Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/55

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Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main

no man but Morgan could tell. Perhaps it was that all the secret hiding places for treasure might be brought to light; but whatever the reason was, it lay hidden in the breast of the great buccaneer himself. For three weeks Morgan and his men abode in this dreadful place; and they marched away with one hundred and seventy-five beasts of burden loaded with treasures of gold and silver and jewels, besides great quantities of merchandise, and six hundred prisoners held for ransom.

Whatever became of all that vast wealth, and what it amounted to, no man but Morgan ever knew, for when a division was made it was found that there was only two hundred pieces of eight to each man.

When this dividend was declared a howl of execration went up, under which even Capt. Henry Morgan quailed. At night he and four other commanders slipped their cables and ran out to sea, and it was said that these divided the greater part of the booty among themselves. But the wealth plundered at Panama could hardly have fallen short of a million and a half of dollars. Computing it at this reasonable figure, the various prizes won by Henry Morgan in the West Indies would stand as follows: Panama, $1,500,000; Porto Bello, $800,000; Puerto del Principe, $700,000; Maracaibo and Gibraltar, $400,000; various piracies, $250,000—making a grand total of $3,650,000 as the vast harvest of plunder. With this fabulous wealth, wrenched from the Spaniards by means of the rack and the cord, and pilfered from his companions by the meanest of thieving, Capt. Henry Morgan retired from business, honored of all, rendered famous by his deeds, knighted by the good King Charles II, and finally appointed governor of the rich island of Jamaica.

Other buccaneers followed him. Campeche was taken and sacked, and even Cartagena itself fell; but with Henry Morgan culminated the glory of the buccaneers, and from that time they declined in power and wealth and wickedness until they were finally swept away.