Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/45

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Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main

escape, but they brought away with them a vast amount of plunder, computed at three hundred thousand pieces of eight, besides five hundred head of cattle and many prisoners held for ransom.

But when the division of all this wealth came to be made, lo! there were only fifty thousand pieces of eight to be found. What had become of the rest no man could tell but Capt. Henry Morgan himself. Honesty among thieves was never an axiom with him.

Rude, truculent, and dishonest as Captain Morgan was, he seems to have had a wonderful power of persuading the wild buccaneers under him to submit everything to his judgment, and to rely entirely upon his word. In spite of the vast sum of money that he had very evidently made away with, recruits poured in upon him, until his band was larger and better equipped than ever.

And now it was determined that the plunder harvest was ripe at Porto Bello, and that city's doom was sealed. The town was defended by two strong castles thoroughly manned, and officered by as gallant a soldier as ever carried Toledo steel at his side. But strong castles and gallant soldiers weighed not a barleycorn with the buccaneers when their blood was stirred by the lust of gold.

Landing at Puerto Naso, a town some ten leagues westward of Porto Bello, they marched to the latter town, and coming before the castle, boldly demanded its surrender. It was refused, whereupon Morgan threatened that no quarter should be given. Still surrender was refused; and then the castle was attacked, and after a bitter struggle was captured. Morgan was as good as his word: every man in the castle was shut in the guard room, the match was set to the powder magazine, and soldiers, castle, and all were blown into the air, while through all the smoke and the dust the buccaneers poured into the town. Still the governor held out in the other castle, and might have made good his defense, but that he was betrayed by the soldiers under him. Into the castle poured the howling buccaneers. But still the governor fought on, with his wife and daughter clinging to his knees and beseeching