part of l'Olonoise. The torch was set to the town as he had promised, whereupon the money was promptly paid, and the pirates were piteously begged to help quench the spreading flames. This they were pleased to do, but in spite of all their efforts nearly half of the town was consumed.

After that they returned to Maracaibo again, where they demanded a ransom of thirty thousand pieces of eight for the city. There was no haggling here, thanks to the fate of Gibraltar; only it was utterly impossible to raise that much money in all of the poverty-stricken region. But at last the matter was compromised, and the town was redeemed for twenty thousand pieces of eight